Friday, May 31, 2013

Caseys IntheQuarter: Another Round

Thursday night, Tanya and Dorise were booked to play at Caseys from 8 untill 10 p.m.
It was 4 p.m. when I left the library after yesterdays post...
I had 3 hours to kill and to try to stay relatively sober.
I got a Hurricane Lager and then went by that bar where I learned the above.
Casey himself was there, and said "Nice Grateful Dead" to me as I was milling about.
Aparently he had recognized the chords from Eyes Of The World which became the aborted jam with Tanya, the previous week.

That started me thinking that, perhaps I could try to use the oportunities as a way to try to get them hooked on a Grateful Dead song, or two; it would be a "gas" to hear them play any number of them on the street. "Truckin'" would be right up their alley.

I had time to kill so I got another beer and went to my Bourbon Street spot and managed to come up with $5.50, in about a half hour; which is exactly the cost of the gin at Caseys.
I was planning upon telling her "I don't need you to buy me a drink, I just made enough for one," and I definitely was going to tell her that I didn't expect it. I didn't want to feel like that dog that follows you around after you feed it once.
I actually planned my initial conversation with her.
I would say "I can't wait to hear you play" (because I actually was in the mood to hear violin music).
And then: "By the way, I don't expect you to buy me a drink every time I come here."
And then: "Rob doesn't use the fiddle at all, it just stays in the case; I haven't heard him fiddle once!"
All this went basically as planned, when I encountered her on Decatur Street.
She saw me first; from across the street.
"Hey, Daniel, where are you going?" 
She was with another young lady, who turned out to be from Mexico; and a singer.
"I can't wait to hear you play," produced an uncomfortable smile and her trademark "wrinkling of scepticism" around her upper nose, which could have meant ...and buy you a drink, huh?
"You hear me play every day!"
"I've been too lazy to untangle my earbuds and haven't listened to music all day...except my own..."
The mention of Rob and the fiddle changed the subject, and she surprised me by asking "Do you want me to take it back from him?"
"No, I don't want to put you in that position; what's done is done. Besides, He'll be ready to sell it as soon as he runs out of cash..."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How Wednesday Ended

Last night, I went by Caseys and talked to the nice Dana, who was tending bar; and who asked me a short question.
The question was: "Gin?"
My answer was that; no, I had a cheap beer on one of the tables outside and I was just stopping by to see if Tanya and Dorise were playing that night.
They were not and I was almost relieved; because I had waited all day before having my first beer; the one which was getting warm on the table outside; and, I also felt that one more day of pondering what to play (should I be invited to) would be fortuitous.
And, so, I went and busked a bit and then pondered a lot....
I Play Horrendously
I went to Bourbon Street, after a second beer, and sat across from Barnaby's.
I began to run through the list of songs that I was considering doing at Caseys tonight.
None of them seemed to click. I was struggling to entertain even myself.
I was thinking of Tanya Huangs words.
I had told her a few nights prior that I needed to switch to playing violin.
"Why?" asked she.
"Because I'm not going to give anyone goosebumps with this thing; it's just not a 'goosebump' kind of instrument..."
"I've gotten goosebumps before," said Tanya.
But then added: "...from classical..."
"But, that was a nylon string guitar like Dorises,"
Seeming to see my point, she nodded.
For whatever it is worth; I have been trying to play the most violin-like melodies which I can conjure up, lately...

It had been that same evening, we remember,  that I crossed the river and found Rob, (one of the guys that I camp with) in possession of a violin. The goosebump instrument. One that "someone"  had given to him, he claimed; case and all. Brand new...
He had been very protective of the instrument that night, as we remember.

After playing pretty horribly on Bourbon, but managing to get a couple dollars thrown to me; and "miraculously" finding a full Hurricane drink sitting on the perch just to my left after finishing a song, I went in search of food, and more drink.
I somehow was miraculously handed food; ate it; and then I plopped myself down across from Harrahs Casino, in front of the Pinkberry Yogurt place on Canal. The last ferry was still about an hour away from embarking.
I was working on my song called: Hubert's Trip, not really paying attention to anyone walking past; but trying to put the song into order.
An elderly woman threw me a dollar; as if she knew that I was trying to put a song together and was struggling to do so...
My "Obsession."
Then, I caught that last ferry; feeling very insecure about my music; and even wondering if I was enjoying what I do.
I lay there and stayed awake for a while.
I asked myself what I was really hoping to gain from playing at Caseys the following (to) night...
What would have to happen for me to conclude that the evening was a huge success?
Was I hoping to give Tanya goosebumps?
Was I seeking her approval; or Dorises; just hoping that one or both would say "That sounded good," so that I could notch that acheivement into my guitar strap, and tell myself that I had attained "the next level" in my artistry?
Am I hoping that she will eventually feel that nothing could ever mean more to her than the scenario of her sitting in an auditorium, surrounded by other parents, as little Tanyita walks onto the stage; her violin looking more like a cello in perspective to the size of her 5 year old body; and Tanya feeling nervous and wishing she had made her practice the piece just one more time (to make 51).
And then hearing the first few notes of J.S. Bach emanate from the violin and feeling the air pressure in the auditorium drop with the collective gasp coming from everyone in unison.
And hearing the whispers: "She's the daughter of the great Tanya Huang..."
("...and she has her fathers flair for syle...look at that hat...") LOL
I decided that no, I'm not going to be there trying to woo Tanya.
I had been taken aback by how beautiful she looked in the soft light of the bar, a week ago; and was a bit smitten by her; (I had only seen her in daylight before) but in both of our best interests; I was sure I would be able to focus upon "higher" matters.
I can certainly find an attractive Chinese girl who would have a lot less to lose by "getting with" me...Tanya is just the second one that I have had the chance to meet in my life.
The first one made my blood boil (too); but was married and had 2 kids...
And no, I wouldn't be trying to give her goosebumps.
You could say that I have given up on that (until such a time that I am able to play her favorite classical piece on a nylon stringed guitar; a very expensive nylon stringed guitar...).
As far as seeking her approval, I admitted to myself that, sure, I would like to get a "you sounded good" out of her, at least once....
My Conclusion
I eventually came to the conclusion that I would focus upon entertaining the whole room in general; and Dana, the bartender, in particualar.
She seems like a cool person, I have gathered through our conversations; and I thought she would be a good person to direct my presentation towards. If Dana really likes my song then I am reasonably sure that the majority of the patrons will, too.
When I play on Bourbon Street, I often pretend that there is someone in the upper room of a certain house across the street, who has her window open and is laying back and listening; and is a big fan of The Grateful Dead...
I have spoken to Brian Hudson about this; and he too faces the problem of whom to sing to when there happens to be nobody there.
So, determined that I would do one of my best songs; as well as I could and try to entertain Dana, behind the bar; I drifted off to sleep....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Bum Suite?

