Friday, October 28, 2016

Thank You. No, I Mean It!

$16.50 Friday

Friday night, I got to the Lilly Pad relatively early, maybe 10:30 PM.

There was a guy with a guitar and a girl with a banjo and singing on the corner right across from the bar, and barely audible over its din.

I was pretty sure that they were there because, apart from being right across from the bar, it was about the best lit spot, with the light of a street lamp a half block away hitting them. Lafitt's, in its attempt to preserve the late 18th century look, and reinforce its "oldest bar in North America" image, is lighted only by candles inside and gas lamps out front.

Maybe after I had walked past the pair and down the street a ways and had hung my spotlight in the vine, creating a circle of light around me, they had thought: Why didn't we think of that?

I made the above amount in probably a little over 2 hours, but would have played longer had my latest (Folkmaster) harmonica not shown its first signs of wearing out, with one of the draw holes sounding only with difficulty. The fact that it sounds at all could mean that I just need to rinse, oh I don't know, maybe brown sugar? off of that particular reed with warm water, and maybe that will fix it.
It's good to know that I can order another one for about 18 bucks, through, and have it here in about 4 days.

"Thank You"

I really need to come up with a mechanism for, and this may sound pretentious, dealing with people who are effusive in their praise of my musicianship. All of the better buskers have them, I've noticed; yet haven't taken enough notes on them.

A young lady last night had told me something to the effect of wanting me to know that she had really enjoyed the song that I had played, and that I had talent and that I should never stop playing nor give up on my dreams, etc. 

Modesty keeps me from elaborating upon the encomiums that she heaped upon me.

I think that she was genuinely (pretty drunk and) trying to encourage me. 

Perhaps she was recalling a time in her life when she had self doubts, insecurities, and was struggling with issues of self esteem when someone came along; maybe her diving coach; and, holding her by the arms, looked her in the eyes and gave her such a pep talk that, bolstered by that encouragement, the young lady was able to nail a triple Louganis (or something) and take home the Nebraska State Finals trophy.

I hadn't felt like I had gone completely into my "zone" in a performance during which I was hindered by the one plugged note on the harmonica and plus, I was playing my second consecutive night without the aid(?) of marijuana and things seemed mundane and I didn't feel like I had just played anything really special. (290 days without drinking; 2 days without pot, for the record).

A certain apathy towards what she was saying must have been legible in my expression, or maybe she sensed a world-weariness about me because, at one point, as she was staring into my eyes, and in the middle of saying something like: "You've got it in you; the sky's the limit; reach for the stars; there's nothing you can't overcome if you just..." she suddenly stopped, frowned, and then kind of dejectedly said: "Whatever," and walked away.

She did leave me 5 bucks, though.

Back to the point, though, I need to develop some kind of ready response to people who are profuse in their praise.

I Wish I Had That Problem

Saying "thank you" is only half of the battle; it is all in the tone with which it is said.

I haven't paid close enough attention to how the real professionals handle it, outside of studying Tanya Huang, who is informed that she is any variant of "amazing" on such frequent occasions that she has developed a pat response to it.

For her, this is a smile while saying "thank you." 

The smile is like one that she might offer if someone walked up with a camera and asked: "Do you mind if I get a picture of you?" after she replied "No, go right ahead."

There was a guy who dressed like a leprechaun in St. Augustine, Florida and sang (Irish, I guess) songs in a tenor voice. When people threw tips in his hat, he too, would say "thank you." But, he would say it with a tone of great surprise, as in: "Oh, gosh, almighty, I wasn't expecting that at all! Why thank you!" with just the "thank you" part, of course.

I have tried that, and like it as well as any other. Changing the very next word coming up in the song to "thank you" is what I do when I am in the middle of playing. "Jeremiah was a thank you; was a good friend of mine..." type of thing.

I think Brian Hudson has a good "thank you," I believe he works "I appreciate that," into it, said in a tone that implies: If you only knew how many hours I spent on getting that song right, kind of like he appreciates the fact that at least one person is praising him for it.

Of course the big acts that get tipped hundreds of times during a performance abbreviate their thank you's to a nod of the head or a slight compression of the lips, maybe a quarter smile.

Christina Friis (above with Brian Hudson) has a very sincere "thank you" that I'm not sure I could pull off. She is from Denmark, where people are basically more sincere, I think.

But it is the tourists who walk up and say things like: "I just want you to know that my wife and I have been listening to you for the past half hour from the balcony up there as we were eating our meal and we have just totally enjoyed it and we think you are one of the best....etc...etc" that can quite simply embarrass a guy.

And, again, if this sounds pretentious ("oh, I wish I had that problem: how to deal with people telling you how great you are") I will point out that, given the wide variety of musical tastes in people, there will be someone to tell almost every musician that they are great; even the guy who plays the 3 note intro of "Smoke On The Water," by Deep Purple on a distorted electric guitar will have some drunk dude come along and say: "Man, you rock! That sounds awesome! I hate all this horn and violin and acoustic guitar crap! Give me Richie Blackmore any day!"

Granted, the latter guy might not be as hard pressed to come up with a way to deflect praise and remain humble, as it may be few and far between, but I seem to fall somewhere in the middle and garner maybe one or two per week who befuddle me.

You can say: "Thank you, that means a lot to me," but if it isn't said in the right way, then you might get a "whatever," and a girl walking away.
I have tried: "Thank you for appreciating it," -thanking them right back; but am not really sold on that one, either. 

1 comment:

alex carter said...

Just a smile and a "thanks" is the least skeezy.