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Heidi Kole
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Feb 04 2010

A crazy-best evening underground

So – yeah, it’s still way cold here in NYC – I mean brutally so. I can’t remember a winter like this one for at least 6 years or longer. There have been more than a dozen days when just a block walk to the CVS turns me into a tiny popsicle : )

But today, I braved it. The sun was out and there was no wind, so I made the journey to 59th and Lex – it’s a stop on the East Side that actually kind of doesn’t feel like the East Side, but more like the West, so I feel pretty at home over there, especially at rush hour when the platforms are packed : )

I had a blast and felt 100% free just being able to sing freely as commuters from both sides of the tracks stood, watched, clapped and donated.

One guy stood there for an hour. And every time I took a bread he’d jump in and say, “You’re not stopping yet are you?” I assured him I was just warming up my hands on my jeans and that another tune would follow. “Good” the guy said, “Cause you rock.” I gave a ‘thank you’ smile and dove back into the music.

I lasted only an hour or two before the wind and cold got to my fingers, so I made my way from the East to the West side, with generous help from random strangers up up the three to four series of super long staircases. I love how I’ll be lugging my gear up a particularly tough flight of stairs and randomly, all of a sudden my gear is weightless as a random stranger silently grabs the base and lifts the end up for me as I continue to tackle the staircase. Sometimes not one word is said and the stranger darts off with a nod. But more often I’ll say “thank you” and the stranger d’jour will respond with a “no problem” and then dart off as if lifting 70lbs of gear in a business suit is just no problem at all.

Today at that top of one particularly long staircase, the random ‘gear shurpa’ nodded and a guy behind me chimed in, “See, not all New Yorkers are mean”

I love this city.

I got off in Times Square, at Port Authority, and as I got to the top of yet another staircase, (yes, on my own this time  : ), I heard music and clapping. I thought it might be Annette as it’s the only female I usually hear. I had to go and see who was singing even though I was cold and tired.

I spotted a semi circle of people in dark clothing ( it seems everyone in New York wears black in the winter). Coming from the semi-circle was a kick-ass voice, round and full, belting out Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”

At first I was not sure if it was female or male as it was so deep. I also at first couldn’t discern what of the music awas tracks and what was live.

I pushed myself through the crowd, gear in tow, and saw a large black woman covering “Billie Jean” like nobody’s business. Oh my God this woman could sing. Not one note went by that wasn’t filled with emotion and soul of many lifetimes.

Were all riveted.

Beside her black Crate Amp she had a very large suitcase laying open with a stack of zeroxed papers cut into small squares with her picture and info on it. the rest of the case was filled…with cash. Amazing…

The woman would randomly pass the mic around to the audience and have us join in on whatever song she was singing. The ones who could sing she’d re-visit often, sometimes pulling them over to sit right next to her on top of her Crate Amplifier.

I stayed for the party, and a party it was…best one I’ve been to in a while…dropped a dollar and grabbed a flyer before I reluctantly headed home, heading the rumblings of my now empty stomach.

As I turned to go, I looked at the flyer…”Alice Tan Ridley”…oh my God, it’s the mother of “Precious” – the newly Oscar nominated actress from the movie “Precious”.

“Wow – Precious’s mom is out here busking away, just like the rest of us…how cool is that…”

…And yes, next time I’ll try to take a video…promise…

7 Responses to “A crazy-best evening underground”

  1. That’s great…Alice is wonderful…she’s been singing for YEARS in the system….I’m looking forward to doing the same thing soon….I’ll be checking you out Heidi on Thursday 14th/Union Square:-)


    Heidi Reply:

    It was a fabulous day!!!

    Missed you @ 14th St – were you there & just hiding? : )

    Everyone was so impressive – amazed me!

    Heidi ~

  2. avatar terrangela says:

    I wish I had the courage to do what you do! I am giggling at even the thought of it…heeheehee! Peace through music!


    Heidi Reply:

    Ya gotta stop by sometime – join in, shake a shaker or tambourine…you’ll see, you’ll forget you were ever afraid – promise 🙂

    Heidi ~


    Heidi Reply:

    PS – you can also follow me on Twitter – – that’s where I post my underground locations so you’ll know as soon as I do:)

  3. avatar terrangela says:

    Totally addicted to these stories – was twigged by a mutual friend, and can’t wait to come and hear you some time.
    Keep up the good work…performing AND writing!


    Heidi Reply:

    Hope to see you soon underground & thnx for your support & addiction Angela! : )

    Heidi ~

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