Reluctantly, I tried busking again. I wasn’t rushing to do so, but the days had been warm (following an unusually cold winter and spring), and crowds were out. Also, I had set for myself a financial goal I wanted to make, and had recently gotten my classical guitar situated with a peg on the bottom, so I could put on a strap. Taking all those things together, I threw the guitar in the back of the car and headed out for the night.
It’s not that I hate street performing- many of the people, if not a small majority, are nice, or at least have the grace not to pay attention if they don’t want to listen. It’s less abusive than some other jobs I had, and often (at least measured by hours) pays better. What I don’t like are the moments where I have to “babysit'”, or the constant worry that someone will try to rob me. Anyone who read my past blog entries for the past several years knows that it has happened, or in the case of stealing, attempts have been made. Also, it’s just draining. I try to sing and play over crowds, sirens, motorcycles, and I just get tired, while drunks wake up and want me to be as bombastically energetic as they are.
I liked busking better since Anthony arrived. He owns a restaurant downtown, the V.I.P. Room, and around ten thirty or eleven sets up a mobile food stand where he sells Philly cheese steaks. He was one of the nicest guys on the street, and even hired me on occasion to play at his restaurant. Another reason I like him around (besides the fact that it adds an air of legitimacy to “The Corner”) is that it’s good to have someone you know nearby, just in case something goes down. He greeted me this night as he was setting up and told me that in the past week or two some other people had sometimes some other people had been playing in my spot as well. I guess I need to get out earlier.
My first customer was a younger lady in a black dress, who stopped me during a song and asked if I know any more modern songs, because she wanted to sing with me. I said I didn’t, so she asked if I knew “Amazing Grace”, which I did, and she wanted to sing along. Thankfully, she was a decent singer, although I had to help her with the words sometimes. She was joined by her friend, who picked up a verse she (and admittedly, I didn’t even know), although he managed to sing it exactly one half step flat the entire song. They still liked joining me though, and tipped me before they left.
As the night went on, I got a few handful of tips, some from guys in groups, and a good amount from two young women dressed for the night out. A college student asked me about music, a few bachelorettes gave tips, one giving me a mint from a restaurant (“It’s all I have!” she smiled) and so on with such usual events of the night. It was mild and cool, and the students were already largely gone, making the crowds dwindle more than the last week or two.
I did get a twerker. It happens, but regrettably. Even more regrettably, it was during “My Back Pages” which isn’t really a twerking song anyway. One of the more annoying parts of the job is that in another situation, I thought this would be funny, but now everyone films everything, so I eel have to look composed for Youtube. Case in point, eventually she went away, followed by a couple guys who were hanging on, and told me I was “staring.” I didn’t even have my glasses on at the time, so probably not. The girl later came back to twerk again, this time to a gospel song, “I’ll Fly Away.” Lyrical context is important in situations such as these.
Not much else happened that night. People were friendly, and in a decent mood. The guy who had previously threatened to stab me came by, but he left after awhile without saying anything. A guy in about his thirties, with a ponytail, gave me a twenty. We chatted for a while about guitars and stuff. He went to North High School, and asked me if I knew someone, but I didn’t. He eventually headed off into the night too. A middle aged lady in a blue shirt had been listening sort of just around the corner. She gave me some change but apologized because she didn’t have more. I said that was okay.
I finally quit playing about one thirty, after about two hours, and put my things away. A lady with a bulldog stopped by, and said she was hoping to hear me play, but with many apologies I told her my voice was shot, which it was, and I was headed off. I said goodnight to Anthony, and walked off home. I checked near Dempsey’s- Greg wasn’t there that night, but another guy, an older, soft-spoken man with a silver goatee who introduced himself as Andrew, chatted with me. He had been playing down the street, but hadn’t had the greatest night. I eventually said goodbye to him too, and went back home.