boyd tinsely

A recent impromptu performance from Boyd Tinsley, the world famous solo artist and violinist with the Dave Matthews Band, has highlighted a trend that has grown in prominence over the course of the past few years. More and more internationally known musicians are showing up in unexpected settings and giving impromptu, largely improvised performances for little or no financial compensation.


Musicians Are Showing Up To Play For Peanuts


Tinsley’s recent appearance at Grand Central Station, where he set up his gear and played a completely off the cuff performance for several hours, is only one of the many impromptu appearances that have made by “name” musicians over the past few years. Others have made it a virtue to “give back” to their public by appearing unannounced in all manner of strange or unexpected locations.


Multiplying The Personal Thrill Of “Recognition”


While the motivation expressed by each musician concerning their unannounced appearances is personal to each, there does seem to be a common denominator behind this growing trend. It seems that many musicians are motivated by a desire to appear as anonymous buskers in an unexpected setting, plying their trade for small change.


The thrill of being recognized by the occasional fan that happens by is thereby heightened, giving the musician the added thrill of meeting a true “hardcore” fan that responds immediately to their unique “signature”. For many musicians, this is the ultimate validation that they truly do possess a musical style and presence that can be singled out from the crowd, even in the most random and unexpected setting.


The Future Of Impromptu Public Performances


The future of these impromptu public performances looks particularly promising, especially in light of the revolutionary transformation that the media has undergone since the advent of the Internet. The potential for a star to be “discovered” plunking away on an acoustic guitar in a subway station during rush hour in New York City is reason enough for them to undertake the task. In a word, free publicity is the name of the game.


Of course, the relative rarity of such unexpected appearances is part of their enduring appeal. Don’t expect to see your favorite celebrity suddenly turn up next to you at the bus station. However, the chances of seeing your musical favorites in various “leaked” videos on Youtube and Instagram remains encouragingly high. It’s a win win scenario for artists and fans alike.