Impromptu jam in a NYC subway car

In this video from the NYC subway, a singer named Jessica Latshaw, bearing a small uke, finds herself sitting across from a gentleman with a fine pair of bongos. The two begin an impromptu jam session, emceed by a random gregarious stranger and captured for posterity by a subway rider with a camphone. The performance is just fine, and it's clear from the footage that the rest of the car is having a fine time.

In theory, it's possible that the whole thing is a fix, "buzz marketing" from Latshaw and co, and if so, well, it's an extraordinarily nonobnoxious example of the form.

okay- what you are about to watch is a true new york experience. what originally started out as a typical nyc subway ride (sitting across from guy who smelled like urine) turned into an awesome performance by two people who have never met before. i captured the whole thing on video.

never a dull moment on the nyc subway (Thanks, z7q2!)


  1. Golly, in my clubbing days the smell of urine only added to the experience.

    Oh, and they’re congas. Not bongos.

  2. I see that conga guy all the time on the shuttle b/w times square and grand central.  He does the same shtick every time for the 1 min ride. At the end, he asks everyone for a dollar which makes everyone laugh.  Then he says to watch for him on America’s Got Talent or some show like that.

    1. I used to see a guy with a stomped, beat up trumpet; he’d make horrible noises with it, punctuated with “Give me money and I’ll stop!”.

      1. I think it’s more “singer gets center stage”, which happens in all musical groups except Santana.

        1. Ha, that didn’t take long. 

          Another common white tendency–finding some other reason than a common white tendency for common white actions.

  3. Music on the subway cars is an everyday occurrence. You see black barbershop quartets, Latin mariachi bands, kids rapping for tips, you name it. 

    What’s different here? Oh, it’s a white girl with a ukelele.

    1. Jesus Christ, it’s not necessary to be offended by everything.  Is it possible to just enjoy a song on the internets?

  4. I am sad that some commenters are hating on this video because the girl is white.  She got most of the camera time because she was leading the music.  These two musicians got on BoingBoing because they are supposedly strangers and also this is quite impressive for an on-the-subway performance.  Not because it is a white girl with a uke.  Some of these comments read like being white is a dis qualifier for rightfully-deserved attention.

    1. Hmmm, I looked at it the other way around. Every time I’ve been to NYC I see African American or Latin musicians on the subway giving free performances which I enjoyed very much. I didn’t see those stories here on Boingboing and they’ve been going on for years so there’s certainly a part of me that thinks this is only here because she’s white.

      Of course maybe I missed those other posts.

      1. The point your missing is that the reason this is getting attention (from BoingBoing and others) is that it’s (supposedly and I do think it is not set up) IMPROMPTU — two strangers who decide to jam together.  Yes, there are lots of musicians on the subway all the time, African American, Latino etc, but they are usually a group or duo or whatever that have planned to perform together.  Again it’s the impromptu randomness of this that’s getting it attention.  Also, besides the fact that the singer is the leading the music and therefore has the camera on her, the video is taken by a guy, so obviously he’s gonna focus on the girl, duh.  If you want to put a prejudicial spin on it, blame it on sexism, not because she’s white.  (And you do minorities a disservice – ever heard of “cry wolf” — if racism is cried out at every little thing, it loses significance, for those moments when it really may be a case of racism.)

  5. Superb performance from both.
    Hey, if you don’t like music, don’t comment, we don’t wanna know.

  6. And this is why we need conductors to go through cars and make sure riders aren’t bothering other riders who may just want to read and not be subjected to other riders loud music and phone conversations.

    1. yeti, you subjected me to that yesterday. What are you, the public pisser’s agent or something?

      1. She’s gonna be huge! The next Amber Lamps!

        & yes, I get a 10% kickback on any licensed promotional materials.

  7. He’s been doing that “Moose Call” schtick for years. I am always kind of impressed that he seems to be having fun despite that he must have done that routine thousands of times.

  8. If this were a publicity stunt, you’d probably be able to understand WTF she’s singing over the HORRIBLE noise of the subway.

  9. A couple of years ago, I was on the 7 train from a Mets game back to Manhattan, most of my ride graced by a young woman facing the door, singing beautifully. I didn’t want to risk breaking the spell, and thus only glanced at her in my peripheral vision, and kept my camera holstered. 

    But, not everyone is as big a weenie as I am.

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