By KATIE MILANI
Under the gold Beaux Arts chandeliers, hanging from the 48-foot ceilings in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall, a cast of colorful musicians pursued permits to perform under New York City streets.
On Tuesday, the 27th annual auditions for the Music Under New York program were held in order to add new talent to the program that presents more than 7,500 performances annually in the MTA’s subways and roads.
Like the diverse city it inhabits, the program featured a wide variety of acts that included everything from xylophone ragtime to traditional Moroccan music.
Donned in a black and white stripped referee t-shirt and black fedora, “Dean of the Scene” and proprietor of the Bowery Poetry Club, Bob Holman acted as Master of Ceremonies on the tiny stage that displayed the program’s new logo.
This year’s auditions were intended to offer a preview of the program’s new identity “that connects music and the subway system in a logical and musical way,” said, Paula Scher, the graphic designer who created the reworked logo.
For many of the performers, the intent was to not only to gain permission to perform amplified throughout the underground tunnels, but also to be seen and heard in the big city.
The Gemini Star Child, J.J. Biotic did just this. Making a spectacle of himself, the 29-year-old New York transplant from Eugene, Oregon wore a multi-colored wig, sunglasses, and spandex while performing what he calls new age hip-hop fusion.
The self-proclaimed “one man dance party,” hopes that his gyrating and rapping will give way to not only one of the 20 coveted spots in the program, but also discovery by producers.
For now, the 60 talented contestants are left in limbo as the wait to hear from the panel of judges who will announce the names of the performers who have been accepted in the coming weeks.
“This is the first time we’ve had an encore. We’ll allow an encore after all the acts,” Holman said after ragtime xylophone performer, Meagan Gillis, played “Girlfriends Melody” at lightning speed.
Gillis, like all of the performers at Music Under New York, were presumably hoping for an encore that would extend for the rest of their career.