Walk through Washington Square Park on a beautiful spring day and you’ll be met with a cacophony of sound: Children laughing, dogs barking, the splash of the water fountain, the ever-present rumble of passing vehicles, and the tangled sounds of some of the best street musicians the city has to offer.
The park is a ten-acre physical manifestation of New York’s creative soul. A frenetic buzz fueled by talent, ambition, eccentricity, and imagination. Every time I return—which should be more than I do—there’s always something (or someone) that delights.
Coyote and Crow
On my last visit, it was no different. Sitting west of the fountain, I heard Coyote & Crow (a.k.a Thomas and Jaime Kopie) long before I saw them. Thomas’ voice had an aggressive, James Hetfield-esque growl that immediately caught my attention. (Yes, I’m a Metallica fan.) Later he would tell me it sounded a little “Kermitty” in the beginning until a bad cold turned it into the gravelly texture it is today. Jaime sang back up.
Sartorially, the two were a hipster / Appalachia mix. He had the prerequisite beard and man bun (hidden under a black hat), and wore a paisley shirt with skinny jeans cuffed above his suede boots. She donned a long floral prairie dress with flat, embroidered Mary Janes, and wore her chestnut, waist-length hair loose à la Crystal Gale.
Thomas, banjo in hand, sang sitting on a handmade suitcase he fashioned into a foot-operated snare drum. (He made all their instruments.) With his left foot, he controlled the beater. With his right, he stomped on a tambourine. Jaime, playing a stand-up bass that looked like Thomas’ banjo but five times the size, stood next to him.
As soon as they started to sing, people gathered two to three people deep to enjoy the show. An angelic little boy, perhaps five years old, wearing turquoise sneakers and a shy smile had a grand time dancing his heart out. I’m also pretty sure he fancied Jaime.
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Technically, Coyote and Crow sing Americana, a blend of bluegrass, ragtime, folk, and mountain music, but the duo doesn’t feel the term quite fits. Their songs switch between original compositions and covers of classic rock-n-roll tunes from the ’60s and ’70s, all performed with a hillbilly flair they’ve coined “Old Time Rock n’ Soul,” inspired by “nature, folk tales, love, and life experiences.”
Jaime confessed to being a novice musician, but Thomas has played most of his life, teaching himself the guitar and later the banjo. He taught Jaime to play the bass. In his youth, music was an integral part of his “hanging out” as a full-time skateboarder which he did until his body finally said enough.
Life as Two of the City’s Best Street Musicians
The pair have been together 10 years, married almost four. They met, prophetically, on the way to a music festival in Tennessee. Today, they busk full-time in various parks in the city, and in the subways when it gets too cold. They also play a handful of small venues and private gigs.
Washington Square Park is their favorite spot. They enjoy playing for the diverse crowds, meeting new people, and the sense of camaraderie that exists among performers there. “Overall, we have each others’ back,” says Jaime.
They say they love their life (“It’s better than the crappy retail jobs we had upstate”), and I could see the sentiment wasn’t betrayed by even a hint of irony. They play a few hours a day, 5-6 days a week, and enjoy the rest in Brooklyn with their dog Paisley.
Watching Coyote & Crow, I remembered how much I enjoy Americana, folk, or whatever the hell it is, but I rarely play it at home. I use to put “Man of Constant Sorrow” by the Soggy Bottom Boys, on repeat along with the rest of the cuts from O Brother, Where Art Thou, years ago, but that was the extent of my listening habits.
Inspired by the couple, I started to pick up a CD, and then remembered that I didn’t own a player anymore, having given in to iTunes long ago. Lucky for me, their website sells the full album and single track downloads. My favorites are “Old Time Rock’N’Soul (This Ol’ Banjo)”, “Things Aren’t the Same”, “Witch’s Kitchen”, and “Mountain Rivers”.
If you’re in Washington Square Park, look up Coyote & Crow, and if you see them, say hi for me. But more importantly, take a few moments to relax and sit a spell.
It’ll be time well spent.
P.S. I put together a short teaser below of Coyote & Crow’s cover of “House of the Rising Sun” with a bonus: that little boy I told you about getting down to the music. He totally slew me. (Also, continuity Nazis, I know this video is a bit of a mess but I didn’t originally intend to put an edited video together. Note to self: Plan better.)
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108 thoughts on “Meet two of the Best Street Musicians in NYC: Coyote and Crow”
I would have enjoyed the show. I was lucky enough to sit in on Old Crow Medicine Show and The Devil Makes Three few months back in Augusta Georgia.
This music has lost a lot of its popular pull. But it’s truly a piece of Americana.
I just went to NYC last week, I always hate to leave. Washington Sq park is always a good time!
It sure is. Where did you hang this past trip?
Down in Greenwich, West Village, Soho area, we were all over downtown. Had such a great time. Stayed at The Marlton Hotel close to Washington Sq Park, so cute! Just put up a part I write up. I so need to visit more often.
Looks really good..Creating intentions for other ..Happy to see this post! 🙂 🙂
They really are!
Uh love folk music! Will be visiting New York next week and will take a walk through the park. Hope they are there! Sami 🙂
I’m sure they will be. Tell them I sent you. LOL 🙂
I love the banjo. I think this is great. I wish I could do that. I love Bluegrass.
Me too.. I’m not very musically inclined. They were great. 🙂
What amazing city NYC and with these people all become so wonderful!
