“They sold sheet music and gave lessons, and that’s where I learned to play guitar,” Faccenda said. “The guy who taught me was Mr. Fred Napoli, he was old and had these gnarly arthritic hands, but he could play guitar. He was awesome.
“I used to bring him a cigar for each lesson, and he’d give me a few extra minutes of teaching,” he added.
As a young man, Faccenda was a part of a few bands, playing local clubs in Queens. But after hearing Eddie Van Halen play guitar, he decided he wasn’t ever going to be that good and pursued another career.
He worked for a number of years in different jobs, spending some time working for an IT Department. That lasted until 2011, when Faccenda found himself the victim of downsizing.
He took a few odd jobs to earn some cash, and was actually waiting to meet someone who owed him some money when his life changed.
“I was waiting and I saw a guy near the steps of the train station and he’s got a Les Paul Firebrand with an African ebony fret board hanging on his back,” he said.
“I went over to the guy and I said ‘That’s a gorgeous guitar, you keep that in a case, you keep it away from people. The guy looked at me and said, ‘But this is how I make my living, I play on the trains.’
“I was intrigued, so I asked him if there was any money in that, and he said that he had a nice apartment, a few cell phones and a girlfriend,” Faccenda added.
The two men kept in touch, and Faccenda helped him out by repairing his Netbook, which was riddled with spyware. When he came over Faccenda’s apartment to retrieve it, he looked around the apartment and saw all of Faccenda’s guitars and said that he had a proposition.
So Faccenda took his acoustic guitar and met the man at Broadway Junction and proceeded to show him the ropes on how to make a living busking.
The art of busking, or street performance, goes back to the beginning of time. Though it’s currently legal on the streets of New York City (really, what isn’t these days?), you need permits if you want to use a speaker or amplifier.
Faccenda’s friend taught him how to work the trains, how to approach an audience and how to avoid running afoul of the NYPD, who weren’t always friendly to buskers, especially on the trains.
Under his tutelage, Faccenda began work as a solo busker, working the J train and making up to $100 a day. And as you can imagine, during those years he saw it all and was even the victim of a violent incident.
Faccenda, who performs under the name The Reverend Matty F (he is a licensed reverend and can perform marriages), will meet with a much more friendly audience next Tuesday, April 13, at 8 p.m. as the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society continues showcasing local artists.
He'll be joining us from his studio here in Woodhaven, where he's been hosting online shows with live music for several years.
So far, we’ve showcased three very talented artists in Deborah Camp, Jennifer Lambert Technoquilter and MS,) and after Faccenda we have quiltmaker Louise Naples on Tuesday, April 27, and poet Christine Barbour on Tuesday, May 11.
By gathering our local artists, we’re hoping to see where their collaborations will lead us. We have been brainstorming and coming up with some fun ideas and locations for art shows.
All of our weekly meetings, including the showcases, are free. Just email us at email@example.com to get on our mailing list.
And if you’re a local artist who would like to be featured in one of our showcases, please reach out to us at the address above.
We look forward to seeing you on Zoom next Tuesday as Woodhaven’s Matt Faccenda continues his musical adventure.