Sounds of Silence

Welcome to the new Lincoln Road, where the Muzak is live

Following the expiration of the outdoor-music permits, Lincoln Road restaurants have not been forced to pay for music. But some say they would actually prefer to pay more for the right to choose. Azucena Bustillo, co-owner of the Lincoln Road Café, would like a free-market approach to music on the road. "It should be each business for itself," says the outraged owner, who insists her restaurant has suffered financial losses since the new policy was put into place. She fumes, "[Patrons] are irritated. It's not music; it's one person out there blowing a flute. Now the city wants us to help pay. In the past we would pay, and everyone would be happy. People would call from all over during the week to ask about what music we were going to have."

But that freedom came with a loud price. According to Ronnie Singer, the city has received complaints of excessive noise from Lincoln Road businesses and residents whose property abuts the popular outdoor mall. The Lincoln Road Café has been cited as a particular nuisance, often sending coffee-sipping customers of neighboring Books & Books running for cover. Apparently one exuberant couple's salsa con saboron the mall's sidewalk may be another diner's dissonance.

So what's Lincoln Road going to sound like as millennium fever approaches? "We have a new jazz group," Hartigan enthuses, "the V Loop Trio. They're very, very, very, very background music." Some of the other illustrious talent currently fit for Beach ears: Sue Wilansky, a.k.a. the Silver Nightingale (yes, she was that "one person out there blowing a flute"); Katherine Farnham, pianist and former back-up singer for white-bread diva Celine Dion; and classical guitarist Pablo Mendoza. Discussing future possibilities, Hartigan ruminates aloud: "Just two weeks ago Peter Tork of the Monkees was playing in town. Maybe next time we'll ask him to stick around and play."

Music editor Brett Sokol contributed to this report

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