Music: The Bands of Summer

Street minstrels fill American cities with a joyful noise

Aicient Athens had its bards. Medieval France had its jongleurs; Elizabethan London, its ballad singers and costermongers. Today, U.S. cities have their street musicians: modern minstrels who weave their fragile melodies over the pedal point of trucks and subways, amid a chorus of honking horns and an obbligato of blaring transistor radios.

Day and night you find them, on museum steps, in parks and markets, along waterfronts and under arcades. The groups have antic names like the Tarmac Trio, Three-Part Invention and Dynamic Logs. Mimes,...

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