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Violinists behind Taylor Swift's 'I Knew You Were Trouble' video at MBTA's South Station

Posted by Andrew Tran  April 10, 2013 01:22 PM

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A video posted to YouTube of pair of violinists covering Taylor Swift's "I knew you were trouble" in South Station has been getting a lot of attention.

Almost 10,000 people viewed the video since it was posted Sunday by Rhett Price and Josh Knowles, who regularly perform at South and North Stations.

Previously, the pair filmed videos of their pop music arrangements, like Justin Timberlake's 'Suit & Tie' using a laptop.

"It was fun and people like watching them but I didn't think it represented our playing and musicianship," said Price.

For two hours in March, the pair played the Taylor Swift song over and over again while waiting for long enough breaks between train arrivals. They chose the take that had the most energy and passion over the unblemished take with violins in perfect tune, he said.

Price and Knowles began performing together in 2010, after the pair quit their jobs and focused on playing music to pay their bills.

"Josh and I were like, 'I don't want to get a day job. I don't want to work in a mall. I want to do music. So we got together and are working really hard to make it work," he said.

Price, 24, grew up in Texas and was trained with fiddle lessons while Knowles, 23, grew up in Worcester and trained classically. Each person's perspective, from frantic licks to chord progression, contributed to their arrangement compositions.

They played at the Boston Common and Public Garden. When it got cold they decided to busk underground in the MBTA stations without a permit.

"Basically we were broke and just needed a money more than we needed to follow rules, honestly. You gotta eat you know?" said Price.

They finally got a permit to perform after they were kicked out of South Station three days in a row. Eventually, their busking performances were able to pay for their rent. Their early morning schedule also opened up the rest of their day to writing arrangements or recording or playing in other bands in the evening. They try to arrange two new songs a week based on what's trending on YouTube or the Billboard charts or an older song they enjoy.

"We've been really lucky and really blessed that people are generous enough. It helps sustain us so we can put our time and effort into the careers that we want."

The overall reaction to their playing in the T stations have been positive, except for the occasional person not interested in listening to a Justin Bieber cover at 9 a.m.

T workers especially are receptive to their performances. "One guy put a couple dollars in the case and one of the guys is always requesting more Johnny Cash songs," said Price.

The duo tend to get positive responses from commuters, as opposed to another famous instance of a violinist ignored in a D.C. subway station.

"No one is going to argue that Joshua Bell is an outstanding violinist. But we definitely don't play classical music. That makes a difference," said Price. "We had people come up to us: 'Dude, I was just listening to that music on my iPod and you're doing it.'"

There aren't any album plans for the two. But they are already planning their next music video at another notable location.

On Tuesday, Price and Knowles performed for the Institute of Contemporary Art. It was their first official gig together.

Maybe the video would lead to more things. Price said he was optimistic.

"As our schedules get busier, which hopefully it will, then maybe we won't be playing in the subway quite as much," he said.

That's the pair's goal-- to not have to play underground forever.

"I'd love to play Madison Square Garden at this point. We have big, outrageous dreams, so we're working really hard to make that happen."

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