Tuesday, January 26, 2016

E Flat Major

It's 4:30 in the morning, Tuesday, the 26th of January, 2016.

Posting From Starbucks

I played for about 2 hours last night, making 29 bucks; with a 20 dollar bill winding up in the jar.


Before going out, I had tested the new harmonica that I had bought Sunday evening, after Howard and I had watched the Patriots lose their playoff game against the Denver Broncos at what has become our traditional spot for watching playoff games involving the Denver Broncos (Howard calls Boulder, CO. his "place of origin") and Superbowls.


Howard had smuggled in chips and salsa, so that he wouldn't have to spend any money in there; even though he has recently inherited almost 100 thousand dollars. Last year, he smuggled in a bottle of tequila, so that we wouldn't have to pay 7 dollars for Felipe's famous margaritas.

I was working upon my 21st day sober and was glad to see that Howard had opted not to drink.


I have to admire him for sticking to his principles, and for not having become extravagant in his spending.

I never pried, but have always suspected that, even when the two of us were sleeping behind an abandoned building in Baton Rouge; that he had a good amount of money tucked away, somewhere. 

What I had gleaned from our conversations was that he was planning upon bequeathing his daughter money; and wanted to maximize the eventual amount by making sacrifices, such as living homeless upon Cheetoz and Pepsi and fast food specials.


During the game, he told me that he had sent his daughter 10 thousand bucks, and hadn't even gotten a thank you. I guess a parent's love is unconditional.


I had made 47 bucks Saturday night, in about 2 and a half hours, even though one note on my harmonica had to be avoided.


After I had bought food (my food stamp card is toast already for the next 9 days) and taken the trolley into town, where I bought an energy drink, and tipped the waitress 2 dollars who would have worked Howard and I's table, had we ordered anything; I decided to get a cheap harmonica, a Hohner "Ol' Standby," which was $14.11 out the door.


A test of it this morning showed it to be of unacceptable quality. Either I got a bad one, or I have become a better and more picky harmonica player, but I decided that I will return the thing for a refund, and then add about 10 bucks to that refund and get another "Blues Bender," by Hohner.


The first one that I got was noticeably better than the 10 dollar "New Orleans Special" harps that I had been using. It is a 20 dollar harp.


I was telling Tim, my caseworker, after he had made the comment that I seemed to be spending a lot of money on harmonicas; that, the reason was that the sub 20 dollar instruments that have been my mainstay just don't last much more than 5 or 6 weeks of being played almost nightly.


I told him that a Marine Band ($50) harp would probably last me 8 months.


I had stepped outside to retrieve Harold, my cat, when up walked another resident of Sacred Heart apartments, who asked: "You play harmonicas, don't you?


"Yeah..."


He told me that he had a couple harmonicas and asked me if I wanted them.


"Sure," I said. What did I have to lose by taking them, sight unseen. Maybe they would be cheap and/or old and out of tune, but maybe they would be playable. I was intrigued, wondering what key they could possibly be in.


He went into the building while I held his dog on a leash, and emerged to give me no less than a Marine Band harmonica. It was in the key of E-flat.


This is a "horn" key, and I imagine that the original owner, who evidently hadn't played it much, must have jammed in some kind of horn band.


The second "harmonica," turned out to be a pitch pipe (but a good pitch pipe).


I was thinking that I should offer him something for the 50 dollar Marine Band harp, when he spoke up and said that, although he would normally have just given them to me, he was in need of 5 dollars "before Wednesday."


I had 7 bucks on me, left over from Saturday night's 47 dollar take, and the subsequent purchase of the 10 dollar harp, the food, etc. I told him that I would slide the money under his door after I had played tonight.


I spent 11 bucks on food, but got enough to eat for a couple days.


It is forecast to be much colder tommorow (Tuesday) night, but I will still go out and play.


It was very slow, tourist-wise tonight, but the 20 dollar tip most likely came during a solo on the Marine Band harp in the key of E-flat.


I tuned my whole guitar down one half step so that I can play it as if it is in the key of E major instead of E flat. This made available a lot more of my repertoir. Songs such as:


"Candle In The Wind," (Elton John)


"Do You Want To Know A Secret?" (Beatles)


"You Don't Know How It Feels," (Tom Petty)


And the pleasant surprise of discovering that "Scarlet Begonias" and "Aiko, Aiko," both performed by the


Gratful Dead fit hand in glove with the key of the harp.


After almost a year of playing in the same 4 keys, I was in a totally different one; the seldom heard key of E flat major.


I now go to slide 6 dollars under the door of the guy who gave me the harmonica, and who lives in A310. I thought, on my way out, that if I had a great night and made a hundred bucks, I would double up his asking price and slide 10 bucks under his door, but since I made 29 bucks, I think 6 is about right.


You've just read: 841 words.

1 comment:

  1. Man I don't know keys from a sneeze. But yeah e flat that's the same as an Alto sax.

    You want to look at hohner special-20s, those are a marine band with a plastic comb, and a performing standard. It sounds like, if you are getting 8 weeks out of a barp, you're doing OK. The things just wear out like guitar strings do. You can also try Lee oskar harps, some swear by them. They have stainless steel reeds and you can order the Reed sets alone, to save money.

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