“Busking the System” Provides Platform For New York Subway Performers

What does it take to sing, strum and otherwise make live music for sometimes little or no money in the subterranean recesses of the Big Apple?

Find out in “Busking the System,” an entertaining and enlightening documentary feature film that follows several young “buskers” or street musicians as they seek artistic success and most importantly pocket change in the New York City subway system.

CinemaKC, a not-for-profit organization connecting film-devoted groups in Missouri and Kansas, will present the Kansas City premiere of “Busking the System” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20; and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, at the Screenland Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd.

The film’s cast of authentic characters includes musician and Kansas City native Phillip Bradley and former Akron, Ohio, musician Nate Corsi, who now calls Kansas City home.

“I feel like we captured a couple of real-life adventures with real characters,” said “Busking the System” director Justin Michael Morales, an independent filmmaker from Manchester, Conn. “The film tells the story of the first amendment and how it applies to art and music.”

Friday night’s screening of “Busking the System” will include a Q&A with one of the filmmakers and busker Bradley. Saturday night’s screening will include a Q&A with director Morales, and buskers Bradley and Corsi. Sunday night’s screening will include a Q&A with Morales and Bradley.

Having enough talent is only the first step in achieving successful buskerdom in the subway’s packed and noisy public spaces. You’ve also got to have enough nerve to risk getting on other people’s nerves.

“If you don’t live in New York, you don’t know what busking is,” said singer, songwriter and guitarist Bradley. “If you do live in New York, you are both annoyed and amazed – and made to feel uncomfortable by buskers. They are a certain breed of people.”

They comprise such colorful performers as enigmatic singer and keyboardist Mystro Dee, who maintains that if you don’t feel the music, neither will passersby; trendsetting percussionist Larry Wright, considered to be the subway’s first plastic bucket drummer; and joyful musical saw player Natalia Paruz, who quit her regular day job when she realized that she could make more money busking.

“I want to open the eyes of the viewer to a new world,” said director Morales. “ ‘Busking the System’ brings you into the subways of New York City to see the sights and hear the sounds of a melting pot of dreamers not only from all over the country, but from all over the world.”

Tickets to “Busking the System” cost $6 (matinees) and $8 (evenings); go to screenland.com or call the box office at 816-421-9700.

CinemaKC’s Strategic Partners include ArtsKC, Film Commission of Greater Kansas City, Blackberry Castle Productions, Film Society of Greater Kansas City, Independent Filmmaker’s Coalition, Kansas City Film Critics Circle, Kansas City FilmFest, Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee, Kansas City Fringe Festival, Kansas City Screenwriters, Kansas City Urban Film Festival, Kansas City Women in Film and TV, Kansas Film Commission, Kansas International Film Festival, Missouri Film Commission, Missouri Motion Media Association, Reel Spirit, Thank You Walt Disney, UMKC Film Department, University of Kansas Film and Media Studies, Variety the Children’s Charity of Greater Kansas City and Women of the Motion Picture Industry.

CinemaKC’s Business Alliance includes Allied Integrated Marketing, Allied Theatre Craft, American Heartland Theatre, Haywood Marketing Communications, Kansas City Area Development Council, KC Stage Magazine, KC Studio, Prizm Productions, Screenland Armour, Screenland Crossroads, Screenland Crown Center, StagePort KC, Substream Music & Sound Design and T2.

1 Comment

  1. Dylan Dietz on August 19th, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Nathan Corsi of ‘Busking the System’ on NBC Action News Midday!


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