Street Music

state_street.jpgChicago has some of the best sounds around.







I just moved back to Chicago for school and already the city has taken me over. When my parents and I were driving down Lake Shore Drive, I perked up after a five-hour nap and started talking away. My parents said my eyes lit up and I was a whole different person when we got to the city. They were right; I love Chicago. The sights, the people, even the smells. But some of my favorite things are the sounds.

Chicago has some of the best sounds around. And I don’t mean just an exceptional amount of car horns and crossing guard whistles, I mean the music scene…or should I say the street music scene. In the summer months, the streets and sidewalks are crowded with people. But alongside the tourists and the everyday people of the city are the real gems of the sidewalks: the musicians.

Yes, there are numerous musicians that dot the sidewalks of Chicago. I pass by them on my way to class as well as to and from my apartment. They are on just about every street corner with their guitar cases open. They are on the steps of the Art Institute entertaining the many visitors passing through the doors. They are in the parks singing, strumming, drumming and everything in between. These street artists are some of the best—and some of the worst—around, but they are entertaining to say the least.

One of my first experiences with these street musicians was two years ago. I was walking along Michigan Avenue and heard the sounds of drums. I had no idea where the sound was coming from, but I soon found out when I turned the corner. There was a group of guys sitting on buckets and using another set of buckets in front of them, making some of the best drumbeats I have ever heard. These "bucket boys," as they were sometimes called, attracted numerous people to their spot on the sidewalk. Passers by would stop and listen, as I had, to these talented young men. It was amazing how they turned ordinary buckets into great musical instruments.

After my adventure with the bucket boys, I soon found that many other musicians were right at my doorstop. As the days and weeks went on, I listened to guitar playing on the street corners, a musical puppet show on the sidewalk, and a trumpet player in the park. These outdoor concerts were a refreshing escape from the loudness that is all too often Chicago.

When I got back to the city, the weather was still warm enough for me to enjoy these free concerts on the streets. Whenever I have time I like to stop and listen a bit more closely to the sounds of the music. No matter the origin—a bucket, a trumpet or a simple song — the music is always a nice alternative to the radio. | Ashley Mouldon

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