Friday, April 08, 2005

Rainy day activity / Vs. the String Witch.


A few months ago, someone suggested I start one of these to record my busking and performing adventures.

I'm not convinced that I have many days that would count as adventures in most reader's minds. However, I've had a sore throat all week, and it's a wet day out, and so.

Many years ago, I was busking in the underground concourse in Philadelphia - specifically, in a glass tunnel adjacent to a broad, columned gallery that led to the trains to New Jersey. The acoustics were stunning, and the spot had long been the main venue of a blind woman with a seeing eye dog, who played fingerstyle guitar and sold cassettes. She and I had had a few unfriendly encounters .

She was nowhere to be seen when I scouted the place, so I opened my case, tuned up and set to. I was really enjoying the natural reverb of the spot.

This would have been the early eighties, so I would have likely been wearing a black leather jacket and steel toed engineer boots, black jeans and t-shirt, and a belt with a skull buckle. My guitar would have either been a cheap plywood dreadnought or the Martin D - 18 I aquired during that period. Hair - probably quite shaggy.

Anyway, after just a little while, she showed up and demanded that I vacate her spot. I informed her that there was no plaque with her name on it, and that I had gotten there first. She blustered a bit and withdrew. To a spot a short distance away, where she and her dog - just waited. Within sight.

I broke a string. Always prepared with spares, I changed it. And immediately broke the spare. Which I replaced with a string of close dimensions. Which also - instantly - broke.

I had enough money in my case to buy strings. I never played that spot again, and I kept well clear of that surly blind busker.

2 comments:

Stumblin said...

Some buskers are fiercely territorial. Sometimes it's just a question of negociating with them, other times they pull out a knife (this happened to me in York when I'd inadvertently beaten someone to "his" pitch).
For prolonged and profound discomfort however, try a Saturday afternoon in the UK when there's a football match on. If the football fans are on the other side of the street, expect to be pelted with pennies hurled with considerable force (and occasionally accuracy, ouch). If they're on the same side of the street, they'll probably spit in your guitar case. All of the above have happened to me at one time or another.
I also got ejected from the Paris Metro, apparently I'd distracted a party of beggars in the course of their daily duties and they'd called the authorities!
Not sure how relevant all this has been, but I thought I'd share and let you know I've been reading your site.
Solidarity Brother.

Dan Lange said...

Yea, I've been involved in some pretty ugly "territorial disputes" over a Busking pitch; nowadays, I just wander on and find somewhere else to play - even if someone sets up within earshot of a place I was ALREADY playing (Berkeley. The stoners there are often surprisingly dim.)