The subway is New York City`s least talked about music venue. I can`t imagine a worse audience than a constantly fluctuating pack of stressed-out New Yorkers trying to get wherever it is we all go as quickly as possible. Yet every day on the train platforms and in the subway cars, musicians make themselves heard.
On the Bedford L train platform, violinist Marques Toliver told me he likes to play for the money "on a good day, he said, he`ll make $80 in 3 hours "but that he also likes the chance to hone his improv skills.
"I usually just improv...If I`m sad, I`ll play something sad. And if I`m happy, I`ll probably just play something sad, too," he said, and laughed. His violin playing was definitely a cut above the bucket drumming "shock and awe" you might usually find underground. I asked him if he`d studied music in school. "Well, I dropped out of school. Actually, flunked out of school. So I spent my time playing guitar and singing and stuff."
Then he moved here from Florida, around Halloween. "I`ve been couch surfing a lot, although I`m really lucky because I`ve been doing some work with Kyp and David." "The TV on the Radio guys?" I asked. "Yeah. I`m hoping to build a career as a violinist. In the summer I`m gonna take some master classes."
I asked him how he found playing in the subway, overall. "I just judge it by how I`m feeling. It normally works."
Marques will be performing in the West Village at Caffe Vivaldi on Jan. 27 at 9pm. His MySpace page mostly features his singing and guitar playing, but if you`re lucky you might catch his improv violin, somewhere along the L train, sometime soon.