Thursday, August 10, 2017

So Sad

  • 8 Dollar Monday
  • Larry Intelligence
  • 6 Dollar Tuesday
  • Bobby Trying To Help Me
  • Cosmic Occurrences With Time And Symbolism

I'm sure that news of my 6 dollar Tuesday night busking will turn up the flame under my friend Bobby in buiding C, who has been trying to help me "as a friend."

He has told me that I could use his amplifier and his guitar, which has the built in electronics to plug into the amp and which plays great in order to amplify myself in hopes of increasing my income the "4 times" that I have heard reported by other street musicians that became amplified, going all the way back to The Boogie Man in St. Augustine, Florida (who also told me that he had doubled his income through the addition of a harmonica to his banjo playing and singing, prompting me to try the instrument myself) and through Johhny B., and even Nervous Duane who has his own favorite spot where he can crank his amp up considerably and "I turn that thing up and I always make money..." make money.

Bobby has always kept me abreast of his acquisitions, as far as music equipment. After he bought the Fender "Acoustic" amplifier (custom rigged to reproduce clean acoustic guitar sounds) he insisted that I try it.

He has also been talking to various people that he knows in and around the restaurant business, putting out feelers for where there might be a dishwashing opportunity, that might give me a way to guarantee a certain income, so that a 6 dollar night would give me 6 dollars on top of what I've already made, say, working from 11 AM through the dinner hours at 10 bucks per hour.

The only Catch 22 in that scenario is the fact that, if and when the restaurants start to get busy, necessitating my coming in and washing dishes, the corrollary would be that it would be starting to likewise pick up at the Lilly Pad. I have had 150+ dollar nights at the Lilly Pad, and they have probably come on nights when restaurants were slammed and the dishwashers might have worked 12 hours and taken home 88 dollars. I'm almost certain they haven't come in August.

It seems that I have already started at the bottom rung and climbed up the street musician's ladder.

Working in the restaurant business would be cool if I were a chef that had invented my own dishes, and that people came from all over the world to enjoy.

Bobby also has gotten a trailer which can be pulled behind a bike, and a battery pack which can be charged at home and which will run an amp like his, through a voltage converter, for probably at least 8 hours.

I had always thought that Bobby was an opportunistic shopper who knew a good deal when he saw it and who had grabbed the stuff which just happens to be what a busker would need to play Royal Street, alongside Tanya Huang, Brian Hudson and Christina Friis, because he had gotten deals that he couldn't pass up. Now, I wonder if he had hatched a plan to help along my musical carreer a while ago.

8 Dollar Monday Brings Priceless News

I'm sure the most noteworthy thing that occurred during last night's 8 dollar outing was when a pair of guys who looked to be in their early twenties came by and who had said that they were from Jacksonville, Florida.

They looked like traveling types, but not really dirty ones. They threw a couple bucks in my jar after listening to a couple songs, saying that they wished they had more. That has been the mantra of several tourists the past couple months.

We started talking about Jacksonville, with myself relating my experience of being homeless in the upper middle class section of "Mandarin" in that city. This conversation eventually changed its focus to Saint Augustine, about which I had a few stories. Then, suddenly one of them asked me if I knew "Larry."

It was soon determined that we must have been talking about the same Larry, after I described him the way only a buddy who was his camp mate for at least a year in that neck of the woods could. The guitar case stuffed to the gills with sheet music printed out at the library was the clinching piece of identifying information.

He then filled the other guy in about "this old guy who plays in front of the taco place on Saint George Street in Saint Augustine."

The "old" part makes me wonder if Larry's hair has gone gray in the 8 years since I've seen him.

And the "Saint George Street," part makes me think that Larry has elevated his status in that oldest city in America and has forged a bond with the management of said taco place and has been extended the privilege of playing on that venerated street.

When I was there, in 2010, the "historic" section, which could fit in about 10 blocks of Bourbon Street here, had been cordoned off with strict guidelines imposed upon any kind of performer, stating for one that he/she had to be at least 50 feet off of that venerable historic street, and concrete markers had even been placed in the pavements of all of the side streets leading off of St. George.

It was a shame because, out of 1,000 tourists, 999 of them would walk Saint George street, but they would enter and leave by any one of 16 side streets, and so a busker was likely to see more like 200 tourists pass on such a night.

At one time, the city had become overcrowded with street performers with jugglers (for example) supposedly blocking entrances to businesses or, in the mindset of business owners who were going under in the great depression era of 2010, were enticing people to throw money in their tip jars that could otherwise have been spent inside the establishment; on necklaces made from seashells.

