Street Idol: Searching for a Star in the D.C. Subways A Tell Me More producer recently attended an open call for street musicians wanting to perform in D.C. subway stations. The eclectic sounds are featured in this week's Heard On The Street.
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Street Idol: Searching for a Star in the D.C. Subways

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Street Idol: Searching for a Star in the D.C. Subways

Street Idol: Searching for a Star in the D.C. Subways

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  • Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now to a segment we call Heard on the Street, we go out and talk to street performers, musicians or just people making themselves heard.

Today, we hit the jackpot when the D.C. metro authority announced that they would be holding tryouts for performers to play at the subway stations. We sent our producer A.C. Valdez in search of the latest Street Idol.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. CHRISTOPHER REDHAM (Street Musician, Cellist): I'm Christopher Redham. I need a little bit of extra money this summer.

(Soundbite of cello music)

Mr. ADAM: I'm a cellist, and cello is mainly an orchestral instrument, but everybody knows Yo-Yo Ma these days, so it's become a big solo instrument over the years - especially recently. And he's brought the cello into a lot of new lights other than the typical festival and orchestral repertoire.

(Soundbite of song, "Smoke on the Water")

(Soundbite of flute music)

JAMMING J.D.(ph) (Street Musician, Flautist): The street name is Jamming J.D., Washington, D.C. I'm 25-year street-performing bachelor. A lot of these people here are on-street performers.

(Soundbite of flute music)

JAMMING J.D.: The flute chose me. I've been playing flute since I was 17. I mean, before then, in elementary school, I play recorders and fifes. And when I went to Job Corps - 76, something like that - I got my first flute handed to me. That's when they let me use and keep it. And then I started street performing when my first son was in the womb. And I lost my job, so I went to the streets and started playing music on the streets, found out I could make good money on the streets. And I increased my repertoire over the years, played at so many places, universities - got gigs off of it, still going at it. Music is the core of my life.

(Soundbite of flute music)

(Soundbite of music, "Theme from 'The Godfather'")

Mr. SAM BROWN (Street Musician, Steel Drummer): I am Sam Brown. Well, I'm originally from Forest (unintelligible), Trinidad. I grew up with the adventure of steel drum, and I have always had a great love for the steel drum.

(Soundbite of music, "Theme from 'The Godfather'")

Mr. BROWN: I used to be a merchant marine. But I came here because they asked me to come to make the first steel drum with set for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Well, that was 1967. But when I came to Washington, Washington was too cold.

(Soundbite of music, "Theme from 'The Godfather'")

Mr. BROWN: And then I became an engineer, (unintelligible) University (unintelligible). Then I retired to steel drum for life.

(Soundbite of music, "Theme from 'The Godfather'")

(Soundbite of mandolin music)

Mr. MICHAEL HARTRIDGE(ph) (Street Musician): My name is Michael Hartridge, and I play all stringed instruments - guitar, bass player, mandolin and violin. So I just heard about it on the news and thought I'd come down here and check it out and give people in D.C. a little taste of Mike.

(Soundbite of mandolin music)

What I really wanted to do was to be able to like, in the morning when people go to work, just give them a song that they could take with them through the day. You know how when you listen to radio in the morning, you're on your way to work, and you hear this one tone that for some reason, when you go to the bathroom, that tune is with you. When the boss sitting there telling you I need this report right now, that song is with you. When you go home and you're like, it was a rough day, but that song is still in your head. And that's what I want to do, I want to be able to give people that.

(Soundbite of song, "Word Up")

Mr. HARTRIDGE: (Singing) Now, pretty ladies around the world, we got a weird thing to tell you, all little boys and girls.

MARTIN: That was Charles Christopher Redham, flautist Jamming J.D., Sam Brown on the steel drums and mandolin player Michael Hartridge. We tried calling the at your authority to see if any of our tour idols made the cut, but we were unable to get an answer by broadcast, so just be on the lookout for a guy rocking out Cameo on the mandolin.

That's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

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