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Stranded band plays on Belfast street, awaits flight

David Chiappetta, left, and Mike Krum, right, perform

David Chiappetta, left, and Mike Krum, right, perform on a street in Belfast in Northern Ireland after a volcano in Iceland caused their flight to be canceled. Credit: Handout

On the upside, they have their guitars.

Mike Krum, a Brooklyn band that got its start in Long Beach, is stuck in Northern Ireland. Their tour is over, their budget exhausted. So the group's two members are busking for bread.

Strumming on the street at Cornmarket, a pedestrian mall in Belfast, the band displays a cardboard sign illustrating their plight: orange lava spilling from a volcano, and an airplane stamped out with a red slash.

"Save Mike Krum Volcano Victim," it says.

Belfast has responded amicably.

BBC Radio Ulster Monday morning sent listeners to the band in an on-air interview. The band subsequently pulled in 120 British pounds (about $183) in four hours.

"Old ladies will come up with a crumpled-up five. They'll put it in your hand," singer-songwriter Mike Krum, the band's namesake, said in a phone interview Monday evening. "Remember the blackout in New York? It's kind of like that. Everyone's having fun with it."

A local TV station dropped by, as did a reporter from The Sun.

Grounded by the volcanic ash that has stalled air travel across Europe, the pair hopes to return to New York Friday but hasn't received confirmation from Expedia. Meanwhile, they are eating cheap - at Subway, the American sandwich chain - and are crashing with their Irish promoter.

"So far, it's been awesome," said Krum, 33, a native of Garden City Park who lives with his cousin and bandmate, David Chiappetta, in Carroll Gardens. "Trying to turn lemons into lemonade."

The group, promoting a new album called "110," arrived in Ireland on April 6 and played the Irish National Guitar Festival in Drogheda. Then they headed north for four shows in Belfast. They were scheduled to fly back to New York on Sunday.

"We had budgeted enough money to survive for this trip," said Chiappetta, 34. "Literally, we had about 10 pounds left."

They were reluctant, at first, to sing for their supper. In Drogheda, they had decided to busk for fun, and a group of teenagers had swiped the cash from their guitar case as they played.

Spurred by necessity, they tried it again on a drizzly Sunday, in front of Belfast City Hall. They made only 12 pounds.

But Monday the weather, and their luck, turned.

And, if no flight materializes, they have a plan.

They'll take the train, and busk all the way to Spain.

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