Thursday, October 6, 2016

I Back Up Blog

Last night, I got on my bike, thinking that I would arrive at the Lilly Pad by about 11:15 PM, and on a Wednesday night.
I had zero expectations of making any money, but was conjuring up memories of the times when I had struck it lucky and had had a 50 or 100+ dollar tip thrown to me on such a night, when there were hardly any other tourists out, outside of the one who sat down and chatted and listened; then was moved to leave me a large tip.
This blog certainly covered those events, as they were the most apropos of the theme of it.
So, I told myself that I was just out for a leisurely ride on the bike into the French Quarter, where I would stop at the market and perhaps pick up some food, and, along the way would sit at the Lilly Pad and amuse myself by playing some music.
I was pretty upbeat, and sober; I hadn't even pulled any leaves off my plant to smoke.
I got to the Lilly Pad and looked up and down Bourbon Street to see that there were gaggles of tourists milling about; it wasn't a complete ghost town.
There was an older black man sitting on Lilly's other stoop, cradling a large stuffed animal in his arms and skeezing tourists.
As I set up and began to tentatively play, I realized that the energy and motivation might be hard to come by.
The guy on the other stoop began to speak, and, as there was nobody but myself within earshot, I thought that his querulous tones might be directed at myself.
I couldn't make out what he was saying to the stuffed animal or myself, but imagined that it was that he wasn't in the mood for hearing me play.
I started to agree with him.
The new harp in the key of A has limited my repertoire to an even smaller sample of songs than I had with the key of C harp.
Repertoire has always been a thorn in my side, as my insistence upon polishing songs up and refraining from playing ones that I hadn't worked out some kind of arrangement for, has limited my set list.
This has been a liability as, the people walking past in many cases only have to recognize a song in order to appreciate it, or they are focusing upon the singing, and any old accompaniment would do, as if the person were singing to music which is coming from off stage "somewhere."
One pretty successful busker who just strums can blaze through a whole catalogue of "favorites," singing the familiar choruses and strumming a minimal accompaniment on an acoustic guitar.
He plays "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynyrd Skynyrd, for example, without the instantly recognizable "fancy picking" that starts the Skynyrd version (a "classic riff") and without all the other little trills in between verses.
He probably does just as well tip-wise with the song as myself, who tries to play all of those notes, due to the fact that the words and melody to the song are also instantly recognizable; the "Sweet home Alabama" part, that people, especially those from the neighboring state, can sing along with.
Playing the riffs might garner a tip from people who think: "This guy is good on guitar," but the strumming and singing guy will get them from people who think: "This is a good song."
I realize this, and also know that the latter guy is able to ramble through 50 such "favorites" in a couple hours, not sweating the details, and at least keep things interesting that way.
Myself, I began to play one of the already tired feeling handful of songs that I know in the key of A (or E blues) and felt of one mind with the skeezer on the other stoop. "I'm not in the mood to hear this s**t, either!" I yelled over to him.
It is just that I had put so much energy into them the night before.
It reminded me of a bootleg tape of the Grateful Dead that I've heard, where one guy in the crowd keeps yelling: "Saint Steven!!" in between songs until Jerry Garcia leans into the microphone and say's: "Look, we played "Saint Steven" last night; we might play it again tomorrow night; it's on two fine albums; but there is no way in hell we're gonna play it tonight!"
And that is the way that I felt about all half dozen or so songs that I have been doing with the new harp.
I messed around with one of my originals; a couple people threw me a dollar each, and then some music started blaring from nearby.
I thought that it was coming from one of the pedicab drivers who was sitting in front of the bar, as a lot of them have sound systems attached to their cabs, but it wasn't.
It was coming from the balcony of an apartment which had been rented, most likely, short term, through the airbnb.com website or a similar one. These are one of the banes of Lilly's existence. She has told me that, should anyone from the house next to hers ever come out and complain about my playing, to mention to them that they are renting illegally and if they want to push the matter of my busking near their place, then to threaten them with the wrath of Lilly that way.
My only problem with the short term renters is that they probably feel like they can crank the stereo as loud as they want from the balcony without worrying about having to live with the consequences from whatever nearby residents they might disturb; and that was what was happening.
A few more groups of tourists walked past me after I had given up on trying to play. When the pedicabs crank their music from in front of the bar, I only have to endure it until they get a fare and take off, and they generally are playing better music that what was coming from the balcony -music that is New Orleans related and thus familiar to me, allowing me to play right along with it, and garner tips that way; from people walking past the bar who hear the song fade from the pedicab while it increases from my spot.
The people on the balcony were cranking the music of Beyonce, which I just couldn't bring myself to try to pick along with.
I dislike Beyonce's voice very much. I think she sounds like someone is pinching her nostrils closed as she sings; and then sending that tone through whatever pitch correcting electronics she uses to make her sound as "perfect"(?) as she looks. Plus, I have nightmares about being attacked by Sasquatch, Venus Williams or her in a dark place, and in the dream I can't run.
Rather than call Lilly to try to have the balcony quieted, I decided to keep that ace up my sleeve for a time when there were more than 20 tourists the whole length of Bourbon Street, and I just left, after having had a 2 dollar night.
My "great mood" had taken a hit.
It then took another one, after I got not even the slightest acknowledgement from one guy to whom I had made some kind of witty aside to, something about my banana peel being biodegradable as I tossed it and missed the trash can.
And then, I was in Rouses Market and had placed my items on the counter and the cashier Treva, whom I have known a couple years now, had made some remark teasing me about those same items ("What are you gonna have, a mustard sandwich tonight, Daniel?). A guy walked up who probably thought that he was better dressed than I, and placed his items down behind mine and then, after eying me up and down with a pained expression on his face as I chatted with Treva ("Yeah, they go great with ketchup soup") snatched his items up and scooted to another register, even though my transaction was not being slowed down any due to our chatting.
Instead of letting my great mood suffer any damage, I just told myself that the guy was just pissed off because it appeared that I was in a great mood and was chatting playfully, when he himself was a miserable wretch, and he couldn't reconcile this with the fact that he was well dressed and had the latest phone on his belt, yet I had a backpack and a guitar and was talking about ketchup soup.
Then, I stepped outside the store to see an effeminate looking guy whom I have seen before, who followed suit by totally disregarding whatever little thing I had said ("I guess I just made it" -as they were locking the door after I had just walked out). He is always very bubbly and chatty with the manager of the store when he steps out for a cigarette, or with the security guy when he does the same, as he hangs around dressed kind of effeminately, but has totally ignored me the couple times when I have made passing comments, just to be civil.
Last night, I felt like putting my face a foot away from his and squawking as loud as I could like a black caped night heron: "WHHHAAAACKKK! WHHHAAACKK! WHAAAAACKKK!!!" Ignore that, sir.

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