Here it is Wednesday once again, and Tanya and Dorise may be playing again at Caseys In The Quarter tonight.
Or it might be tomorrow night.
There is some confusion there; because they started out playing Thursday nights but switched to Wednesday; or vice-versa.
I am staying sober; didn't smoke out this morning and haven't had a drink yet; it is 2 p.m.
I will walk by Caseys and ask them if the duo is playing tonight.
Amongst Brians Advice
If indeed they are; and if they invite me to jam; I will probably take Brian Hudsons advice and play a simple song; all the way from start to finish; with a minimum of ad-libbing and stick to the structure; so that Tanya can recongize a pattern and join in.
I Want 2 B On TV
I am hoping that someone will be shooting a video and that I can ask them (force them at gunpoint?) to upload it to Youtube.
People are always telling me that they will.
A guy last week showed me the pictures that he took of me while I was playing and promised to e-mail them; that was last week; no pictures have arrived.
I think the only way to get something done is to stand there and get the person to mail it to you right then and there; while you give them your address verbally and they type it in and hit "send" right in front of you...
What Song?
That being said; I am leaning towards either doing my "Carcass Song," which was a favorite of some people in Mobile, Alabama and which is simple (doesn't even have a "bridge" [yet]) and which has funny lyrics about dogs.
My friend from Mobile (Becca Griffin) is coming here in less than a month and will probably request the song, also, making it a good one to "bone up" on.
Excuse the Pun....
Or, I might consider doing part or all of my Bum Suite; the lyrics to which I have reclaimed from my e-mail inbox from the time I was mailing my lyrics to myself; to preserve them...
The Bum Suite
The Bum Suite in G

intro: G, B7, C, A7

No, I aint got nothing for bums

who sit in the park all day, on their thumbs
They've got life all planned out, they're just gonna stand out, with their hand out
Ain't it grand out the grand outdoors

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Haven't Blogged For Days (4 Days)...

Living The Dream
It is Tuesday; the day after Memorial Day.
I am going to have to abridge.
I was just too busy living the dream to stop and write about it...,
I have been making some money, recently; and I think the new better sounding guitar with the new strings and the new hat all factor into the equation.
Sunday night, I got to St. Louis and Royal streets just as Tanya Huang was packing up.
I Meet Balil
There was a well dressed older black man with a guitar and an amp who was ready to take the spot.
We started jamming together as Tanya rode off.
The song was "Big River," by Merle Haggard?
He was very complimentary of my guitar playing; and wound up giving me the 20 dollars which he had seeded "our" basket with. This was after asking me if I was homeless.
The Barbeque
Dibs On The Ribs

Before that, I had spent the afternoon at Brian Hudson, (and Amanda Zapps) house; where they were having a barbeque.
Good food; good conversation; but no music was performed; although there were other musicians there, notably, Christina Friis. I guess it was a barbeque and not a sing along....
Saturday, I made about 30 dollars the entire day, which began in the early afternoon and, between breaks, lasted until early Sunday morning.
I slept on the NOLA side of the river in the old spot where Sue (the Colombian lady) and I used to sleep. That put me right up the road from Brians house when I woke up late in the morning, and walked to the barbeque.
Rob And The Violin
Ron, (the surfer) who is one of the three who camp under the cedar trees on the Algiers side of the river, had a violin with him Friday night.
He said that someone had walked up; to him as he sat on a porch nearby where he was working on remodeling a house; and handed him the brand new thing in a brand new case.
I wanted to try to play it; but he seemed very reluctant to hand it to me; as if it were made out of fine crystal.
I asked him if I could borrow it for a day/.
I wanted to show it to Tanya; let her play it and assess it as far as its quality and playability etc.
Rob was hesitant and tried to change the subject.
I later found out that Rob had gotten the violin from Tanya and Dorise; after it was given to them by someone who asked them to pass it on to a child or someone who doesn't have an instrument.
I guess Rob was there at the right time and, after telling the duo that he was a "fiddle" player, they gave it to him, even though, when he played something on it; it became clear to Dorise that "he can't play it."
Now Rob is talking about selling the violin; after busking Saturday night with it and making no money.
Tanya and Dorise were mildly upset to hear that Rob was trying to sell something that he had convinced them that he wanted so badly.
The fact that Rob fabricated the story about where he had gotten it; was peculiar also.
Was he thinking that I was going to say: "Hey, they promised ME the next violin that they came across!!"?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Strike Out For The Mighty Caseys