Only a handful of artists could sit on St. George Street and busk, and have a legitimate shot of taking home 100 bucks per night, only by dint of their having obtained permission from the business owners.

Larry must have fallen in with someone who ran a Taco place on St. George Street, who said that he was welcome to pull up a stool and busk out front, or just as likely, Larry works in the place making tacos when he is not out front busking.

Either way, I feel good to have had one element of this blog come full circle, in a way, in the manner that Charles Dicken's novels always had characters that would be introduced in the early chapters who then would reappear later, usually as quite a surprise.

It was good because the reader is already familiar enough with the character to be able to fill in a lot of blanks pertaining to his role in the present action.

So, the young guys are going to go back to Jacksonville, and when the one of them next visits Saint Augustine is going to carry news of me to Larry, the old guy who plays in front of the taco place.

I think that, if I started to Google photos of the Saint Augustine "scene" thoroughly enough, I might chance upon a photo of the guy which might also reveal the name of the place, and, who knows, maybe with a simple phone call ("wait a sec, I'll run out front and put him on the phone") I might be able to hear the voice of Larry after an eight year or so haitus.

It would be hard for me to recommend him coming to New Orleans to do what he does, but then again it would be hard for me not to.

I could see Larry sitting in front of Filipi's Taqueria on Decatur Street and playing not loud enough to annoy anyone (because he sings from the head and not the diaphragm in a soft falsetto which belies his 6'3" 250 pound deportment, and which some ladies have described as being "sweet" -like the way a mother would sing to a baby she is rocking to sleep, I always thought) and making a decent living; maybe even more than myself.

He would be ultra "approachable," as his music skills are minimal, and not intimidating (in a "We better stand back and let his guy entertain the masses" kind of way) and yet, aided by his guitar case stuffed to the gills with sheet music, he is likely to be able to perform almost anything that anyone might request, and would put his heart into it, and would thereby establish a rapport with whomever tourists had asked him if he could play some Townes Van Zandt or some Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac.

"Wagon Wheel," "Wish You Were Here," "American Pie," "Freebird," Allman Brothers, a half dozen Jimmy Buffett songs, ...I'll let you know when I run out of stuff that Larry can play...

And he might even do better than myself (because with the amount of "energy" he puts into playing, he is able to keep at it for 8 hours a day).

Unfortunately, a lot of the blog posts from the time when I was in Saint Augustine were lost after this blog was deleted in 2009, after I installed a third part hit counter that was putting malicious code on the computers of my visitors along with counting them. But Larry was a major character.

I might just try to contact him in this connected world that we live in.

I hope if the tourist sees Larry, he will tell him that I am an amazing musician, or something to the effect.

I can blow away anything that I might have played back then. I have learned an amazing amount in those 8 years.

That is an observation that was made by Ricky the clarinetist.

My first day in New Orleans, not knowing any better, I set up directly across from the Monteleone Hotel, having chanced upon it when it was untaken by any musicians.

It may have been that Ricky, the world-class clarinetist who had been playing there and who had taken a quick break, saw me coming, but figured that I wouldn't even try to play there, since I only had an acoustic guitar.

When he got back from the store to find me there, he explained that he was a world class clarinetist ("I've played at Preservation Hall") and that he made serious money there, with regular tourists looking forward to hearing his clarinet ringing out in front of the hotel and others seeking him out, just to hear him play.

That time, I refused to yield the spot, thinking that I was perhaps being tested in some way on my first day in New Orleans.

Ricky didn't get visibly mad, but only retreated a bit into the entranceway and sat and listened to me play for about 20 minutes.

I think he knew that I was going to realize the futility of playing that spot with an acoustic guitar and would be gone shortly.

He was right.

After about 20 minutes of playing my "best" material, aware that Ricky was sitting behind me, leering and putting a hoodoo on me, while I tried to show him why I thought I was worthy of the spot, I had made only 2 dollars.

I left it to him.

I saw him about a half hour later and he had a hundred dollar bill in his case, along with a few other bills. He was tooting away on stuff like "Sweet Georgia Brown," and the scarecrow's "If I Only Had A Brain" song from The Wizard of Oz, and could be heard 3 blocks away.

"I told you," he said, scooping up the 100. "That guy gives me a hundred bucks every year. Every year; I just gotta be out here," said Ricky.

It was probably about 3 years later when Ricky next heard me play. He was sitting with Paul from Doreen's Jazz Band who said something to him to which he replied something to the effect that I had gotten infinitely better since the first time he had heard me play.

