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'Hey, stranger. Tell me about that guitar.'


guitar Photo Credit: Deidre Schoo

In a city this bustling and impersonal, not too many folks stop to chat up strangers. But that dynamic seems to change when that stranger has a guitar. These musicians can’t seem to go a day without a curious person approaching them. Here are their adventures:

Celine Dutertre (pictured)
17, Financial District
Guitar: A three-year-old Epiphone Hummingbird.
Music: “I really don’t know how to describe it, but it’s really lyrical self-expression.”
On strangers’ questions: “When you have a guitar, it’s like a magnet. Sometimes, you attract crazy people and a lot of homeless people, but then again you can speak to people with music more than words.”
Recent encounter: “This guy from California was traveling the country and somehow made it here. We had a spare djembe — it’s an African drum — and we all sat down and played together and shared stories.”

Ellen Levin
55, Chelsea
Her banjo: A five-string banjo from Africa. “People don’t know what it is. ... Children think of it as a drum, they want to touch it, want to play with it.”
Music: Bluegrass
On strangers’ questions: “I get the most interesting questions. They find it just fascinating. One out of 20, maybe one out of 50 recognize that it’s a banjo.”
Recent encounter: “One time when we were jamming, someone came up to us and sprayed us with a fire extinguisher. He must have been drunk. ”

Erik Saxvik
28, Astoria
Guitar: A two-year-old Blueridge.
Music: Folk/rock/indie
On strangers’ questions: “It’s a conversation starter, especially when I’m with my band, The Hollows. There’s intrigue behind meeting someone with a guitar. People want to be close to potential celebrities.”
Recent encounter: “Once a homeless guy came up to my bandmate and I in Columbus Circle and asked if we needed a drummer.”

Brook Pridemore
31, Bushwick
Guitar: A five-year-old Martin. “I traveled all over the world, and it’s covered with stickers from that.”
Music: Folk/punk
Recent encounter: “Once, this guy wanted to play ‘Lola’ by The Kinks with me, but he said I was playing in the wrong key. Then, I decided I’d do my own thing, and he flipped out at me and left. I saw him again on a train platform later, and he had an airhorn and honked it in my face.”


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