Tanya And Dorise In Perfect Haromony In Thinking: "What the...?"
And So, the morning of the big day arrived and I woke up and sat under the stand of cedar trees; thinking that I would go across the river and walk the 3 miles to The Music Exchange to buy some new strings, saving a couple bucks for my efforts.
Then, it started to rain lightly.
I thought about the holes in my sneakers and the soaking wet socks which I would have to deal with; and I remembered Tanyas message of "Let me know if you need a ride to Guitar Center, or wherever..." and I considered messaging her on Facebook at this library.
Then, I thought that I would have to wait for a reply; not knowing how frequenly she checks that site, I wouldn't know how long to wait...
Then I considered that she might be in a position where it might inconvenience her to give me a ride; but that out of kindness, she might acquiesce, but then harbour regrets.
I Try To Remain Sober
I went across the river after making yesterdays post, and went to the Unique Boutique for a beer.
I was actually kind of nervous about the upcoming evening, not knowing exactly what to expect; and consumed a second beer, while telling that voice in my head to "shut up!"
The voice was saying things like: "Your going to be so plastered by 8 o' clock that you will walk into Caseys; trip and fall face-first on Tanyas violin and then puke on Dorises boots."
A third beer would drown that voice...
It is important to me that Tanya and Dorise (or anyone for that matter) at least respect me as an artist of some kind; and I couldn't help thinking how magical it could be if I was able to be entertaining at the minimum; that evening; and somehow show that musicians can be on par with each other; despite disparaging "talent" levels.
I've heard musicians play very complex and interesting music, and then lament to me: "I wish I could write a song; like you..." or classical musicians who play french horn with a symphony but have Willie Nelson in their CD, I was optimistic about being able to do something entertaining, which didn't have to be a showpiece of virtuosity....
Musings On Virtuosity
I often wonder what it would have been like; when I was 6; to have had a violin presented to me and to have been introduced to whom was going to be my teacher; and, possibly, to have been made to practice until such a point that I had mastered the lesson; before I could go and do what I wanted to do, like eat dinner.
I think I would learn all the necessary shortcuts to mastering a technical excersize; and I would probably come quickly to the realisation that abject repetition and focusing energy into a consorted effort (i.e. practicing hard) was the only real way to go.
I wonder what it would have been like to play for hours each evening when I was 7 or 8, or 9 and my bones were still growing and my brain developing...
I probably would have grown into a music producing creature; my body would have adapted to the load which I was putting on it each brain would have grown neuro synapses (or something that sounds equally valid) and I, in effect would be more like Tanya Huang.
Or maybe playing the violin would become my form of dissociation from the world; and I would only feel really comfortable while playing; and awkward otherwise...
But, myself, I have practiced away the same hours in the realm of thought and imagination (practicing in my head) and my goal for the evening was actually that we all could collaborate somehow; perhaps with myself inventing a song on the fly; and then Tanya and Dorise discovering that it was a lot of fun to join in on...

A Man That Can Tune
It was around this time that I ran into Brian Hudson; who was playing "American Tune," by Paul Simon, across the street from Rouses Market (in a bathrobe! -just kiddin' lol!)
"Hmm, I remember Dorise telling me that she would never play inside anywhere because none of them could pay her enough," he mused after I told him of my destination for that evening.
"I think one (or both) of them is a friend of the owner...the guy just came here from Orlando and is just starting up his business...what a 'shot in the arm' it must be to have Tanya and Dorise play there each week..."
I got to the club right around 8 p.m.
At first, I didn't recognize the place and was looking for the sign overhead, but then spotted Dorise inside.
The whole front of the place opens to the street, giving it a cavernous appearance; and they had moved some tables and things around to clear a stage area; where sat Tanya.
"How are you doing, Daniel, do you want a drink?"
...yes, that's why I didn't have another one on my way here...
Tanya bought me a glass of gin, which must have cost a fortune, as the choices I were given were all top shelf kind of stuff. I got the Beefeaters...
Then, they prepared to play.
They had a tip bucket (not basket) and a few of each of their CDs displayed near it.
Tanya actually spoke into the mike, welcoming all to Caseys; and stating that they would take requests. It was the first time I had ever heard her speak to an audience...
There were only a dozen or so patrons there on this Wednesday night; which is probably par for the course on that "slow" night.
It was strange, first of all, hearing "the quiet one" doing the talking; and strange second of all to see them playing to such a small crowd not seeing people drawn like moths to a flame, engulfing them, as they do on Royal Street.
There just weren't many people walking that stretch of Decatur Street; at the time, and they seem to be relying upon word of mouth to promote their gigs there.
Musically, it was interesting. They both played brilliantly and it was nice to hear them without the sounds of motorcycles starting and brass bands marching by...
They had a guest singer; a female who sang jazz; and who was just a great singer of the Ella Fitzgerald ilk; in my humble opinion. I need to get the names of these performers so I can give them credit...
At one point, Tanya seemed to be making eyes at someone who was behind me and to my right.
It took a Herculean effort for me to not turn to see whom it was she was smiling at.
Then, Dorise told me to go up and play.
She said that I could either sing, play her guitar with Tanya, or I could play my own guitar with both of them, or just Tanya; whatever.
I decided to tune to them during their next song by pressing my ear to the body of my guitar and grabbing the notes.
My hope was actually to jam on something with Dorise picking out the chords, myself possibly trading melodies (like she would play a run of notes and I would try to approximate them and vice-versa) with Tanya. and there would be a "musical conversation," if you will.
In a perfect world, that would have happened.
What happened was; I opted to play my guitar; which I had tuned during that last song.
Dorise sat out.
"Just do what you do," she said before walking off..
What I "do" is play without the benefit of a violinist. .
I began to play the 3 chord chorus from "Eyes Of The World," by the Grateful Dead.
I guess Grateful Dead music is as foreign to a Chinese classicaly trained violinist as it gets.
I broke away from chord playing to play a melody; and that is when things slowly fell apart.
I don't think she pulls music out of thin air like myself (nothing "random" about her approach); and we weren't pulling any. She stopped playing at one point, and just looked at me..
"We need to do something with more 'form' she said; as I was leaving for the ferry...
And that is how is stands.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In Case He's In The Quarter, He'll Be In Caseys In The Quarter

