The auditions are over and now the waiting begins for the city's transit authority to decide which eight musicians are good enough to play in the subway.
Turmoil and competition among intinerant subway musicians scuffling for loose change caused the TTC to hold auditions in an attempt to weed out less talented performers.
Three dozen hopefuls, ranging from a group called The Beetle Brothers (a synthetic Beatles group) to a gentleman playing two trumpets simultaneously, gave their best before a panel of five volunteer judges last night. The judges are reviewing all the performances on cassette tapes today, and results of the contest will be announced next week.
Eight "winners" are to be chosen and will pay the TTC $50 each for the exclusive use of a subway station as the approved performer.
The performers will begin in mid-September and work their stations for the next six months in a sanctioned trial of live subway serenades.
A popular performer is one-time band leader Frank Motley (the two- trumpet man) who wants to get back in the music business.His band was called Frank Motley and His Motley Crew.
A young man from Orono, Ontario, impressed some observers with a harmonica blues recital.
Dress was conservative at least by current punk standards. One performer in pleated pants, a bleached shirt, suspenders and formal black dining slippers did his thing on flute and saxophone.
An old-time fiddler showed up in error -- he expected to be paid $50 to perform, not to pay for the right to play.
A transit authority spokesman said the judges will have a difficult time choosing the eight winners. He says 15 or 16 of the hopefuls represent "a lot of untapped talent." He added that the auditions should get "the cream of the crop."
Jonathan Earp, a 27-year-old guitar teacher, gave the judges snatches of Ravel and Duke Ellington. He felt auditions are not needed because the law of supply and demand would sort out the best performers. Earp described the auditions as "a pretty crazy, semi-democratic, fascist setup."
But Earp said, he went along with the auditions because "my wife Sarah, is pregnant and I need the money."
Earp has made as much as $120 week as a street musician and once made $27 in 15 minutes. He says it is hard work in the winter but the subways are warm. Another would be trackside troubadour is Jim Heineman, a veteran of the local club scene who began busking six or seven years ago. He presented a jazz flute and saxophone duet with bassist Wayne Davis.
Cassettes containing excerpts from the eight winning performances will be distributed to local radio stations when the results are announced, a transit spokesman said.