Hey buddy, let's have a tune, one man said with a laugh, already turning to go.
"What would you like to hear?" Hans Wolff called after him, violin wedged between shoulder and jaw.
Well, said the man, breath seeping out along Beaver Street, how about "Turkey in the Straw?"
Wolff smiled, readying his bow.
It was a cold day downtown, but the 58-year-old was nonetheless in his element, standing in front of Central Market with a donation basket at his feet and a stream of people passing by.
Wolff was born in Germany and picked up the violin when he was in his 20s. A love of street music was born.
It remained when Wolff moved his family to Greenville, S.C., about 20 years ago to take a technology job. There, he fell into a burgeoning arts scene, playing on the street both before it was legal - he has the citations to prove it, he said - and then after a downtown rebirth.
"I kept it up even during the times it wasn't cool," he said, offering a passerby a taste of Beethoven's "Fur Elise."
A dollar dropped into the basket.
Wolff was on vacation and in York for about a week, visiting his daughter Susi, a 22-year-old who took a job with Honeywell last year.
"This is my lunch break," he said. Then, "York seems like a great place to play."
Wolff heard about York's downtown arts scene through a city councilman, a man with a German-sounding name, he said.
Councilman Michael Helfrich recalled getting an email from Wolff, and inviting him to play. Helfrich spoke last year in favor of relaxing the rules for such performers, in an effort to draw people downtown.
"I just thought it (street artists) could be a good economic driver to bring in foot traffic and improve the aesthetics," he said. "I think there's an excitement about it."
Back on the street, the requests continued.
Jim Young, of York, asked Wolff for an Irish jig. Two bars into the song, he'd identified "Irish Washerwoman," clapping his hands.
One woman requested a British patriotic song, and laughed despite herself when it followed.
Soon, wife Pat Wolff dropped off a steaming cup of coffee ("I always bring him coffee where he's playing," she said) and a few minutes later the "Turkey in the Straw" request was filled.
That earned another buck in the basket.
Eventually a passerby asked the violinist what he likes. Does he have a favorite?
Songs with double-stops are good, Wolff said, because they're louder and work well outside. With that, he blew on his fingers and drew the bow across the strings. For a minute the music mixed with the buzz of conversation, melded with the deep thrum of truck traffic.
"Happy days are here again," the violinist said.