It is turning into a Tanya and Dorise kind of day.
They are playing at Caseys In The Quarter (shown) tonight at 8 and Tanya has told me both "You should come," and "I'll buy you a drink."
It has been lightly raining this morning and walking to the music store for new strings is going to soak my socks through the holes in my sneakers.
It would be a good time to message Tanya about a possible ride to Guitar Center, or maybe Music Exchange.
She has said "Let me know if you need a ride to Guitar Center or wherever..." but I wouldn't want to impose upon her unless she was going to one of those places anyways.

I might be invited to jam along tonight, and my current strings are sounding pretty dull and are hard to keep in tune.
Other than that; I have been taking the past couple days off from busking; except for an hour here and there.
Daniels Morning Routine
I am establishing a "routine" which entails doing excersises in the morning; including a mile and a half jog, interupted by a stop at the little store where I get a coffee energy drink; and then a good hour of practicing fundamentals (chords and scales).

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Money Is Freedom"

Yesterday, we left off with an account of the discussion about food which occured between myself, the banana eating Dorise, and the chicken and sushi and greens eating Tanya.
As I watched Tanya play, I realised that there was a good chance that she would burn every calorie which she consumed and then some and actually lose weight that day....
I wondered if Dorise was happy to see me accompany Tanya to the store; hoping that I would steer her towards more life-giving foods; and then was disappointed to see us return; both eating chicken...

Money Is Freedom
"Money is freedom," was the opinion of Hubert Borg, who is a good friend of mine; whom I met in college (will maybe have his own "profile page" when I get around to using those tabs above the blog window...
"If you have enough money; you can do whatever you feel like that particular day..." Hubert went on.
So, it being Tuesday; I have the freedom to blog; have already done my laundry; and it seems that the stars may be aligning for me to be able to attend the event of Tanya and Dorise playing at a place over by the French Market from 8 till 10 tomorrow evening. Tanya invited me.
I got 50 bucks wired to me from a good friend whom I met in High School yesterday.
As soon as I had hung up, after hearing him say that he would wire me money; my phone beeped and informed me that I was out of minutes.
I did my laundry today; as noted.
I was disappointed to see that the stains left on clothing by the splattering of a certain insect which is all over the cedar trees and all over the ground, in numbers that make it impossible to sit or lay anywhere without crushing a few of the staining things into your clothing; had not washed out.
But; that is how it stands.
I played a bit yesterday evening (even though I was a 50 dollar-aire) and maybe added 5 bucks to my wealth.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Too Much

(5,000)Pennies From Heaven
So, this is Monday; and yesterday evening ended with myself having a long-ish conversation with Ted Broughey, my best High School pal; and someone whom I can resume a conversation with; even if the conversation had been interupted for a period of years.
I was under the stand of cedar trees.
I had 4 dollars in my pocket; and this being at the end of the weekend; heading into the "slow" day of Monday.
Upcoming Pages
Ted will be featured in an upcoming venue which I propose to instill. Namely; all the "characters" who appear in the blog will have set aside under the heading of "pages" their own pages of bio-descriptive type things; as well as photos etc. and the pages will be my own personal "profile" of the character; and it should be fun....
I had managed to provide for myself in the way of food and drink and some tobacco.
Ted Comes Through
Ted called and during the conversation, his voice was just barely coming through.
He casually asked me if I had made any money that night.
I told him about the "about 8 dollars" which was about what I had made.
He said that he would wire me 50 dollars.
I thanked him and promised to call the next (to)day.
After I ended the call, my "government" phone beeped; -it was my own phone carrier texting that I was out of minutes "0 balance;" zilch. No more until June 11th.
So, now I have picked up the 50 dollars and have to consider using some of it to put minutes on the phone.
I have had a few long and very entertaining conversations with Ted; as well as a couple with my mom.
The two seeming to be in agreement that our country is turning into a "Socialist State."
Week In Review
The highlight of the week for me very well could have been the walk which I took with Tanya Huang on Saturday morning; from the corner where she and Dorise were setting up; to the Rouses Market; a quarter mile away.
Tanya claimed to be very hungry and couldn't seem to understand why "Maybe I'm hungry from yesterday..." and even offered to get me something to eat, and suggested I go along with her..
Dodging Paparazzi
She walked very fast; either being driven by hunger, or trying to avoid being accosted by tourists.
"It's Her!!!"
I would suspect a little of both; but more of the latter.
She had put on shades before setting out.
But, even in this disquise, which did nothing to disguise her beauty; she was set upon by at least 4 different tourists; who asked questions like "Are you the girl who plays the violin?" and "Where are you playing?"
It was kind of like walking with Jacqueline Onasis, I remember thinking; and I remember asking myself Why Jacqueline Onasis? Freudian? Maybe it was the shades.
Once inside Rouses Market; we were soon looking at chicken.
She remembered that I had wanted dark meat the first time that she bought me chicken.
I wasn't thinking about the temperature outside which had climbed to around 90 degrees already, and the way that chicken grease can seem to break you into a sweat and come out of your pores in the heat, otherwise, I might have gently suggested to her that there might be better foods to eat on such a hot day.
Eyes Bigger Than Stomach?
Tanya grabbed two of everything, chicken; sushi, greens, a drink (I had strongly suggested the greens; in order to help digest the chicken).
It was kind of amusing to see such a skinny girl trying to carry so much food; ...your breakfast should be no larger than an armload...
She told me to grab something to drink "anything you want."
"It's too early for beer," was her rejoinder to what I next said.
"We aren't really set up yet; we probably won't start for another 20 minutes," said Tanya to a couple from "around Houston," who seemed particularly eager to hear violin music.
"We bought your CD 2 years ago and we love it," said they.
Tanya wanted to eat her food, I was pretty sure, even though I'm a terrible reader of people. 
I had an idea that I would pretend to be their soundman and she and Dorise sat and chowed down while waiting for me to figure out why "we're not getting any 'signal'" or something; should the couple from around Houston follow us, thinking that she was going to pick up her violin and immediately play.
"Oh, they decided to go into that hat shop," said a visibly liberated Tanya. "How am I going to eat all this?"
"With chopsticks, miss Huang."
I joked about how comical a parody upon "the fickle tourist" it was to see the couple have all thoughts about the amazing virtuoso violinist pushed out of their heads upon espying a certain hat shop.
Love At First Bite
I sat down and began to devour the white meat before me.
I offered Dorise some of the chicken.
"I don't eat meat," she said.
"I used to not eat anything but fish a few times a week..."
"But then, you changed?" she asked, eying my chicken suspiciously; as if maybe Tanya had persuaded me to eat chicken.
"What about shellfish, scallops, things like that?"
"I don't eat ANY LIVING CREATURE," said Dorise with finality.
"....I was a fruitarian for a summer, back in '89..." I offered.
"How did that go?"
"It was OK until I decided to go to the gym and 'bulk up' then the bananas let me down....
After demonstrating that she was just as artistic with chopsticks as with a bow; the diminutive figure began to play; taking a position standing up in the shade; rather than sitting down in the sun....
"You're going to burn enough calories standing up to offset what you gained by moving into the shade..."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Count The Miles

