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Sour note! NYC subway musicians are scared to play over violent crime underground

Subway musicians say they’ve one thing to “fret” about. 

Buskers mentioned Wednesday they are generally frightened to carry out as a result of there’s a lot violent crime underground — at the same time as they vied for plum efficiency spots at MTA-held auditions. 

“If you’re doing anything like this, you have to look over your shoulder all the time,” mentioned Joshua Oxyer, 26, who had simply crooned a Justin Timberlake track. “We’re targets all the time.”

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Subway musicians like Joshua Oxyer are unnerved by latest violent crime underground. James Messerschmidt

Alan Zavodsky, who performs drums for the New Orleans-inspired dance band New Thousand, mentioned he’s had to dodge unhinged individuals.

“There are so many things happening from certain people who aren’t mentally well who are interacting with us,” he mentioned.  “We’ve had situations where somebody was really drunk or aggressive and started knocking over our stuff, and he got dealt with.”

Dozens of musicians — starting from reggae singers to DJs and accordion gamers — competed Wednesday for placement within the MTA’s “Under New York” music program.

During the annual auditions, officers choose about 25 top-tier artists to play scheduled slots on the metropolis’s hottest subway stations, together with Times Square and thirty fourth Street.

But worry over subway assaults has reached a fever pitch in latest months after a slew of violent incidents, together with a lethal taking pictures on a crowded practice automotive in Brooklyn in March.

Overall, crime within the subway has turn into considerably extra violent because the pandemic with the variety of felony assaults hovering, in accordance to latest NYPD stats.

The variety of assaults on trains that left straphangers injured jumped from 373 felony assaults in 2019 to 570 in 2023, a rise of 53%.

Despite security dangers, many musicians on the occasion mentioned it was value taking part in train-side tunes as a result of it affords them cash and publicity. 

Iain Forrest
Iain Forrest was attacked whereas taking part in his electrical cello earlier this 12 months. Aristide Economopoulos for NY Post
Amira Hunter attacked Forrest, bashing him in the head with a metal water bottle.
Amira Hunter attacked Forrest, bashing him within the head with a metallic water bottle. IainSForrest/X

“There’s been 100 times as many joyous moments as scary and intimidating moments. The scary and tenuous ones are scary, though. They suck,” mentioned Adrian Jusdanis, who performs violin for the New Thousand. “I think people who are playing alone are more at risk. Women, people of color are more at risk.”

In March, Gov. Kathy Hochul deployed tons of of National Guard troops into the subway system to assist police patrol stations and verify commuters’ baggage as a part of a wider crime-fighting plan. Hundreds of additional cops have been additionally dispatched into the system following a spate of violent assaults.

Following the transfer, subway crime was down 18. 2% final month, in contrast to the identical time interval final 12 months.

On Wednesday morning — just some hours earlier than the MTA auditions started — a 34-year-old man was stabbed within the neck and decrease again at a Lower East Side subway station.

On Saturday, a 30-year-old Bronx man was arrested for tried homicide for allegedly opening fireplace in a Harlem subway station. 

In late April, a former federal prosecutor was punched within the face by a crazed man whereas driving No. 2 practice on the Upper East Side.

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Jazz band The Outside In auditioned for the MTA’s Music Under New York Program. James Messerschmidt

In February, subway cellist Iain Forrest, 29,  mentioned he deliberate to cease performing after he was struck at the back of the pinnacle with a metallic water bottle —  the second assault he’d suffered within the underground in a 12 months.

The MTA mentioned its Music Under New York program presents musical performances within the transit system to entertain commuters and provides musicians a brand new platform.

The 25 chosen artists are allowed to schedule their performances on the transit hotspots and are given a banner designating them as a particular MTA performer.

The company didn’t instantly reply to The Post’s inquiry about performers’ security considerations.

Additional reporting by Amanda Woods

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