Playing for Change | Chicago Reader

Playing for Change

I've always valued street musicians as one of the democratic pleasures of city life. But for every person like me there's another who considers them a headache, and for every musician like the ones in this video documentary—talented free spirits who groove on the community vibe—there's a guitarist tunelessly pounding out boomer rock for wine money. Video makers Mark Johnson and Jonathan Walls take a Birkenstock approach to street music, largely ignoring its economics as they survey players in LA, New Orleans, and New York. As a result they gloss over the divide between middle-class performers who prefer the street to the clubs, and proles, who prefer it to the gutter. 75 min.


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