Got this Broughey song stuck in my head now, "Next Door To Heaven."
The song (available in yesterdays post) is kind of like if U2 decided to cover a Pink Floyd Song, but got a very depressed David Cassidy to sing instead of Bono.
That being said, Ted is one of my most cherished friends; going back to High School; and as such I gave the song the extra opportunity to endear itself to me by playing it repeatedly through my little mp3 player, giving it every chance to grow on me, and it is stuck in my head now...
As I sit here at the library, Tanya and Dorise are out in the hot sun on Royal Street; "making bank," as the vernacular would have it.
I had about 17 people tip me as I played last night on Bourbon Street.
The new guitar sounds great; and it also paid off to have abondoned the 20 improvisations over the chords of a Grateful Dead song (chords which are only in my head) in favor of just good ol' Eagles songs like Tequila Sunrise and other good ol songs like that...
17 people showed their appreciation; but it was all for 17 dollars, as I got "singled."*
*I want to coin that phrase if it doesn't already exist: "Singled:" Earning just one dollar and only one dollar from every tipper on a given evening, so that the number of tippers can be determined by counting the number of dollars.
That was kind of a bummer in more than just the pecuniary aspect; it made me feel like I didn't really kick ass in my music; not even for 5 minutes out of the 2 hours that I played. There's a feeling you get when you really nail something; and I thought I played some cool stuff; but "the 20 dollar man," didn't show up.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Broughey On My Mp3

Free MP3 download: SEEDS-NEW TUNE.mp3
Free MP3 download: NEXT DOOR TO HEAVEN 1.mp3
My High School friend, Ted Broughey (whom I haven't seen in 25 years) has sent me the two songs above, which I guess he recorded in his apartment in Boston.
I will critique them in detail in the coming posts.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sing Me The Song "Curtis Lowe"

