Sunday, July 30, 2006

Lovely day for busking today. Mid-70s, sunny, and the tree I often play under seems to have been trimmed a bit so it only hit me in the face a couple times.


A small boy named Jack asked in a very tiny voice if I would play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Of course I did. I hope he starts taking violin lessons; I should have thought to ask if he does or intends to. He's old enough for Suzuki.


I make it a point to try to thank everyone who tips me. I have discovered that it takes some time, while I'm playing, for the language part of my brain to kick in, especially if I'm trying not to let it affect my playing. So if I see a tip coming, I can get out an audible "Thank you!"

If it's snuck up on me, it can range anywhere from a very soft "thank you" to an overly loud "THRAWK YURGH!"

Perhaps the Fiddler needs to work on multitasking.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I'm starting to get recognized. Someone else on the Orange Line asked me if I'm the violinist who plays at South Station sometimes. I acknowledged as how I am, and she thanked me for playing so beautifully.

So far, I'm only recognized when carrying the fiddle, though. I doubt people really look at my face much, and that's fine.


A while back, I saw another violinist playing at Government Center, and he was barely audible. I was worried for a little that maybe I'm not very audible either, but then I remembered that one friend had heard me from downstairs at North Station when I was playing upstairs, and someone else said she could hear me from the dog area on the Common when I was playing by the duckling statues in the Public Garden, so that's all right.


I have found "76 Trombones" to be an excellent earworm. I'll hear people wandering away whistling it when I'm done. I almost had to quit playing it once though when I was in the Public Garden, and Professor Harold Hill came strolling by.

I still don't know where he was going, but nobody dresses like that unless they're in The Music Man.


Speaking of clothing, maybe the Fiddler is getting old and cranky, but who lets their ten-year-old out in public in a shirt that says "SEXY GIRL"? Seriously.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I'm baaaack. It's nice to skip town for a few days. I was in Seattle briefly, where I saw a trio of buskers outside Pike Place Market, with a sign that read something like "PHOTOS ARE OK, BUT IT IS POLITE TO TIP FOR THEM."

I can't count the number of people I've noticed taking my photo from a distance behind a tree and then scurrying off. I don't really care, but do they think I'm going to chase them down, waving my bow threateningly, unless they give me a dollar?



I saw a gentleman in North Station whom I see about every time I play there; he usually tips. This time, he tipped, went a little ways away to make a phone call, came back, and held his cell phone up to me so whoever was on the other end could hear what I was playing. I felt like I should have been doing something a little more upscale than "Arkansas Traveler" (aka the Baby Bumblebee song), but whatever.


I was unpacking in the Public Garden, and a woman gave me a handful of change before I'd even started. I'm going with the theory that she's heard me before, because otherwise, it doesn't make sense. Not that I'm complaining about being handed money randomly.


Traveling on the Orange Line, a woman said to her toddler son, "Look, it's the violin lady!"

I'm becoming notorious or something.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Time keeps passing while I'm not paying attention, but I wanted to mention that the Fiddler will be out of town for the next few days, and busking may or may not occur during that time. I'll be back (and exhausted) on Monday; will try to post you a little something Tuesday.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Incidentally, I'm afraid I'm going to have to learn "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. I've had two or three requests for it, and it's not difficult; I'm just not particularly fond of the song or the movie.

I was working in retail when that movie came out; I did see it in the theatre, but my favorite discussion of it came from two of my coworkers. K couldn't remember which main character died (and if that is in any way a spoiler, I can't help you).

K: I liked it, but now I can't remember how it ends.
M: The. Ship. Sinks.
I was playing at South Station, and a woman came up and said, in a charming Latina accent, "You touch my heart."


In the space of a short time in the Public Garden, I saw a man wearing one of those traditional Chinese cone-shaped hats (he did not appear to be of Chinese descent), a young man with a large blond Afro wearing a bright orange stocking cap perched on top of it, and a small child run out in front of a motorcycle cop.

I'm not sure which of the three was the greatest cause for concern.


I committed a breach of performance etiquette and took a cell phone call while I was busking, during which two people tipped me. Um.


On the Fourth, I played in the Public Garden with an emphasis on the American side of things, with folk songs and patriotic songs and American fiddle tunes. I'm not sure anyone else found it as amusing as I did, but "76 Trombones" lies surprisingly well on the violin.


I was playing "Chicken Reel" in Back Bay, and a woman came up and said, "I had walked by, but I heard that and thought 'This woman deserves a dollar.' You're funny."

At last, "Chicken Reel" gets its due.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Dear Fellow Performer:

I realize it's astoundingly bad etiquette to steal someone else's pitch. But when your pitch consists of a couple milk crates, a hat with a dollar in it, a CD, and what appeared to be a week's worth of Metros, and you didn't come back for half an hour, what did you really expect?

To your credit, you weren't mad, and we chatted for a while (although I could have done without the hot dog bun crumbs being sprayed at me while you talked), and I certainly understand that nature calls, but I waited for a good five minutes and was playing for another twenty before you reappeared. Anyway, you have my card if you want to contact me.


I was recounting this story to a friend, who asked me how many street performers are doing it as their sole source of income. I have no idea of the answer to this. For a while, I was considering trying it, but it's so unpredictable, and your income is completely dependent on the whims of other people. In the summer, I think it would be fine, but it could make for some hard winters, unless you're an ant rather than a grasshopper. I have been a grasshopper, which is why I need the busking money now, but I'm slowly developing more ant-like qualities.


I was playing on the Green Line platform in Government Center, and a family of four was dancing along. What a good way to distract the kids from the fact that they're waiting forever for a train. That was sweet.


An older lady with more bags than teeth came up to me, gave me a handful of change, and wished me Happy Holidays. I was thinking she was not entirely oriented in time, but someone pointed out that it's almost the Fourth of July.

I think this may be a regional difference, as where I'm originally from, people may say "Have a good holiday" for Independence Day, but not "Happy Holidays."

Or maybe she really wasn't oriented in time.