Thursday, March 27, 2008

I used to ride a Kawasaki, now I play a Yamaha
Here is a picture of my guitar, which I got on Thursday.
Larry and I went downtown, right in the ghetto where items are fenced that have questionable origins. I didn't think I would find a guitar after we got down there, because there were only about 12 of them, out of all the 5 pawn shops. But, there was this Yamaha, which they wanted 100 bucks for. I offered the guy 80 bucks and he said "no." Then, I realized that it came with a case, which is a 20 dollar value. I went back and asked him if I could give him 100 dollars even, (he would cover the $6.50 in tax) He went for it. They don't call me the Donald Trump of Mandarin for nothing!
Well, the guitar is a very fine instrument. Yamaha's are the ones that the whole folk group at St. Bernards strummed. It is because they are about the lowest priced guitars that are still quality instuments that are available. And so, I now own a Yamaha F-310. There is one on e-bay which they started the bidding for at $129.00.
Mine is just about brand new.
We (Larry and I) went down to the landing to play. Larry couldn't keep his hands off of my new guitar. He seems to like to play it whenever he gets a chance.
Right now, I have made $40 in tips playing the thing.
I will be mailing mom the first dollar that I made with it; I kept it.
Well, the library is closing, but I had to at least post something to say that I got the money and, things are working out fine. I am to go back to the Barnes and Noble after I leave here, and play some more. I made 14 bucks in about 2 hours. -very slow, but I have my whole life ahead of me!
Um, yeah, so here is another picture of the Calico cat, and I will do more later.
Big Tree Falls Almost On Us
A huge pine tree, which we knew was ready to fall, fell yesterday. It was during a storm which boasted 50 mile per hour winds.
We had been looking at the tree and trying to guess which of our tents it would fall upon and which of us would be squashed like a locust under someone's boot.
I even had tried to use the hatchet to put a notch in the thing and try to encourage it to go the other way.
Well, it fell and misse my tent by about 4 feet. A piece broke off, (about a 700 pound piece) and landed about 6 feet from Larry's. I guess we are blessed.

Here is the picture of the cat, as promised.
They are getting big. We don't have to worry about their survival after we go on tour, they are the 'kings of the jungle' for sure. More later.

It Isn't A Free Lunch

Police Raid Camp

The second raid of the camp in a year and a half took place about a week ago. The police came and told us that we needed to "vacate" the spot. We were allowed to take whatever we wantedLarry's World with us, and we were not asked for ID or harassed. We grabbed our guitars and clothing and left. We now live about 300 yards away in another spot. Larry's tent no longer exists as pictured to the right. We don't really care too much, as we realized that we didn't have much to lose. They got the calico cat, though, who was friendly enough to walk up to the cops and the crew of prisoners who were bagging up everything and clearing the spot. The black cat was wiser, and we still have him. We don't know the fate of the calico. Hopefully he was brought to the Humane Society, or something.

Street Musicianship
The job of street musician is more than a full time job. When I am not at the library, getting new material, I am practicing the new material, or playing the new material, or on a bus to go to a spot where there is something going on and the potential for a thousand people to be there...
Saturday, I went to Jacksonville Beach to play music.
There had been several people who had told me that I "needed" to go to the beach in order to make any good money.
That morning I was up with the birds and preparing to go. After two connecting busses, I got there in the late afternoon.
There was a festival going on in the ampetheter and the loud music spilled out into the streets, making it very difficult to set up anywhere and play. I hadn't made a penny by 8 pm. I was at the bus stop, ready to go back to Mandarin, almost broke, and feeling depression setting in, when I decided to go back and try again. It would mean missing the last bus out of the area and having to spend the night there.
I sat in front of a closed business which sold bathing suits and such and began to play. 30 bucks found their way into my guitar case in one hour as group after group of college kids on spring break walked past. Most of them dropped something in the case. I was playing my best 3 songs over and over, since each group only heard me for about 10 seconds.
Then, one of the bartenders from Campeche Bay, a restaurant/bar came out for a cigarette and listened to me while he smoked. He told me that he would give me a free beer if I went into Campeche Bay, which I did. Then, as the evening wound down, and I became more leary about carrying my guitar and a pocket-full of money around, I walked down the beach and found a spot in the dunes to sleep.
I had a hard time sleeping because the temperature went down to about 50 degrees. I had prepared by bringing extra sweatshirts, but they weren't enough. I anticipated the sunrise and the heat that it would bring. I was happy when my portable radio announced the time as 5am. Maybe I can get some sleep as soon as it warms up some...

Easter Sunrise

As soon as the sky brightened, I crawled over to the other side of the dune, to the side facing the ocean. I looked to my left and was surprised to notice a huge group of people on the beach, at 5:30 am. Then I realized that it was Easter Sunday (I had lost track of the days, because I originally wanted to come out to the beach on friday)
So, I wound up watching the sun rise on Easter Sunday morning, not even realizing that people flocked to the beach to do just that. I thought it was cool that I was led there by accident, there because I missed a bus!
Easter Sunday, I played for about 1 hour in the same spot. Then, one of the Jacksonville Beach cops stopped and told me to close my case up and leave. He said that they considered it "panhandling" if the musician opens his/her case up, as an invitation to tippers. I stood there and acted as if all of that was news to me. He ran my ID and then let me go. I picked up the 17 bucks or so that I had made in the hour, and left. The cop said "I've been sitting and listening to you play and your music is..." and he never finished the sentence, but he suggested that I go to a certain club where the owner is "a really nice guy" and see if I could play inside the place, legally. (because my music is....)
That is about it from the trip to the beach. It started out dismally and then wound up being a positive experience. Now I "need" to go to St. Augustine, according to the kid at the music store where I get my strings. He said that one of his friends saw me playing at the Regal Theatre, last week, before another cop made me leave there. It took me about 8 days to make the cost of the guitar back. It was slow, because I had to learn where the best spots are. Now I play at the BP station where I used to work. One of the old employees is still there, Dustin, and he lets me play and even brings out food and gave me an umbrella once. He said that "you do have a good sound," also. I estimate that I've made about 180 bucks off of the 100 dollar guitar, in about 2 weeks.

Last night, I went to the BP and noticed that Dustin's truck wasn't there. I wondered who was working and if they would let me play there. I was surprised to see that the foreigners who own the francise are none other than the same foreigners who own the one on the end of Baymeadows Road. A young guy, who I helped with his car battery once, came out and said that I could play wherever I wanted to, and on any Monday, which is his regular shift.
So things have been gradually improving as we prepare to march up the east coast, living on music.
One thing that I have realized, though, is that, even though it is possible to make more money as a street musician than as a laborer, and that it is better because you are doing something that you love, it still takes a lot of hours to make really good money. Each hour can be about 30 songs, and, by the end of the night, you might have played over 100 songs and the fingers are sore.
It is still work.
It isn't a free lunch at all.