Monday, June 26, 2006

Often, people walking by will smile and give me a thumbs up. I keep hoping they're not Australian.


I'm identifying different types of tippers. There's the ones who try to surreptitiously drop their tips in my case as they hurry by, no eye contact please. There's the ones who make sure to show me what they're giving me, usually with a big smile. There's the ones who try to slam dunk their change into the case (subdivided into those who succeed and those who have it bounce back at them and have to retrieve it...or leave it for me to retrieve). Then there's the ones who make change.

Now all I need is catchy labels for them.

I don't think I've had any "dippers" yet (people who look like they're leaving a tip, but instead actually take money), and if I have, I'm happier not knowing it.

And then there's the very small children who just know that Daddy gave them a dollar and told them to put it in the nice lady's case, and they have no idea why, but they're thrilled about it anyway. They get their own special category of cute.


Dear Young Mother,

I know toddlers need to have their diapers changed, and I know Boston Common is a little shy on changing tables, and I appreciate that you wanted your kiddo exposed to music, but did you have to expose everything else on the kid directly across the path from me? You couldn't have moved about twenty feet either way?

In fairness, though, thank you for taking the dirty diaper with you. Not everybody would.

But still.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

So there I am in Back Bay, playing something fiddly, when a woman in a bright orange Hawaiian shirt approaches me and asks, "Are you the Accidental Fiddler?"


"I love your blog!"


So hello there, friendly individual; I really liked your shirt, and if I seemed confused, it's because it takes a bit for my brain to switch from "playing mode" to "interaction with fellow human" mode. It was nice to meet a reader who wasn't someone I already know!


I didn't realize that, when Red Sox games are cancelled, they broadcast that in the T stations; I wonder if it's all of them or just the ones closest to Fenway Park?

All I know is I heard it about 97 times in Back Bay, and I saw a number of mildly disgruntled individuals in Sox apparel, and if you're not going to be spending the $4.50 on a hot dog, how 'bout dropping a bit of what you were going to spend in my case? No? Oh. OK then.


The performer's area at Back Bay is right next to one of the giant trash cans, which doesn't bother me, except today when a disheveled individual came up, rummaged around in it, found a discarded beverage, poured it into his own cup, and drank it down. Dude. That can't be sanitary. Also, dude. *shudders*


Rain rain, go away
For farmers, you may be OK
But Fiddler wants outside to play
Instead of underground all day.

(I'm a musician, dammit, not a poet.)

Friday, June 23, 2006

I ended up playing outside Stony Brook because they were changing the lights or something inside. I didn't do quite as well as usual; I think it had to do with 1) being to one side of the entrance and therefore not catching everybody as they came in or out and 2) people coming through the turnstiles already have their wallets out.


I mentioned that new kid violinist who likes to play on City Hall plaza. I beat him out there yesterday and he went walking by looking slightly annoyed.

A couple people I know who could abuse their authority (but wouldn't!) have offered to "take care of him" for me. I told them they probably really shouldn't. If he gets there first, he gets the pitch, and that's fair. But it's nice to feel valued.


A young lady came up to me and told me it was her wedding anniversary, and "Ashokan Farewell" was her wedding song, and did I know it? I'm fairly sure it was the same woman who'd told me this a few weeks ago (minus the anniversary part), and I had just played it before she came down the stairs, but I obliged. It is a lovely tune.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

This was unusual the first time it happened; now that it's happened twice, I really want to know what's going on...

I was playing by a fountain in the Public Garden, and an older Asian gentleman dressed in khaki shorts, a white T-shirt, and a cap or visor (I've forgotten which) got into the fountain basin, sloshed around for a while, and left. Same thing happened again a couple days later.

The first time, the basin was mostly full; the second time there wasn't much water in there. The only thing I can figure is that he was looking for coins, but do many people toss coins in those fountains? They just don't quite seem like wishing fountains to me. (Toss the coins in my case! In the case, people!)


Speaking of my case (look, a rare and elusive segue!), a disheveled man came up to me (waaayyy in my personal space) and told me I shouldn't have it open like that because there was "too much money" in it. Since I was playing at the time, I just smiled and nodded. Then he closed my case.

I stopped playing, flung the case back open, snarled "If it's closed, people won't put money in it!", and glared. He wandered away looking at me like I was terribly rude.

There were only about five dollar bills in it anyway.


Someone requested the Pachelbel Canon today (and if you don't know it by name, you do know it. It's played at every wedding anywhere ever). It wasn't really so much of a canon since it was only me, and for as many times as I've played it at weddings, I stumbled badly through a couple transitions, but my audience enjoyed it.

(For those of you familiar with it, yes, I only hit highlights.)


After I finished playing and headed to Starbucks, a nice Thai gentleman followed me there. He'd been sketching me and wanted to know (very nicely!) why I'd stopped playing. I told him I was expecting my ride, talked to him for a bit, he showed me the sketch, which was clearly not quite done.

I would have felt more badly if I hadn't recalled he'd been photographing me quite a bit as well.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

One of my favored spots to play is under the overhanging branches of a tree in the Public Garden.

Somehow, I think there was less tree a few weeks ago, and that the tree is winning.

