Subway Idol
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Subway Idol

Hasn’t there always been more eclecticism in underground music than at street level? For instance, consider the idea of rodents running free on the sidewalk, along side shoppers and street vendors. It just wouldn’t happen. Underground, though, people are more accepting of the mousey population. And the more open-minded the environment, the more diverse the spoils. Case in point, subway music.
By virtue of working in the music industry, Torontoist got a chance to judge subway hopefuls in the 27th Annual TTC Subway Musicians’ Auditions at the CNE last Friday. Here’s a quick sample of some of the underground (literally) musicians you might hear next year in the TTC:
From left to right: Juno-winner Adam Solomon on blues guitar, folkish singer Roger Ellis on six-string acoustic, and Achilla Orru on the Kalimba. The Kalimba is a Ugandan instrument known here as the thumb piano. After the performance, Torontoist learned that Mr. Orru is the sole supplier of thumb pianos in the city. He also won the Ugandan Junior Thumb Piano Competition in 1975. Might as well change his name to the Thumb Master, with such a deep sound emanating from just two thumbs. We gave him the highest marks of the competition.
This is Nikolai Tichtchenko. From Kiev, Mr. Tichtchenko plays a guitar/mandolin-like Balalaika – which requires a lot of strumming. Also received high marks.
Normally there isn’t much that beats a Didgeridoo/Sitar combo. But here experimentalists Yoshito and Chio Yamana played a little over the average subway passengers’ head. Sorry if that’s projecting, but there’s only so much room for Sitar solos on the Yonge line.
Auditions are surprisingly the harshest part of subway musicianship. Most of these musicians, sadly, are not going to make it past the turnstiles with their instrument…We would have guess subway hassles or stinky TTC bathrooms would be worse. More interesting details:
Most Played Cover: The Beatles “Here Comes the Sun”
Strangest Cover: Bass-y rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
Goofiest Cover: “Super Mario Brothers Theme Song” on the sax