Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saturday In The Dark

 4 Years Ago, Today
I was in Ocala, Florida, and sang with a gospel choir in which I was the only caucasian; Karrie was in the midst of spending 47 days in jail in Saint Augustine; and I was playing the off ramp and sending her money, here and there....
  • 20 Dollar Setback
  • Capo Replaced
  • Brass Band Sets Up On Me
I Haven't Put The Chip On Black Yet...

My exodus from under the dock came at around noon.
73 dollars were in my pocket, and I headed in the direction of The French Market, where a dealer in things musical has a table set up regularly.
He carries harmonicas, from a 5 dollar toy, up to 50 dollar Lee Oskars and Hohner Marine Bands, and harps in "natural minor" keys, also 50 bucks.
A couple blocks up the street is the new location of The Louisiana Music Factory, which carries Hohner Ol' Standby harps for 12 dollars, which is less than the guy at the French Market charges. The market guy is the one with the 5 dollar guitar strings which "suck, but they're only 5 bucks."
I had my mind set on getting a harmonica in the key of B, and then dropping my guitar down one half step so that I could play as if in the familiar key of C, but would be sounding one half step lower, giving songs that everyone has heard a million times a slight wrinkle; and giving me that much more room to hit the high notes vocally. But it wasn't to "Be."
He didn't have any harps in the key of B.
I needed to think.
Did I want to replace a key which I already had; or to get a new and different key?
I decided to get a capo instead ($10); which would allow me to put all the harps that I own through the paces by moving the capo around; and then I would decide upon which harp to get.
5 Dollar Saturday
I had forgotten to get batteries for my spotlight.
I pondered making a run to get some; but decided to move further down towards the forbidden zone, closer to the spotlight which I used to play directly under but which has been declared a no busking zone by the lawyer guy whose condo it sits in front of.
A loud brass band began to play in front of Lafitts Blacksmith Shop Tavern; and persisted until the point that I tuned to their B flat and jammed along; audible to anyone within about 15 feet or closer.
I actually had 5 dollars thrown to me by those who leaned their ear in and heard that I was pretty much in sync with the horn tooters up the street. They were a little bit "tonally challenged" and came close to falling apart in a few spots, but these spots were when the sum of us sounded like a Grateful Dead space jam...
I Still Have The Chip
So, this morning, I made the minimum deposit to the "3%" jar, and now I ponder getting batteries for the spotlight. And then making new signs, as mine have become tattered, and then maybe getting to the Lilly spot before I even have to use the spotlight, as in pretty soon....
Or maybe spending myself down to under 40 dollars with the purchase of a brand new Hohner "New Orleans Special" harp in the key of C...I can work it with the capo...
If things get too bad, I will go out in the morning and play guitar and harp at the off-ramp near The Rebuild Center where there is usually someone (sitting) there holding a "hungry" sign in between running to the center for the free meals, of course.
I Might Just Hit The Highway
This has always been a good formula for me, as people have said "At least you're doing something," as they handed me an average of 35 bucks per least that is how it worked in Jacksonville and Saint Augustine, Florida.


alex carter said...

Those harp prices are $10 over full retail and more like $15+ over what they sell 'em for here in San Jose, but then I guess that makes sense because everyone's broke out here.

I found some real NOLA food and a couple'a NOLA natives to talk to out here yesterday. I already knew I liked crawfish, I used to catch them when I was a teenager, and baignets kick ass it turns out. The NOLA dudes said for sure I'd do well out there with a trumpet.

If I ever get out there, the idea would be to have travel paid for, and enough to stay in one of those by-the-week places I've seen on Craig's List. Then go out and play and see how I do. I don't see this happening for at least another year since I have to establish my street playing skills here. Electronics and hi-tech in general pay SHIT, and God knows, if I had a knack for guitar I'd be playing one. But trumpet uses less strings and so far I've not lost a pick so there's that.

I should try setting up a blog, notice the new email without the word "banjo" in it..... since I'm only online about 1X a week I'll just have to save up posts and post a week's worth once a week. Because it's sooooooo hi-tech here ..... in fact I think "peak tech" was in about 2003, and right now, being 2014, it's like being in 1994.

alex carter said...

Since you can be homeless just about anywhere, why not travel north when it's hot down there in NOLA, and sponge off of people you know for a place to stay up there as you mentioned? When they're all tired of you, go back to NOLA for the winter. Makes sense.

I used to be a big proponent of your moving out here in California since you're a whiny white guy with a guitar who plays whiny white guy music like "I'll be grateful when they're dead" as I call 'em. It would be a real fit. But, the problem is, out here, you'd likely never have a chance to become non-homeless because the housing prices are so high. And I honestly don't know if your "hats" would be any better out here. Whereas, you have the Kool Kids coming to *you* with their money there, and I think you are making enough to get some kind of a living space.

The Internet's horrible here and today it's even worse than it generally is, which means pretty marginally useful. Best to have a way of living that does not depend on it.

Daniel McKenna said...

First of all you spelled beignets wrong, (and I think they are a lot of grease and sugar) but I can't spell it either and working on your skills there is like training to be an Olympic swimmer in a plastic pool; come to the river!! LOL
And, having travel and accommodations covered will give you one less reason to "play for your life" but one mans positive stress is another mans nervous breakdown; Yeah, it seems like you have too many lumberjacks and not enough forest in the electronics game; I should have seen it coming when I attended a school (in '82) which was cranking out "electronic technicians" like toy soldiers lined up on a conveyor belt LOL

Daniel McKenna said...

OH, and according to Leslie the guy at Music Exchange will come down to 35 bucks on a Marine Band; but maybe Leslie is a better haggler than I...

alex carter said...

35 buckaroos is OK for a marine band... get a special 20 which has a plastic (better) comb.

I dunno ... there's some things I'd have to streighten out before I'd consider moving there.... truth is, I can live awfully cheap out here, and while there are "openings" for like 1000 musicians out here, hardly anyone has the brass balls to get out and play on the st.

LOL love the toy soldiers observation, I'd call it dead on. I think more like, I was so poor growing up and as a young adult, that I was scared to death to do what I was really interested in, which frankly was music although with a keyboard emphasis at that time, and went into 'tronics because it was supposed to be a sure thing.

Fine: I'll call the fuckers ben-yays from here on out, and I actually like 'em, once most of the powdered sugar is knocked off. Taste like "one ton" brand won ton pi chips, an old favorite back home.