Printing the “Music is Legal!” shirts

The shirts arrived Thursday evening, and since I only had two days available to print them before losing access to my studio space (and I’m spending Sunday helping to install my show at the Painting Center), we had to rush to get them done.

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135 t-shirts

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Printing the first shirt.

With only two people, it took seven or eight hours to finish the front side of all 135 shirts.

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We started with the pink shirts.

My cousin Zeke took a detour into the city on his way up the Appalachian Trail, and he offered to help us print the backs. With his help, we finished them in four hours.

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And he bought us food!

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The print shop’s mustachioed Pratt Cat, who is most often found sleeping in the paper guillotine’s scrap bin, visited us in the silkscreen lab.

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About half of the finished shirts.

Matthew and Kalan will start distributing them to subway performers this week. Remember: Music is Legal!

Kickstarter results; 3rd annual Busker Ball

The Kickstarter closed last night, and thanks to many wonderful friends, musicians, family members, and even unknown Kickstarter aficionados, we made it not just to 100 shirts, but to 135. We’ll be printing them this week and starting to distribute them just after that. Thanks so much, everyone!

On another note, we’d like to point out a concert date that’s not to be missed for those of you in NYC. Theo Eastwind, a long-term NYC busker and an outstanding musician, has organized the 3rd annual Busker Ball for this Wednesday at Spike Hill in Williamsburg. Theo will be performing himself, alongside a handful of the best new busking acts that he’s heard in the last few months. You can catch them all with a complementary ticket ($10 suggested donation). Doors open at 6:30 this Wednesday — and if you make it, find me there!

13/07: Kickstarter

Hi all! It’s time to FUNDRAISE. Here’s why:

Performers have been in the MTA for over a hundred years, and have been legal since 1985.

But many station managers, police officers, and passers-by don’t know that we’re legal. Consequently, of the hundred-odd performers I’ve talked to, almost everyone has been made to leave a station by police, and more than a few have been handcuffed and taken away — for playing music!

We believe one of the best ways to address this is by getting the word out there: Music is Legal! But how do you communicate that information to five million daily riders, thousands of police, and hundreds of station managers?

Well, fortunately, there are hundreds of us. So here’s our idea: we make t-shirts like this one:

IMG_0167Then we give one to every performer, for free, and ask them to play once a week with the shirt. We’re sure it’ll reach millions of MTA riders. Can you imagine a subway where police and station managers celebrate music? We think it’s possible.

Do you want to help make this a reality? Go to our Kickstarter project, “Music is Legal!,” and make a pledge. When we meet our funding goal, we’ll make 100 of these shirts — and you’ll receive one as a reward.

And please: help spread the word by linking to the project or to this post.  Have a question or a suggestion? Contact us!

Busking log 6/07: Screen-printing, movie-making

As promised, today was spent hard at work on the sample run of BuskNY t-shirts. (I can disclose by now that we’re planning a Kickstarter, with one modest goal: equipping every last NYC busker with a bright, dashing “Music is Legal!” t-shirt).

We started with the acetate sheets, which Milo had inked with the “Music is Legal!” design.

ink on acetate

The design was then transferred to the screens, a process which involved this large, frightening vacuum machine:

don't ask: i don't know what's going on either!

In the end, we succeeded in printing all 7 shirts. (Well, okay — two were bloopers, but only because of me!) Here’s the final product:can't wait to wear 'em!

We also spent a number of hours filming and editing for the Kickstarter video, which is now complete. We had a lot of fun with it, and think you will too. The Kickstarter approval process takes a few days, so stay tuned — it’ll be up before we know it!

In the meantime, we’ll be back to regular busking updates soon. After all, one’s gotta make rent somehow around here!

Busking log 7/04: Acrobats, t-shirts, and a charcoal mustache

On the train ride in to Manhattan this morning, I met two members of the Hybrid Movement Company, an acrobatics/circus/dance group that performs regularly in city parks. (Judging by their Facebook page, they’ve been on NBC as well!)

We shared some arrest stories, a mix of good, bad, and very amusing. There are more than a few of us out here getting arrested for art — but fortunately, I’m not the only one with a way to fight back, either. Keep it coming, acrobats!

After I caught up with the Hybriders above-ground to see their (fantastic) performance in Washington Square Park, I joined Milo in his studio to work on designs for our upcoming advocacy t-shirt. (Details coming soon on the plan for the shirts — and, not to spoil any surprises, New Yorkers should be seeing them in person soon!)

Designing was fun. Milo let me hold his charcoal pencil briefly, and I used it to draw a mustache on my face:

arr!

(My shirt was on the floor, serving as a design template). Fortunately, at least one of us took the job more seriously:

coming soon!

We’ll be receiving a sample batch of shirts tomorrow, and hope to have completed the first screenprints by Saturday night. In the meantime, let us know if you think we missed any important busking instruments in our design. There’s still time for additions!

Busking log 7/2: the best of NYC

I took yesterday off from busking, which freed up the time to see a friend from Bard, visit Milo in his studio, and go on a massive donut binge. All worthwhile things.

Sometimes it’s hard to transition back into busking, but today wasn’t that day. Two stories about the kind of audience members I wish were more common:

  1. A family visiting from Colombia listened raptly to a whole sonata movement at 81st St. Then they asked to take a photo together with me, and we had a little chat in Spanish. If only all visitors to New York had as much time for the people as they do for the sights!
  2. I don’t usually have the chance talk to other people in the train, although I see them taking notice of the violin case and the stool.  Manhattanites just don’t seem very interested in hearing my side of the story. But on the downtown C train today, I had the nicest conversation about busking with my seatmate — a woman in her sixties — as though it were the most normal thing in the world that I was counting through a big heap of $1 bills. Thanks, stranger — I’ll see you around. For now, I’m psyched to go back out tomorrow!

In other news, you can now sign up for our mailing list on the contact page. Please do — especially the buskers among you! The time will come when we have to spread news around fast, and though I love seeing you all around in the subway, well, it’s just not the quickest way to spread the word…

Busking log 6/28: end of the month, start of a project

Well, it’s the 28th, which means it’s almost time to make rent. And, thanks to the traveling I did this month, my pile of $1 bills isn’t tall enough to make that happen. Odetta said it best:

My sweetheart, he’d like to get married
I’d like to settle down
But I can’t save a penny a day
Cause I go ramblin’ round, boy
Cause I go ramblin’ round.

On the other hand, I’m excited that BuskNY is off to a good start. We’re set up with Facebook and Twitter now, and the social media prowess of Jon Christian has sent over some thoughts on how to use this format to our best advantage in spreading concrete tips on buskers’ rights. (Our dream, lest we forget, is to make sure no one can Google “busking arrest” without learning that lawsuits are a possibility — something which was nowhere online when I was arrested two years ago).

We’ll be starting to promote the site right about now, and beginning our much-looked-forward-to leaflet campaign very soon. So welcome, everyone, from BuskNY. We hope you’ll stick around for the show!

Subway law: the MTA Rules of Conduct

Welcome to BuskNY’s all-new blog, a site to behold!

As tradition mandates, our first post is a link to the under-read, under-loved MTA Rules of Conduct. Don’t forget:

“The following nontransit uses are permitted by the Authority, provided they do not impede transit activities and they are conducted in accordance with these rules: public speaking; campaigning; leafletting or distribution of written noncommercial materials; activities intended to encourage and facilitate voter registration; artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations; solicitation for religious or political causes; solicitation for charities.”

That means YOU, buskers!