Looks so cool! 🙂 I so like it.
Music and Travel. Two of my fave things!
Such a great combination. 😀
THANKS FOR SHARING!
I love this and being able to share true muscisians art forms and personalities
I’m really glad you love it. I think they are a great duo and I am so glad I ran into them.
Those people and their music are fantastic 😍
Right? I think so too. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂
Cool man! Its awesome ..#video
Glad you like it. Thank you
wow…incredible!! have always wanted to visit NY.
Is a very special place! Glad you liked the piece.
oh my god i love this people but plss dont at my road lol
I just stumbled across your blog as I’m moving mine from blogger to wordpress at the moment 🙂 I’ll keep on reading your posts!
Hi! Welcome. I’m thrilled you’re going to follow my posts. Thank you.
Cheers for putting the video at the end, as a were just about to head over to You tube for a gander. They sound great, really good stuff. Well written post as well, good inspiration.
Glad you liked it! They’re great-right? Appreciate the kind words and welcome to the blog. I hope you return. 🙂
Nice post! Love the video 🙂
Thank you. I”m glad you enjoyed it.
Thanks 4 sharing!
Thanks for checking it out!
LOVE LOVE LOVE NY. Amazing photos and amazing blog. Just love it!
Thank you so so so much! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. Welcome to the blog!
Love this post, love those people, love New York City! I lived there (very, very briefly) in my early 20s, and it was such a memorable experience. The madness, the beauty, the originality – everything you could ever want out of life was there. Love the raw, mad beauty of that city and it’s people.
This post brought back those memories for me, and for that, I want to thank you! Love your writing and photos, as well.
I am so glad. I couldn’t ask for more than being able to inspire such a wonderful reaction. Thank you so much for letting me know and welcome to the blog. I hope you return. 🙂
Nice blog, great impressions !
Thank you very very much! I appreciate you taking the time to check it out.
i like your article, very inspiring and thank you for your post.
I’m so glad you liked it. Thank you!
YUO Very NICE AND Great Post
Thank you so much!
Thanks for the experience of a New York day in Washington Square Park! 🙂
Hi Carla! You’re most welcome. It’s fun down there. I really need to go more. I tend to fall into the lazy New Yorker thing where anything outside of a few city blocks might as well be in Australia. I have to work on that. lol
Great street photography!!!!!
Your posts just make my my day😊
Thank you so much! You’re comment just made mine. 🙂
Is that Zack Orion?
Cool to see people playing for the sheer love of it! Check out my new blog, The Stringbandit Journal,about life in a similar kind of band…
Agreed. It’s nice to see anyone doing anything actually for the love of it. It’s more of a precious commodity than it should be.:)
Great blog – wish I could see all those places…
Thank you very much!
Awesome! I love that shot of the boy between the two performers, as well as the one of them belting out their songs. Great street photography!
Thanks, Sue! That little boy is just adorable-right? Love the expression he has on his face looking at Jaime. Thanks for the lovely compliment. So glad you liked the piece. 🙂
Great post. You helped me enter another world.
Such a lovely compliment Lyle, thank you. It’s most appreciated. 🙂
The New York way of life reminds me a little of London. Cute vid and cute little boy 🙂
Great post, Susan. The video was very cool.
Thanks, Robin.. I’m slowly starting to get video into stuff. I have a long way to go on editing but I am having fun. 🙂
Very nice post! I almost heard the music in my head while reading it! Regards from Seychelles!
Love New York , so much Possibilities for great Pictures and amazing feeling
NYC is my favorite city, there’s magic in every corner 😀
That’s a great way to say it. 🙂
Wanting to see NY badly! I’d love to see that kind of environment.
I hope you make it here. I’m sure you’ll love it. 🙂
Love NYC!!! The eclectic style it’s showned in every corner.
Very very true!
That is great. I so want to visit NY, all the diversity would be so interesting and fun to see.
I hope you do, Mary! There’s no doubt that you’ll see things here you won’t anywhere else. 🙂
That is an interesting instrument. I knew banjos all my life but the stand-up bass was a surprise. Like they say, New York has everything.
Thanks for this post. 🙂
Oh how I miss New York. can’t wait to get back there! Thank you so much for sharing <3
You MUST return! 🙂
I’ve watched now. The wee boy was sweet, getting his groove on.
I just love it when he brushes his hair out of his face.. Like he’s worked so hard dancing. Sooo cute.
I couldn’t watch the video as it said it was set to private. What am I doing wrong? I will need to locate them on the Internet and have a listen since I’m a fan of folk music.
Argh! Forgot to turn it to public. It’s fixed now. Thanks for the heads up!!!
Oh OK. I always assume it’s me who is glitching.
Did it work for you now?
Yes. I just watched. Thanks.
Me gustan estos tipos de artistas se nota la humildad solo en su presencia que dioslos bendiga
listening to that duo now, they damn good thanks for sharing 🙂
Awesome! Glad you like them. I really enjoyed listening to them and they’re super nice too.
I LOVE NEW YORK <3
Yep.. It’s pretty cool. 🙂
if you guys are interested in this you should check out queens of royalty
Is it a band?
I’ve never been, I so want to!
Where do you live?
Really? I lived there for a year when I was just out of college. I stayed in a hostel on Calle de Prado. Loved it.
Yeah it’s a great city.
I understand. You should!
😄 u should