One of my greatest joys as a blind flaneur is the surprise of discovering new music performed out in the open air, on the street. I love how music animates street life. I love the way the street itself can shape the sound. I love the echoes and atmospherics.
Over the years I’ve experimented with recording street musicians, but I never imagined the kinds of mashups achieved by PlayingForChange. The project began when producer Mark Johnson heard Roger Ridley singing Stand By Me on a Santa Monica street corner. Johnson tells the story on NPR Music:
“I approached him after the performance and said, ‘Hey, if I come back in an hour with some recording equipment and cameras, I’d love to record you, film you, add musicians around the world to it,’ ” Johnson says. “And he looked at me really funny, sort of thought I was crazy. But he said, ‘OK, if you come back, we’ll do it.’ ”
Another strong voice on “Stand by Me” is Grandpa Elliot, a staple of the New Orleans street scene, where he’s been playing since age 6.
“You know, in New Orleans it’s interesting, because a lot of the best musicians play on the streets,” Johnson says. “And so Grandpa [Elliot] is known by everybody in New Orleans as one of its greatest musicians and an icon of New Orleans music.”
Café Mouffe opens on Fridays. Please drop by for a listen and a chat. Sometimes the embedded videos don’t work here due to bandwidth constraints, but you’ll always find links to video sources in the notes. Try them. If you’re curious about the Mouffe, here’s the original idea behind it’s creation.