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Busking in the lime light - Brooklyn Paper

Busking in the lime light

Havin’ a ball: Theo Eastwind, a street performer of 18 years, has arranged a lineup of excellent buskers for the third-annual Busker Ball at Spike Hill on July 24.
Photo by Samantha Simkevich

Fight for your right — to sing in the subways.

The King of the Underground, Mr. Subway Idol himself, the 18-year-veteran street and rail singer-songwriter Theo Eastwind has once again assembled a crack team of public performers for the third-ever Busker Ball at Spike Hill on July 24, an exhibition of what he says are the city’s finest soldiers in the fight for our freedom of expression.

“Buskers are on the front line of the First Amendment,” said Eastwind.

“No one sitting behind a desk has to worry about a cop coming over and harassing them. I mean buskers are immigrants half the time, and they have to educate the cops on America’s freedom of speech.”

Eastwind’s freedom-loving sentiments aside, the Busker Ball is bound to be a great night for music lovers too, and just because these musicians are more used to a subway platform than a stage, there’s no reason to doubt their musical prowess.

“The event is really designed so that folks know, if you’re chosen to play, you’re an excellent musician,” he said.

“You are an established busker, who I saw in subway and knew was exceptionally good.”

But there are some young buck buskers out there that Eastwind hasn’t been able to rope into his growing concert series — rakish, street-bound rogues with too much pride to play on anyone else’s time.

Bird Courage, a busker band known to frequent the Metropolitan Avenue stop along the G line, respectfully declined Eastwind’s offer to play the ball, despite $50 worth of encouragement.

“Call it musician’s ego,” said Eastwind

That’s not to say he doesn’t have some classy acts lined up, including Gabriel Royal, which Eastwind likened to a certain British band of some notoriety.

“He’s like the Beatles, only modern,” he said.

Busker Ball at Spike Hill [186 Bedford Ave. between N. Sixth and N. Seventh streets in Williamsburg, (718) 218–9737, spikehill.com] July 24, 7 pm. $10 suggested donation.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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