My best day. I started off at Senaatintori after taking some time in the morning at Harri’s flat to pray. I took the African man’s (who I met at Iso Roobertinkatu) advice to heart and played from my heart and from enjoyment, not from a desire for money. I started with Jon Foreman’s House of God Forever before running through my most polished, slower songs. And what a response. After the first few songs, one man came down from the steps to tip me and told me to stand nearer the steps, that I play very well and they’d like to hear better. Buoyed by this, I did, standing almost at the foot, where I could see everyone clearly.
Right when I’d started singing my first song at this closer location, a sports team I’d seen briefly at Iso Roobertinkatu passed by to take photos and hang out on the steps. They were a rowdy bunch, but harmless. A very very appreciative audience, clapping after each song as soon as they were done with their photos and staying for 4 or 5 songs. I played high energy pop ish things for them, like Relax, Take it Easy and such. At the beginning, during Hey Ya, one of them came down and told me they’d give me five euros to play the same song with my shirt off. I responded that it wasnt appropriate in that location. He upped it to six and then eight, taking his own shirt off and twirling it around his head as he stood next to me, but I kept turning him down and told him I wasn’t that desperate, as kindly as I could manage. He smiled at me and returned to the group. They tipped me well when the left, anyways, I think they respected my self-respect and appreciated my music.
Not so long after they left, a group of well dressed churchgoers came down the steps, mostly young children with their parents. They sat on the far left of the steps before me when they saw me, clapping enthusiastically and smiling broadly. Throughout most of the rest of my time at this pitch, they were my biggest source of energy. Every now and then the children would get coins from their parents and drop them in my case.
Another group of church goers came down (the first was probably Sunday school) and they loved my music. One middle aged woman stuck around when I sang Ue Wo Muite Arukou, enraptured, to my surprise (she was definitely Finnish), very moved. She told me after she remembered it from the Sarajevo Olympic games, then asked if I knew the song Sayonara, which I didn’t. Another woman, her friend, came by, and I started absentmindedly strumming Streets of London, which is also capo 4, while I told them about just having graduated, etc. The other woman picked up on the song in her expression. I asked her if she knew it and she smiled nostalgically. So, of course, I launched directly into it. They sang along occasionally (the chorus, mostly), and tipped me a second time before loading into their car.
Right before I left, an Asian couple from America (California from the accent) gave me a coin as I packed up, saying big fan and smiling broadly. Simply the best day out yet. Bright, warm (no hoodie), energetic, wonderful audience, and I know I sang near my best.
Harri and I left to see Janne and Sonia and their children Edwin and Olivia at their place in Arabia for the Brazil-Cote d’Ivoire match. Wonderful. Such a kind, warm couple, so welcoming and personable – showing me about the house and conversing with me easily and curiously. I couldn’t have met better people. Another highlight of my stay, certainly.
Earnings: €33, 1.5 hours
Song of the Day: Streets of London – Ralph McTell