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Musicians Bringing New Sound To NYC Streets With Pop-Up Performances

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The pandemic hit the performing arts industry hard, but musicians, known for their creativity, found a way to keep working while bringing a new sound to New York City streets.

Performing pre-pandemic may have had the same smooth sound for Steven Duffy, but it was a much different look.

"We'd be touring, playing at bars and clubs," he told CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis. "Everything just got canceled. It was really devastating."

But he and fellow professional musicians, like they always do, turned to music and the city they love.

"We're just trying to bring joy back to the streets of New York," drummer Kevin Raczka said.

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They're providing pop-up performances with Brassic Rock, a group created in the COVID era.

"When people think brass bands, they think New Orleans," Duffy said. "We're kinda taking inspiration from that and trying to put our own New York spin on it."

"What a beautiful, unexpected experience. I can't look away. It's so great," said Lindsay Meiman, in the East Village.

The music enhanced outdoor dining for Meiman and her sister.

"If they'll be here, I'll be here," Meiman said.

That's music to the ears of restaurants that will take all the help they can get.

"I think whatever is exciting people and giving people a little bit of excitement helps. We all need a little bit of that," said Paul Downie, manager of the Wild Son restaurant.

CBS2 followed the band around the East Village as they performed at different restaurants, but that's not the only neighborhood where they've made stops.

The band pulled out all the stops for a performance caught on video in Hell's Kitchen. They ask those who stop to watch to send tips via Venmo.

"It's something to keep us, you know, helping to pay rent and keeping food on the table. Some of us have families," Raczka said.

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But for the performers, it's about getting people dancing, recording on their phones and bringing cheer to the city.

"A lot of people are just having a hard time right now," Duffy said. "I think music has the power to really kind of pull people out of some things and really heal people in some ways."

They want their music to be the cure.

Duffy and Raczka say you may see them playing on the streets with other bands, too. They're usually out in a group of five and you never know where they'll pop up.

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