The Music Man

Harvard Square is the place for street performers in Boston. As soon as the snow melts, they pop up on every street corner, and on the stretches of sidewalk in between.

Coming from Santa Monica, CA, I am no stranger to the street performer. Our Third Street Promenade is full of them, day and night. We have jugglers and dancers and people pretending to be statues and singers and, well, just about everyone.

Harvard seems to stick mostly to music men. One of my favorite acts is an ancient man who sings show tunes in a warbled falsetto; he has a sign that asks “Please be kind to street people” and a tiny puppy who sleeps at his feet all day. I haven’t yet managed to capture him on film yet, but one day …

There’s also the ubiquitous Native American band, complete with wind pipes and chimes and synchronized keyboard. They always claim the prime spot in front of the T station and get many people shuffling through their piles of CDs.

For a PAW assignment, we were required to turn in a photograph of someone from within six feet in front of them, but not show their face. I was walking through Harvard Square one afternoon and was captivated by a man playing an instrument I was not familiar with. He had an old-fashioned look about him, beard, peacoat, cap, and he held what I later found out to be a hurdy gurdy with elegance.

This man stood out from the rest of the street performers because he truly seemed to come from another time. I half hid behind a mailbox while I shot him (I’m still a bit shy when it comes to street photography), and wished that I was allowed to use his face for the assignment, because he exuded a calm, wise, old-world feeling. People passing him on the street were compelled to stop and take a look, which is more than most performers can hope for.

Now that it’s summer, even more street performers are out and about, but I know I’ll keep my eye out for my out-of-time-and-place hurdy gurdy man and his enchanting music.

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