05/28/2010 06:30 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Seeking Sound Underground: House of Waters

When House of Waters played Union Square one afternoon last week, the camera phone-toting crowd put most scattered subway audiences to shame.

Max ZT, the frontman of the instrumental world music band, didn't seem phased by the turnout. Subway performances tend to be more lucrative than your average gig, he said after playing for more than an hour and a half without pause, bouncing on his toes the entire time.

"A $40 gig at some hip club almost is not worth it, compared to playing the street and playing with my friends," he said. "At least that's how I feel now."

ZT plays the hammered dulcimer, a hulking string instrument typically used in folk and Celtic music in the U.S. But it also comes from a "pre-Bible" tradition, he said.

For House of Waters, who incorporate Irish, Senegalese, Indian and Afro-Peruvian influences - among others - into their music, it's the key component to the "mash of sound" they hope to turn into something new.