Also, I need to invest in bug repellent.


A little upper-middle-aged Italian-looking lady gave me $5 to play Schubert's "Ave Maria." I was glad she walked away as I started, because I recognize it on hearing it; I can hum it all the the way through, but darned if I can actually play the whole thing (hence it's appearance on my "To Learn" list.)


I may owe royalties to the Hill sisters' estates. A woman came up, dropped a dollar in my case, and asked if I'd play "Happy Birthday" for her son. Of course, I said "Sure." She called over this little seven-ish boy with blond curls and said to him, "Let's see what she plays next!" When I launched into "Happy Birthday", his face lit up and he beamed. How much are royalties on a dollar?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I was playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", and a little girl came running up, dropped a penny in my case, waited politely for me to finish, and said, "You're really good" before running back to her mom.

That just about made up for an otherwise seriously lackluster day.
At one point yesterday, I was being photographed, sketched, and videotaped, all at the same time.

I just hope I didn't have anything green in my teeth.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I spent the parts of the day in which I had to be outside wandering around in an oversized teal poncho. Hey, it kept my fiddle dry.

I feel sorry for the Scooper Bowl, though...they gave up early today. I hope they're around tomorrow because I want ice cream, and it's for an excellent cause.

It's raining in Haymarket and Government Center; I didn't go to State Street today, but I imagine it's raining there too.


The little elderly gentleman on oxygen I see at South Station came up to me today and said as how he hasn't seen me in a while. I knew people were starting to recognize me; I didn't expect anyone would actually miss me. I felt incredibly guilty though, since when he came up to me, I was playing "Isn't It Grand Boys", which has a refrain of "Isn't it grand, boys, to be bloody well dead?" and I'm not sure how much longer this gentleman has for this world. I highly doubt he was familiar with the song, but I haven't quite outgrown my magical thinking phase, so I'm going to make it a point to go back to South Station and look for him. It will assuage my conscience.


A nice woman and her friendly and plump chihuahua sat and listened to me on City Hall Plaza. She requested "Amazing Grace", and I obliged. It's not a tune I have in rotation, but it's simple, pretty, and easy to embellish. I'm not quite sure how I feel about playing it regularly though; I don't want people to feel they're being preached at, and I think most people who grew up in this country would recognize it.

Similarly, I'm just not very comfortable playing "Dixie", for different reasons.

I do play "Simple Gifts" quite a bit, but that seems more folky and less preachy to me. I suppose people will take things however they choose.

I was considering a "Redemption" set however, consisting of "Devil's Dream", "Amazing Grace", and "St. Anne's Reel". These are the things that the Fiddler alone finds amusing, on account of being slightly warped and very dorky.


Speaking of slightly warped, I made it a point to play "Devil's Dream" several times yesterday. Nothing untoward happened.


And speaking of very dorky, I may be the only one who gets this, but I had just played "Hunter's Chorus" from the opera Der Freischuetz by Carl Maria von Weber. A distinguished gentleman approached me and asked me what it was; I told him.

"By who?"
"Ohhhh, not Webern."
"*laugh* No, not quite."
"I don't suppose Webern would play well on the T."

Um...OK, it was funny to me.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

So a couple days ago, I played at Stony Brook after work for First Thursdays. I was going to go down to Centre Street and play outside there, but then the heavens opened, so that plan was negated.

I was talking to the woman who'd asked me to play in the first place, and she started telling me about this blog she'd found by a Boston violinist and how the blogger was talking about not touching the fiddler, and I said, " that the Accidental Fiddler?"


"Um...that's me."

The whole evening was a little surreal, especially when I found someone I knew from a previous lifetime working at Emack and Bolio's.

Also during that evening, someone asked if I could play and dance at the same time, like Natalie MacMaster. I can barely walk and breathe at the same time, so I laughed and said, "Not quite." He said that by the time I'm her age, I'll be able to.

I checked, and she's younger than I am. So much for that theory.


I was playing on City Hall Plaza on Thursday, and I had to quit early, not because of the weather or anything, but because Dashboard Confessional was doing their sound check.


A man started talking to me while I was packing up, and something about him just presented as a little off. He turned out to have some trouble understanding appropriate inhibitions in interacting with strangers. He asked if guys hit on me all the time, and I told him not really, and anyway, I was taken. He said he'd ask me out in a heartbeat; I thanked him, but I'm taken. He said he thought girls with stringed instruments were automatically erotic, and I could play scantily-clad for my boyfriend, and were my measurements 36-24-36?

Then the train came. I'm often happy to see the Orange Line, but I was even happier to see it at that moment.


I was playing "Red River Valley", and an older woman came up and started singing along with tears in her eyes. People have told me I made them cry before (usually with "Danny Boy"), but this is the first time I've actually seen it happen. I've been so involved in music for so long that sometimes I lose sight of how it affects people.


A man hopped off a Green Line train and took my picture. He had a digital camera, and he showed me the result, and it just proved that my concentrating face looks like my mad face. That's why I try to remember to smile while I'm playing; I don't want to appear unapproachable.

Except maybe to guys who think all chicks with stringed instruments are erotic, because that's just a little creepy.