Saturday night, at the Bourbon Street spot, across from Barnaby's condo, a couple approached, and asked me to play Bob Dylan, while I was in the middle of playing something else...
They started to walk past, but stopped and the man repeated "Bob Dylan!"
I changed to "Like A Rolling Stone," and, after the few seconds that it took them to recognize the piece, they returned and listened to a few verses, while throwing a few dollars in my case.
Then, they told me that the song that they really wanted to hear, was "Curtis Lowe," by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the guy added that "I ALWAYS throw a tip whenever I hear someone playing that song..."
"I ALWAYS throw a tipe whenever I hear someone playing that song..."
I had heard the song before, especially when I lived in Jacksonville, Florida, the birthplace of Lynyrd Skynyr; but never tried to play it.
I hurriedly strummed an E major chord to put them into the key that I thought the song was in; and to make sure they wouldn't start singing it in the key of G sharp with myself trying to follow along.
As they sang, I managed to sound out the chords, so that by the third verse (when they chucked ol' Curtis in the clay) I had the harmony worked out, to include the "turnaround" (VI7) chord which is important because it is over this chord that we learn through the vocals that "them people all were fools."
They thanked me and said that they had had fun.
"Well, I learned a new song," I said, which seemed to please the guy (he changed the world, in his small way and will bring "Curtis Lowe" to the ears of new listeners and The People, in general, helping to keep it "alive").
I looked in my case to see the distinctive yellowish hue of a ten dollar bill, nestled next to my plastic piggie bank.
"Oh, thank you," I said; already stuffing the bill in my pocket to keep it from the-guy-who-grabs-money-out-of-your-case-and-runs-away-with-it.
I got about 15 bucks during that one song, making me think ...if I could just play 100 songs per day....
The rest of Saturday night went pretty much the same.
Upspringing And Outpouring
Sunday, as I have already posted, there was a magical upspringing and outpouring of generosity which took the form of free drinks and food and tobacco and money.
I knocked off at the curfew hour of about 8 p.m., thinking that I might return after the 
patrols rode through, and went towards Rouses Market where there was playing one of the "Old-Timey" bands across the street. The best one, in my opinion, called The High Rollers (left).
"People who don't like them call them 'Hillbilly bands," according to Paul, of Doreens Jazz Band.
Then, I spotted the distinctive aqua marine hue of Tanyas jacket out of the corner of my eye, disappearing into the store on the corner that the Old Timey band was playing in front of.
The aqua marine and dandilion-yellow clad figure with the flowing black hair had its back to me, but there could be no mistaking it to be none other than Tanya Huang.
She was sniffing tubes of something.
I went into the little store and stood a few feet away from her and began picking up random things and sniffing them; things with no fragrance, like ashtrays or salt shakers.
She held out two tubes for me to sniff, telling me that she had narrowed the fragrances down to those, out of the dozen or so tubes of whatever it was; which was to be her Mothers Day gift.
"Did you work tonight?" she asked.
"Yes, I did, and people actually gave me money!"
"And then you quit?" she asked, with a smile.
"Yeah, I played my best stuff; and then...well, I get lonely, I guess....It would be easier with a partner, to sit there all day; it would be like having a fishing buddy to sit in the boat with you for hours..."
"Yeah, I would hate to have to sit there all day by myself," agreed Tanya.
She seemed amused that I could earn my daily bread in a couple hours, and be done with it.
I guess we both make our "living" with our music.
Sometimes I play until enough people have told me that I sound good; and then; satisfied that I sound good; I quit playing.....
It's just that "a living" to her extends to having the means to buy tubes of fragrant lotions and potions on Mothers Day, and such.
If her hair wasn't so silky and shiny and her skin so smooth and succulent and redolent with her favorite fragrance with everything manicured and pedicured; she might deem that she wasn't making "a living" with her music, and would probably just play longer hours....
My requirements aren't quite so stringent.
She was going into Rouses Market and she asked me if I wanted anything.
"I actually got everything I need; someone gave me some jambalaya..."
"Do you want some chicken to go on top of it?"
She emerged with some baked chicken, which I put on top of the jambalaya and ate, along with the bottle of red wine which Barnaby had given me.
She seemed in a hurry to perhaps give her mother the gift, so I didn't invite her to sit with me on the sidewalk to eat chicken with our hands and pass the wine bottle back and forth while listening to the hillbilly band...

Monday, May 13, 2013

And, so it is Monday.
The weekend produced the effect of myself starting to at least make money playing.
Friday was dismal.
Sunday was magical, as I was given just about everything imaginable as I played on Bourbon Street.
There was a 10 dollar at least blunt in my case; jambalaya made by a guy who won the National Jambalaya Contest (or something), a pack of cigarettes; and so many drinks that I poured them all into an empty orange juice jug because they were all Huriicanes; a bottle of wine....and actual money, with a 10 dollar tip amongst it; and to cap the evening off, some baked chicken, from Tanya Huang.
But the best news is that the new guitar sounds great; and I am playing better because I am trying to catch up to Tanya and her ilk; and to play more scale tones in my solos.
I had been outlining the chords too much and not putting in the extra tones which can sound cool...
out of time

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's All Connected

What Becomes Of The 94 Dollar Tip
"Don't F*** Me!!"
When we last left Daniel, he had just gotten a 94 dollar tip from a guy who came across as his "Cousin Vinnie," who described the tip as an investment which he was making in Daniels music, and made it clear to him that, although he was a very nice guy; nobody f*** him over without "repercussions."
Understanding the mans concerns, Daniel continued to play, after the man walked off.
Part of him was thinking that it would not look good to Vinnie, if he were to pack up right away and leave the spot (can't wait to hit that crack pipe...) and another part was actually in the mood to play more music.
Axiom In Action
Daniel had been making a concerted effort to improve his playing technique over the past month or so; which involved his going back to the basics of practicing scales and keeping with his Buskers Axiom #1:
"Seek ye first to sound good; and all other things will be added unto you."
He played with an ease which sprung from the knowledge that he now had a nice hat; was looking forward to getting amplified; and had enough money in his pocket to alleviate his concern over weather or not the tourists were going to throw him anything.
As a result, he switched to some music which he hadn't done in a while; and wound up stuffing some more bills to the ones in his pocket.
A Stripper Shows Herself
Before going to the Bourbon Street spot, Daniel was walking down Royal Street and was mildly surprised to see that the Christina and Brian Duo was not on the corner of Saint Louis Street.
Seeing that the business was still open, there wouldn't be anyone playing right in the doorway, but it wouldn't be unusual to see someone off to the side a bit; playing there and waiting to move into the doorway later.
He sat down and took the spot; hat on head and pretty much flat broke (this was a prelude to the 94 dollar tip).
"Play Some Dylan!!"

