Every year when we go to the ArtsFest in Riverside Park along the river, there's always something musical that's new, and delightful. A couple of years ago an engaging dude from California was selling, and of course playing, his replicas of Jerry Garcia's iconic guitars, the Tiger and the Wolf. They looked and sounded great.
A jazz sitar player returned this year, playing along with one of his many CDs. The most mesmerizing duo appeared only one year; they were a willowy couple who played wind and string instruments and sang their fairy-tale songs. I really should have bought a CD of theirs -- just beautiful aural art.
This year's treat was a local lady who teaches a special children's music program designed in Princeton, NJ, called Music Together. She was playing what looked like an old '50s sci-fi B-movie prop of a flying saucer! It is called a Hang Drum (it means "hand") and sounds somewhere between a steel pan drum and a harp and was created by two musical artists in Switzerland. These "melodious tuned steel idiophones" are, it seems, handmade in limited quantities and very hard to get. Played either in the lap or on a stand using fingers and hands instead of mallets, different models have a variety of scales.
We were there early in the day this year and thus missed the many bands who play from afternoon into the evening. The eccentric soloists are so much easier to see and hear before the crowds fill every inch of sidewalk and street, and they create vivid memories for this tourist slouching through culture.