Shepard in the Park on Sunday

CShepard (c) Beth OBrienCraig Shepard performed today, May 13th, 2012, at the top of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The pedestrian attendees were used to artistic distractions, clearly. Perhaps one person was truly surprised, even confused by a man playing music with so few looking. The majority, however, reacted as most hearty New Yorkers tend to do: stroll and gaze attentively, trudge by with shopping bags, or hustle a quick glance, just a peek, all the while attending to flying, thrilled, winded children.

Craig’s compositions, that day on trumpet and accompanied on melodica by Jack Callahan, blend expertly with frolics, soccer, arguments and sunlight. They are, these delicate notes, a string of aural pearls that lace the air with conjecture, pause and possibility.

Craig knows how to draw a peripheral crowd. The ices cart parked itself about fifteen feet away. Every picnic group, about a half dozen, made the journey to the cart, arcing a respectful distance and throwing a curious glare/keep going frown. A group of tie-wearing soccer players, young men all, took a loud, boastful break on a bank of benches to Craig’s left. And scooter-propelled children always found it necessary to brake with a flash and carefully observe a mostly silent man. A silent man playing a trumpet or holding a trumpet. A silent man with a pink-tipped nose, a porkpie hat and a small notebook from which to read his music. The scooter-pause was never more than 10 to 15 seconds, and then child break her rapt stare, lift her foot and scout the vicinity in search of her grown-ups.

Craig’s concert was a tidy 45 minutes. I knew it was finished only because his shoulders dipped just so, his mouth revealed a slight, feathery smile, and he walked away from the magnificent Manhattan backdrop that Sunset Park provides.

Thank you, Craig Shepard, for creating a musical space that welcomes silence.

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