A young lady approach and, kneeling down next to Daniel, said: "Play something awesome! Play some Bob Dylan!"
She showed Daniel what she was carrying in a paper bag.
"I got these as a gift from work..."
And then ministered to Daniels perplexion, which must have showed on his face, by enlightening him with the addition of "They're dildos."
Daniel thought that they looked pretty space aged.
"...Babe, You're Bound To Fall..."
Daniel played "Like A Rolling Stone," by Bob Dylan, and the young ladys face lit up and she sang along.
After every other verse or so, Daniel felt compelled to stop and to explain the meaning to the girl.
In the back of his mind, he was forming an opinion that the girl might be living the part of the girl in the song who ...Once upon a time, looked so fine, threw the bums a dime (hey, that's Daniel in this instance!) in her prime...
The girl seemed eager to learn the undercurrents of meaning in the song.
It was Daniels way of being "fatherly" (since he was easily twice the girls age) and cautioning her through the song and its moral about what can happen to a girl that looks fine and is in her prime; but then falls.
She was soon on her way, after stuffing a wad of singles into Daniels backpack; (Daniel thought he counted 8 of them, but wasn't sure; having mixed them with other bills which were forthcoming) but not before ruminating out loud that she had always thought "Napolean in rags" (from the song) was a heroin dealer.
"No, he's actually a pimp, dear (hence the off color "language" that he used)."
Daniel thanked her; and recieved the answer "I strip for a living," to his inquiry as to exactly where on Bourbon Street she worked that gave employees dildos as gifts.
Baby Sitting
Then, enriched by what was probably 8 dollars, Daniel continued to play; and was hopeful that he was playing well at the time when up rode Christina Friis on a bicycle.
There was a look of innocent curiosity on her face, as if she wanted to ask a question but wanted to phrase it delicately. ....Umm, are you taking this spot for the night...If so, it's OK....
There was no vibe which Daniel could feel, which would make him think she was about to say something like: "What's the big idea; you know we like to play here; and it's a Friday night; and you yourself said you don't like to play Royal Street because you're not loud enough; I thought we were friends!" like similar exchanges that Daniel had heard exchanged between other famous street performers, whom will not be mentioned here.
This led Daniel to an interesting observation about about people in general, and Christina in particular.
"There are people who act very nicely towards others; despite the malicious thoughts that they are keeping at bay; and there are other people who act very nicely towards others; because of the nice thoughts that they have... "  -Daniel
Daniel concluded that Christina is the later, as is Brian to an extent; and that would probably the best way to explain the charisma which she and their group exudes...and what comes through in their music (and; because of the theme of this blog; it must be noted -in their tip basket, too).
It seemed like she might have been wanting the spot but was trying to find the right way to ask ("How long are you gonna be here?"?).
Daniels dual purpose in sitting there was to see if he could make any money there (with the addition of the hat) and to hold the spot for them, should they just be running late.
So, before Christina opened her mouth, he said: "I'm holding the spot," meaning, for them; but a little ambiguous.
I slight look of concern creased her brow. "You're holding it for somebody?"
"For you guys, if you showed up; I figured you might be running late; I was surprised not to see you here on a Friday night..."
She rode off to retrieve Brian; and they were soon setting their stage up; while Daniel continued to play; and in doing so; demonstrated to them how a guy playing unplugged on Royal Street struggles to make a dime (unless he catches a stripper at the right moment).
The duo threw Daniel 3 dollars after he finished one of his songs; Daniel thinks it may have been one of his originals; but he can't remember now....he thought that it was a nice way of saying "One from each of us; plus two halves that we glued together into a third..." Daniels mind often works that way.
Then, before he left, Brian handed him two more 5 dollar bills, saying "Thanks for spot holding."
Thus, after going from rags to 21 dollars, Daniel made his way towards his rendezvous with the 94 dollar tip; by way of Rouses Market, where he treated himself to a 24 oz. Strawberry Lime-A-Rita.*
*This is the same beverage which had had spent 45 days in the East Baton Rouge Prison for just admitting to the police that he had indeed drunk. He figured that the drink owed him...
Post Tip Stress Syndrome
It was with pockets stuffed with about $135 that Daniel finally left the Bourbon Street spot, 45 minutes past curfew time; and meandered towards Rouses Market, where he ran into Tanya and Dorise, who were packing up for the night.
"This guy came and gave me a big tip, but he warned me that if he walked up on me and I still had the same equipment, he was going to hit me in the face. And, 'it won't be pretty' he said." I said to Dorise.
Tanya was nearby, rolling up a cable, and at the words "hit me in the face," she looked up, and asked "What happened?"
Daniel repeated what he had told Dorise.
"I need to get like amplified or something..." he added.
"How much did he give you," asked Tanya.
"It was actually 94 bucks."
"So, basically a hundred dollar tip..." she mused, with no trace of amazement in her voice ...we get them all the time...
Daniel outlined his options for disbursing the tip, not limited to:
"A little 'cube' amp."
"Do you need a ride to the store to get it? On a day when I'm not working?" asked Tanya.
"Well, of course, then I would need a pickup for the guitar and a cable to plug it into the amp; and then I still wouldn't have my vocals amplified," lamented Daniel, but then had another thought.
"I could get the amp and a cheap microphone to go with it and both play and sing into the mic."
But then he thought better of that: "But it would be a really cheap microphone; given the money I would have left over...and I don't want to sound like a robot"
"I have a microphone that you could use," said the ever helpful, resourceful, effecient and diminutive Chinese violinist...
And so it was that Daniel went back across the river; planning to rise early and go to the music store for a cube amp....
A Wild Goose Chase
Sunday morning Daniel was up with the birds.
He started upon a route which would take him down Royal Street, where he hoped to run into Paul from Doreens Jazz Band. He would ask Pauls advice about how best to invest the tip money and avoid "complications" with Uncle Vinnie.
Unfortuantely, they were not to be seen along that street, as far as Rouses Market.
"They're playing Jazzfest," he was informed by the The Brooding Black Man Who Plays A Fender Acoustic Guitar, and who was holding the spot for Tanya and Dorise.
He then informed Daniel that The Guitar Center had for sale a combination of an acoustic guitar and a case as well as a small amplifier; all for 79 dollars.
But then, he gave Daniel erroneos directions for how to get to that particular store.
Daniel spent most of the day taking the street car to the end of its line and then trying to find where the "E3" (which is the bus that the brooding man told him to catch) stopped.
There was no "E3"
Another person at the bus stop gave him further erroneous directions and he was soon well out of New Orleans and into the city of Metarie, where there was no Guitar Center.
After paying more bus fare, he was dropped off near the Quarter and walked into town where he again encountered Tanya and Dorise playing by Rouses Market...
"I went on a wild goose chase," he said to Dorise.
"I wouldn't worry about that guy," she said, already anticipating Daniels foreboding about Cousin Vinnie.
The Arrival Of A Rival?
There is a young man who sometimes plays a weird percussion instrument with Tanya and Dorise.
The instrument looks like a wooden box, but can produce percussion sounds.
He was playing this thing along with the duo, and Daniel sat down to listen; and to drink Lime-A-Rita; resolving to either try to go back to The Guitar Center the next day; or to maybe try Webbs Bywater Music in the opposite direction.
Maybe it was a blessing in disguise to be mis-led, he thought. Maybe the combination of the guitar and case and amp for such a low price would have given me frustratingly cheap renditions of each.
He decided that he would talk to Paul at Webbs Bywater; a person whom he had heard described as a nice guy who bends over backwards to help the street musicians (i.e. has inexpensive stuff); and try to put the 94 dollar tip to the best use.
Little did he know that he would be helped with his decision through the agency of Tanya and the aforementioned young man who plays the weird percussion instrument.
By the time T&D ended their night, Daniel had finished his second 24 oz. Lime-A-Rita and was barely keeping his eyes open.
The Guy That Plays The Cajon Drum
It was at this point that the young percussionist turned to him and said: "I've never heard you play before, do you want to jam?"
And it was in this state of intoxication that Daniel said "Sure," and wrestled the Jasmine Guitar out of its ragged case and tried to jam along with the percussionist and his wooden box.
He began to play the rif for "The Music Never Stopped," by The Grateful Dead, and was instantly missing notes or missing strings entirely before attempting a solo over the changes, which produced more sloppy sounds.
He was aware that Tanya (violin virtuoso) was in and out of earshot as she volleyed between the van and the equipment which was strewn about the two jammers, and that she hadn't really ever heard him play; and the stabbing feeling of embarrassment was enough to permeate the Lime-A-Rita haze; and he decided to just stop; as a means of damage control; cut your losses and run, type of thing...
"I'm sorry, that last Lime-A-Rita really wiped me out, I can't even play..." said Daniel as he stopped abruptly and began to put his guitar back into the raggedy case. "I wasn't expecting to play tonight." I've got a big excursion planned for early morning...
A Curious Thing
Then, the young man did a curious thing.
He walked over and intercepted Tanya on her way to grab more equipment and playfully kissed her on the cheek and maybe murmered something to her.

