Monday, 26 December 2016

20 dollars and a bucket-shaker - 18th and 19th September 2014

Over the weekend I played Scottish and Irish folk fiddle at two weddings; one at Brentwood Catherdral and the other at the Tithe Barn, Petersfield, I got invited to play at whilst busking. I guess that busking my repertoire is the best way of advertising what I do to the general public. Both weddings went well, but I'm exhausted from all the nervous tension of performing solo to sit-down audiences instead of to passersby on the Underground. 
In the middle of the evening rush hour at Oxford Circus #2 on 18th September I busked my piano accordion set on the Underground for the first time. Having not performed on accordion for any length of time for over a year, I'd forgotten how heavy it is and kept having to crouch down in the sweltering heat to take the weight off! I think one woman thought I was about to pass out as, concerned, she asked if I was okay.
I thought that the accordion would sound a lot louder down here than it actually did, which was a surprise: I suppose that I'm used to having the soundholes of the violin right up next to my ears as I'm playing wheras the accordion's sound comes out at waist-height. To add even more unease to the situation, I discovered that I'd forgotten the list of songs I was going to play and so I ended up having to play the four or five I could remember, over and over again!
Amazingly, however, the money rolled in nicely: I got given a 20 dollar note that I exchanged for £10, early on, and not having to clamp the violin under my jaw meant I could make more eye-contact with people. I play a few jazz standards on the accordion and people enjoyed singing along to 'My Way' and because my accordion case is squarer than my violin case, people felt that they could jump over it, rather than simply wait a few seconds to walk around it.
Friday 19th at Green Park #1 was spent repeatedly practising the song Tayo had requested I play at her Brentwood Cathedral wedding on Saturday - 'Kissing You' by Des'ree. By the end of the session I felt as if I'd nailed the learning of it and I got a number of £1 coins for it, which boded well. Right at the end (thank goodness), a shifty-looking guy shaking a charity bucket arrived opposite me. As it turned out he wasn't authorized to be down here, and was given the boot. When I used to busk double bass in Ilford town centre, charity workers and kids selling stuff would pitch up next to me in the same annoying way (drawing attention to them, but donations of money away from me). It's great having the back-up of station staff to help get rid of such pests, now.

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