I hopped on the train around 5:15p and played Hey Jude to a not-so-captive audience. Before arriving at 125 street, it occurred to me that I'd left my merch fanny-pack at home. I would want it for the show, so I turned back to get it.
About half-an-hour later I was again busking on the downtown A train which I would take all the way to Nostrand Ave in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. This show was to be held on a rooftop there, mostly featuring acoustic, folk, and/or punk acts. I was scheduled first on the bill.
I emerged at Nostrand Ave and began walking the seven blocks north until an enormous black man recognized me, "hey, guitar guy!" I paused for a moment, looking back at him bewildered. "Long time no see," he said.
"I'm sorry, have we met before?" I continued walking with my new friend. He was at least one foot and a hundred pounds bigger than I. He put his arm around my shoulders. We were apparently much closer friends than I'd realized.
He said it was his girlfriend's birthday and he wanted to get her something nice. He wondered aloud whether I could spare any money to help him. I told him that I had just got off the train, busking for my own livelihood. I couldn't afford to spare anything. His arm was heavy on my neck. I was thankful that my busking money was in my front pocket so that I would not have to procure my wallet.
"Here you go man, here's a couple bucks."
"That's it? Let me get eight more."
"Five more?" He haggled. Then three. Then one. "Come on, I'll send my girl up to your place, she'll suck your dick."
This was enticing, of course, but I told him that was not necessary and asked why his girl would S another man's D. I eyeballed the address numbers as we neared the building where the show was to be held. He continued to press me for money as we walked up to the building where the show was being held.
"Alright man, here's another dollar. Wish her a happy birthday for me."
I also asked his name. Though I doubt he's homeless, Ron would make an interesting case for Good Morning Joe.
I played pretty well except that I attempted to cover Lilac Wine and failed miserably. The crowd was forgiving and complimentary throughout the night. I gave out my stickers for free, making many new friends. Sticking around for the rest of the show, I saw six other acts and made great new contacts in NYC and Athens, GA (where the headliners, Werewolves, were from).
The subway ride home was shared with new friends and a talented ventriloquist who may or may not have been busking. He never asked for money but he was really great!
I came home totally exhausted and tweeted about the night's shenanigans. Listening to local DIY music, munching on vegan food, and taking in the city's sunset from a rooftop in Bed-Stuy, I saw a tipping point in the distance. I'm excited about the possibilities, the potential for DIY music in NYC, particularly in uptown Manhattan where I live. I get the feeling that something's about to happen..