Friday, April 24, 2015

80 Dollar Thursday

When I got into the Quarter yesterday at about 7:30 PM, my phone rang, and it was Johnny B., calling me from the Lilly Spot.
He had already had a conflict with Christina Friis, who had paid a guy to hold the St. Louis and Royal Street spot.
Johnny set up and began to play, over the mild protestations of the guy, who was to receive 20 dollars from Christina at the time of her arrival.
Johnny played, and made 45 dollars in the 2 hours before Christina arrived.
Christina arrived and, according to reports, refused to pay the guy the 20 dollars because he, technically, had not held the spot, as evidenced by the presence of Johnny B, singing and playing.
I don't know how the matter played out from that point on, but I know that Johnny headed straight for the Lilly spot, and then phoned me, out of courtesy, and not wanting to just set up and start playing by himself, on a spot which I am privileged to "own" in a way that no spot on Royal Street is "owned" except for any spot that Tanya and Dorise want to play.
"They're an exception," said Johnny. "When people come half way around the world hoping to hear you play, then, you can own a spot..."
I Realize How Good I Have It
I don't know about all that, but I think Johnny is starting to realize just how nice the Lilly spot is.
After all the other performers are gagged by the police, who enforce the 8 PM curfew, I am allowed to continue to play, even if I have to ring Lilly's doorbell and have her come out and explain to the nice officers why I am allowed to play, as per her discussions with the "quality of life," officials who work in some capacity here, etc.
The Lafitts Blacksmith Shop Tavern is the last stop for someone traversing Bourbon Street (there is nothing past it but residences) and, when they leave there, they are most likely returning to the hotel, knowing how much money they have left over after a night of debauchery, and thinking that I am probably the last busker that they will see, and likely to throw me the rest of the money which they had set aside for "street performers and the like."
It's kind of amusing how Johnny played until midnight on Royal street a few days ago, made 100 dollars, and then came to the Lilly spot, where we split about 35 bucks for just an additional half hour of playing.
Then, he showed up a bit earlier the next night, when it was extremely dead, but we split 15 dollars for about an hour of playing.
Then, last night, he was there before even I was, and we split 160 dollars after 4 hours of playing.
Right now, he is in my apartment, probably waiting for me to grab my stuff to head for the Lilly spot, so that he can join me.
Royal Street is hard work, sandwiched between the likes of Tanya and Dorise, and Christina Friis, and Brian Hudson, hoping to get a dollar or two out of each tourist.
The Lilly spot must seem like an oasis to him, where you have the undivided attention of the tourists, and where I have gotten plenty of 20 dollar tips, a couple of 50's and 100's and where one guy gave me 170 dollars, after sitting and talking and listening to some of my originals. That is unheard of, in the bustle of Royal Street.
I am almost worried about Johnny trying to take over the spot.
The other night, he arrived at the same time as Lilly and her daughters, having walked with them perhaps all the way from the Hotel Monteleone.
They exchanged some kind of words, with Lilly saying "I'll call you," at the end of it, then just briefly telling me that she and the girls were "tired," which I have come to understand is their way of saying that they had no time to talk and wanted to go into their house immediately.
I kind of probed a bit, asking Johnny "Is Lilly going to help you get a bus ticket to New York?" trying to fish for whatever the subject matter of their discussion might have been, out of idle curiosity.
"No, we didn't talk about much..." said Johnny.
I wouldn't have put it past him to have said something to her like: "That's a really excellent playing spot; I really like it there, and I'm sure you wouldn't mind having a clean cut guy with an excellent singing voice on your stoop every night. How did Daniel get the spot, and how can I persuade you to give it to me instead?"
I'm not naive enough to think that he gives me any special treatment over all the other street musicians whom he seems to hate collectively, and whom he claims superiority over (Tanya and Dorise totally suck, by the way) and whom he thinks have no claim on any playing spot, anywhere ("You can't sell this spot, or pay anyone to hold it; you don't own it; you aren't a real estate agent, you're a street musician...")
But, that being said, it is 5:49 PM, and almost time to think about busking on this Friday night. I can hear thunder outside, though....
I told him that, if we play a full 7 hours (7:30PM until 2:30 AM) then we could break my record of $213 for one night there.
Of course, we would have to split $426 in order for that to become official.
Last night, I let Johnny take the "lead" in deciding which songs to do at what times, etc. I even let him initiate the banter with the tourists, and it almost became a situation where it was Johnny B.'s spot, and I was just there backing him up.
That was fine with me. I was drinking and hadn't even noticed much tip money at all going in the jar. I didn't want to have to decide which songs to do, and was happy with whatever Johnny broke into.
We made 30 dollars by playing Hotel California, I was informed, at one point by Johnny, who, unlike myself was very aware of the tip jar and everything going into it.
Johnny had found a ride to New York on Craigs List, but the guy called this (Friday) morning, saying that he wanted to leave this afternoon, and not tomorrow, as originally planned, and so Johnny texted him with "Have a nice trip, good luck," or something and is still here.
He is on his 12th day of the 10 days allowed to guests of residents, and has motel money in his back pocket, in case he is turned away at the door upon returning here later tonight.
I can see a tendency for him to try to take over the Lilly spot and make it his. Lilly seems to like him a lot, seeing him as the clean cut guy whom he is, and it will be interesting to see what happens in the fall when he returns.
By then, I should be using the amplifier that he gave me, as a rent payment, to play at the spot on Royal Street that he will be vacating, before going to the Lilly Pad for a nightcap.
He told me that if I make it to New York, he will show me the ropes, and introduce me to "busking in Brooklyn."

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