There are plenty of things to do in New York City on a warm summer Saturday, but if you haven’t spent an afternoon with David Ippolito, The Guitar Man from Central Park, you’re missing out. Whether alone or with the family, he’s a big dose of feel good and who can’t use more of that?
You’ll find him in the park by The Lake on the northwest side, near the path that leads to the Hern’s Head, a large rock formation that’s a favorite among travelers and kids who love to climb. (See map below.)
He’ll be singing in front of 50, 60, 70 or more. David’s guitar in hand. They’ll be spread out on the lawn, filling park benches, shoes off with big grins, singing and swaying to the music.
If you’re thinking David’s just another talented busker singing for his supper, God knows the city is filled with them, he’s not. David is an institution. He’s played in the same spot every Saturday for the last 25 years (weather permitting), and he’s still going strong. Visitors love him and there are locals who’ve long since made David’s concerts a mainstay of their summer Saturdays.
I first came upon David Ippolito in 2014.
I was walking in the park, took a left when I normally turn right, and there he was. He was performing in front of an audience other street musicians would kill for. Standing behind a tall mic, he played his guitar as if he were on a concert stage.
He wore tattered jeans ripped at the knees and a baggy blue tank top that hung passed his hips. On his chest, a peace sign peeked out from behind his guitar—a signature ensemble. I plopped myself down on the edge of the sidewalk (there was nowhere else to sit) and watched his bare feet tap to the beat as he sang.
He was the consummate performer. Upbeat. Cheery. Inclusive. He sang with an joy that belied the countless times he’s sung his roster of original songs and covers over the years.
There was James Taylor, the Beatles, and Simon & Garfunkel, and other songs I recognized but had no idea who made them famous. He joked, told stories, talked to passersby, and invited the audience to join him in a song or five. Which they did.
I was on his Facebook page recently (see above). He’d posted a video from a recent Saturday. A fan had captured one of his performances that morphed into a Central Park dance party (which I’m ALL about, by the way). In his caption, he called it a “NYC moment” and I’d have to agree. They’ll remember that afternoon with a grin and a chuckle for years to come.
On that first day, I’d planned to stay a few minutes. I had things to do, places to be. I had no time for a sing along. Yet two hours later I found myself still rocking to the beat.
Don’t you just love when that happens?
David Ippolito usually gets to the park around 1 pm and will sing 4-5 hours. In case of inclement weather, check out David’s Facebook page for any last-minute announcements.
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