... figured the mere thought of motherhood repulsed her...
 Daniel felt some slight pangs of jeolousy which hadn't been visited upon him since he was 19 years old and lost a girl whom he was sweet upon to a rival who blatantly employed similar tactics...
I guess sometimes you aren't aware of your true feelings until a playful kiss exposes them....I thought that she might have no desire for a relationship; or that she was a lesbian; or that her family forbade her to marry anyone except a Chinese doctor; or that music has entirely supplanted her sex drive, or....
But, was it a tactic?
Had the percussionist seen that Daniel could barely keep his eyes open and seized the opportunity to try to make him look (sound) bad?
The Second Blessing
Daniel lay under the bushes that night; with the embers of the jealous feeling still glowing in his stomach; but was able to comfort himself by thinking of certain realities.
He saw Dorises face hovering before him saying; "Don't worry about that. He's just a good friend of ours and we probably wouldn't hang out with him if he was like that. He hadn't seen her in months.
You were just too drunk to play; it happens. You'll get 'em next time...and, as far as Tanya goes; you're not going to impress her even if you play Bachs Brandenburg Concertos with your feet; sbe likes you for your humor anyways; and do you know how many guys have come along and tried to amaze her with whatever they just aint' happening; relax...she is more likely to resent a guy who would play a game like that; even if that were the case..."
The Reason It Happened
He calmed down and fell asleep; telling himself as he drifted off that "there is a reason everything happens" and he would just have to wait for the next opportunity to say "Hey, let's finish that jam we started, now that I'm sober..." and it was as that image congealed in his mind (like a jello shot) that he had a revelation as to how to invest the 94 dollar tip.
He wouldn't try to amplify the Jasmine, which is on its last legs, even though more volume would equal more money. On an artistic level that wouldn't do.
"I Forgot About That One..."
He needed to play better and to sound better; and that would involve getting a new guitar...
He walked (to punish himself for drinking too much and embarassing himself in front of Tanya; even though that had led to the revelation that a new guitar was the way to go) all the way to Webbs Bywater Music store on Monday morning, where Paul, who was suffering "I'm sick as a dog, dude, I think I'm going to close and go home in a few minutes" initially said "All my used stuff is $299 and up."
"What about that Yamaha," asked Daniel, spotting one. "Is that the one that is $299?"
"Oh, I forgot about that," returned Paul. "That one, I could let go for $75. It had a cracked neck, but I fixed it and it is as good as new; in fact...."
And so, after a bit of haggling; Daniel left the store with a Yamaha F310 guitar (just like the one that his mother bought for him in 2006 to kick off his busking career after everything else slumped) and a new case for it, $80 lighter in the pocket. 
Stopping on Royal Street, he was congratulated on his purchase by Dorise, who said that she liked the neck.
It's All Connected
Daniel couldn't help connecting the cosmic dots between the gift he sent to his mother which arrived on her birthday; and then the phone call to her; when he heard about the troubles that the family was having, including a heart attack suffered by his brother; and then decided NOT to ask her for money; and then the received gift of the hat; and then the man (who looked a lot like his brother) who gave the 94 dollar tip and then the accidents which led him to the music store a few minutes before the guy was going to close; where the same kind of guitar which my mother once bought for me happened to be waiting; and the fact that Dorise liked the neck on it; and that one of the things that attracts me to Chinese girls is their necks.....It is all connected; somehow; thought Daniel...