Green Park #1 - 26th September 2014
A fellow busker who plays a larger accordion than mine (very well), took it upon himself to lift my 12 bass 'Alvari' piano accordion, bought for me by my partner, Jan, from an antique shop in Shoreham-by-Sea, out of its case to inspect it. I commented that it's heavy, to which he replied, "It's only two pounds!" and that my accordion doesn't have enough buttons on it for his liking.
I then got the 'thumbs up' for my accordion playing a few times, which was encouraging, and quirkily, a woman shouted out, "Drums!" accompanied by an impression of someone drumming?!
I don't know what I was thinking (I wasn't), assuming that busking with the accordion would be easier on me physically than the violin, because even though I'm not wearing out the fingers on my left hand so much, it kills the tops of my arms and back. Hopefully it'll just be a matter of building up my stamina so I can play for two hours solid with it...
A lady told me that the accordion "sounded great around the corner": At least, now, I know that the sound carries sufficiently in the echoey acoustics. I just hope that I end up earning as much money on accordion as I have done on the violin.
Oxford Circus #2 - 27th September 2014
I was surprised I'd managed to book this popular pitch for 12 pm on a Saturday, and was wondering why (for once), I'd managed to get it. Then the answer came to me: It was mega busy even for a Saturday at Oxford Circus. It felt like rush hour at 8 am on a week day and revellers bawled above the strained sound of my accordion as the temperature began to rise.
Straightaway a smartly dressed woman gave me a £5 note which got my hopes up for it being a good session. Sure enough, money was forthcoming in drips and drabs, but London's undesirables were out in force: a skateboarder with a fag between his fingers doing tricks down the corridor making a racket, and some lad who attempted to psyche me out with his staring. Little did he know, I'd experienced his sort before and I find that completely blanking them usually does the trick until they get bored and walk off.
An old lady came up with her money and remarked, "You don't play through an amplifier."Taking it as a criticism, I retorted, "I don't like amplifiers", to which she said, "Neither do I." So maybe she gave me the money as a reward for not assaulting her eardrums?
Charing Cross #2 - 27th September 2014
Having fought my way down Oxford Street and by now, in a thoroughly bad mood and exhausted from lugging the accordion around, I decided to treat myself to spinach lasagne and rose milk from Govinda's Restaurant on Soho Street. The takeaway lasagne portion was minuscule, the milk too sweet, and I'd paid an extortionate £6.50 for the privilege.
As predicted I was inundated by barrage upon barrage of disinterested faces who (the station supervisor informed me), had invaded central London for the Japanese and Embankment festivals. After a red-faced wanker told me to "Keep squeezing!" I resolved to try and make enough money to cover my eating expenses for the day and then to go home (equipped with the knowledge that trying to do two two-hour performances in one day on accordion is going to be impossible).
Green Park #1 - 28th September 2014
So it was back to playing violin for this session, and after being on accordion for a while, it felt incredibly easy to play! It had been good to have a break from performing the 'folk' set, as today I'd come back to it feeling refreshed, and a lady commented it sounded "beautiful." One smiley gentleman spent ages searching his suitcase for some money to give me, and I attempted to replicate on violin the expressive change of dynamics I'm able to achieve on accordion. This resulted in my playing containing more of an 'edge'.