Maybe you've never heard of Earl Gadsden, but around the BART system, his face and his music are certainly known. And he's not alone; he's just one of many musicians who view BART stations as their stage.
Any rapid transit station, in any big city, reinforces the notion that the closer we find ourselves to strangers, the more distance we tend to need. Music brings people together.
"I see a lot of people who wish they had time to stop...or you get a smile and it tells you are doing something for them," Gadsden said.
BART tried to keep musicians out, at first. In 1987, it took a lawsuit by a now-dead violinist named Nicholas Leiser to change the policy.
BART's free areas remain wide-open to a virtual symphony of soloists who playing all kinds of instruments. Now, guys like Earl Gadsden are as much a part of BART as the trains and turnstiles.