'Subway Sets' Concerts to Feature Underground Buskers Playing on Rooftops

By Claire Oliver on July 30, 2013 6:52am 

Subway Sets
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Kickstarter/Subway Sets

COBBLE HILL — These underground musicians are finally getting their moment in the sun. 

A new fundraising campaign on Kickstarter aims to find talented subway buskers and give them a chance to perform high above the crowded and sweltering station platforms — on open-air rooftops across the city.

Subway Sets will hold its first concert Aug. 10, and founder Dan Pierson hopes to make it a monthly series.

“Everybody’s really excited about it, the musicians most of all,” said Pierson, 27, who moved to Cobble Hill from San Francisco in April to work for a venture capital fund.

He got the idea for Subway Sets shortly after he arrived to the city, when he heard 21-year-old British singer Robert Leslie performing at the Second Avenue F train stop and struck up a conversation with him. Pierson kept a scrap of paper with Leslie’s contact information on it, and, when he decided to throw a party on his Cobble Hill rooftop, he called Leslie up.

“The party was so much fun. I realized I wanted to do it all the time, not just as a one-time thing,” Pierson said.

Leslie will appear in Subway Sets' kickoff performance, along with Catey Shaw and three other musicians who will be chosen based on suggestions from the campaign's supporters.

“Every New Yorker has their favorite musician, whether it's [based on] where they live, what kind of music they like, or just a moment in time that they’ve held on to,” he said.

Pierson has spoken to several rooftop venues in Bushwick, Harlem, TriBeCa and DUMBO, and he'll choose one based on how much money the Kickstarter raises by July 31.

The campaign has already exceeded its $2,000 goal and had reached $3,200 as of Monday afternoon. Subway Sets also received a $1,000 grant from The Awesome Foundation, which Pierson will use to pay the musicians.

In the future, locations of the performances will change, so that no two evenings are the same.

“I like the idea of [using] different spaces,” Pierson said. “This is an interesting intersection of performance art and music. It’s going to be a moment in time that won’t really be reproduced.”

Tickets to the Aug. 10 concert start at $20 on the Subway Sets Kickstarter page.

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