#44. Alberta and NE 21st Ave. Jul 16, 2016 - 8:17 pm

I’m not sure why I returned to this spot again so soon. Maybe it’s just because the last show was pretty fun. Or maybe it’s because it’s close to the barbecue I attended earlier in the evening.

Or maybe I just felt like it. I’m allowed! I’ve been traveling for The Day Job™ and for family obligations, so this was my first chance to play out in a while. I walked past a man on the corner who was busking with a guitar, which is the kind of thing that sometimes troubles me. You see, I’m just playing music for fun, while he’s trying to make a living. But I set up far enough away from him that we weren’t overlapping or competing for the same audience.

With my benches and my various instruments in their proper places, I began to play. To no one. But that’s how just about every show starts. You can tweet, you can text your friends, but the truth is, most people aren’t going to show up at all, let alone the time you start.

Eventually I had a little crowd off to the side, in my peripheral vision–hardly anyone stands or sits directly in front. Occasionally even two crowds, on either side, each far from front and center.

As dusk fell, and the tiny crowds dispersed for the last time, the musician I’d seen earlier came riding by on his bicycle. Typically other musicians just nod an acknowledgment as they pass, and maybe give a thumbs-up. Sometimes they stop and listen a while. But on some rare occasions, they want to yell at me for encroaching on their turf. As I said, I try to stay out of the way of working musicians, but I may not always be seen that way by said working musicians–especially if they’re having a bad day in the collection bucket.

To my delight, the man dismounted and parked his bike, and simply sat down to listen. It was just the two of us now, and we talked a little between songs about street music and the challenge of playing only original music while busking (which he also does). He rather enjoyed my stuff, and then at my request, he played a few songs of his own, and the mutual admiration society was begun.

As I called it a night, he asked if I needed a place to stay, because he was currently at a “hippie flophouse” and there was room for me. I thanked him but demurred, and thanked him also for hanging around and doing some street rock with me.

He rode off as I finished packing, and I soon headed into the night as well.

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