I had gotten off a freight train drunk on whiskey and had stumbled into the Quarter with a piece of crap guitar on my back -a "fixer-upper," both the guitar and myself, I guess; but it was probably a blessing in disguise that my first lesson in busking came from Ricky, the world class clarinetist.


It has been at 12:23 AM that I've checked my watch at the Lilly Pad at such a time when I felt the first wave of exhaustion come over me and was pondering knocking off; more than any other time of morning.

I was telling this to Lilly.

She said that she had had a similar experience when, it seemed that every time she looked at her clock, it was 7:11 AM.

This past (Tuesday) evening, I got to the Lilly Pad at about 10:45 PM and played for sparse crowds, making 6 one dollar bills, but getting 6 complements.

I played until I felt that I had put in a solid effort and, after looking down Bourbon Street to see only a few gaggles of people, decided to call it a night.

I pulled my phone out and looked at it.

It was 12 something, with a piece of probably loose tobacco stuck to my phones screen over the second two digits.

I brushed it aside to reveal that it was 12:23 AM. It changed to 12:24 in front of my eyes.

One theory about what seems to be a bizarre coincidence might be that, throughout most of the 1990's, I had a little black and white TV on which I would only watch David Letterman each night at 11:30 PM, and then would snap the thing off (before being sucked into watching the drama involving cheating lesbian midgets on a Jerry Springer type show that might vie for my attention).

Now, David's musical guests would always be the last thing featured every night. In fact, after they performed, there would only be enough time for a few bars of the Late Night Theme from Dave's band and a curt "Goodnight" with a wave before the logo appeared and the program went off.

This would mean that just about night after night for years, I would be primed at 12:23 AM to hear David's musical guest. This would be of interest to me. I was still holding on to the dream of being the musical guest on the Late Night With David Letterman show some day, I guess.

Why this might have instilled in me the urge, at this same time each night, to knock off from busking is a mystery. But, that is one connection between music and that time.

About Lilly and 7:11 AM, well, Lilly I'm sure she had her own dreams.

Back To Lilly

So, the fourth time that Lilly invited me over to swim, I arrived at about 5 PM., and was let in through the gate under the inquiring looks of more than one lady seated in front of Lafitt's Blacksmith Shop Tavern.

Lilly made quite a fuss over her phone and was having trouble getting the music on her play list to play. She seemed quite determined.

I later learned that she and her daughters had compiled that particular play list, most likely with Lilly and I's swim in mind.

There was choreography which went along with the songs on the list, which was followed by Lilly.

"California Dreaming" played after we had just gotten in and were floating, buoyed by brightly colored foam floats, of which there happened to be 2 already in the pool, evoking the talk that Lilly and I have had about us moving to Spain after she marries off Chantilly and Angelique to nice gentlemen.

And then, one of my busking songs played.

Another Celtic song played, during which Lilly informed me that the Celts originated from the north of Spain, and then fixed me with a gaze, during which I noticed distinctive Celtic features in her face. I was bracing myself for an Enja song to begin any second, though one didn't.

And then, "You're My Best Friend," by Queen played after we happened to have gotten out of the pool and were sipping coffee together, like best friends do.

But the most vivid image had been, when I was sitting there, congratulating myself for having made it there on time; suspecting that Lilly would have felt stood up had I not come, when "Another Day," by Paul McCartney and Wings played.

"Every day she takes a morning bath she wets her hair, wraps a towel around her and she's heading for the bedroom chair; it's just another day."

Lilly emerged from around the side of the house, bringing coffee, and had wrapped a towel around her head, just like the lady in the song. How much thought had gone into the play list; with her daughters well wishes mixed in, and how Lilly had paced the entire affair ("Wait, don't get out yet. Ok, now let's get out") was very endearing. I was so glad that I hadn't stood her up.

"Stay, don't stand her up...and he comes and he stays, but he leaves the next day; so sad.." sings Paul McCartney.

"I love this song so much," says Lilly.

I have the song about 80% learned, planning upon surprising her with it upon one of her 11 PM returns to the house. Lilly is indelibly the woman in the song to me. To Paul's credit, the song is a showcase of music writing skills and has elements such as a minor chord going to its major form, which made me smile because that is a good example of the kind of "rules" The Beatles used to "break," supposedly because they didn't know any better. A song is either in E minor or E major, but not both, right?

The exact same chord change appears in "A Day In The Life," right when the alarm clock rings before the "Woke up, got out of bed...dragged a comb across my head..." part of the song.


In that song, the guy wakes up and drags "a comb across his head" then drinks a cup of coffee. The lady in the Wings song drinks 2 cups in the next verse.

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