It’s starting to become standard for me to arrive and start a pitch almost right away. I had quite the fiasco this morning (8.12.10) getting to the bus – my laundry, which had been in the dryer all night decided to get damper because the austrian dryers best setting is “schranktrocken” slightly damp. What’s the point of a dryer if it doesn’t dry things, may I ask? Hence I had to pack my clothes schranktrocken into my rucksack, which causes two undesirable things: a heavy pack and smelly clothes. Happily everything after I left Haus Erasmus went perfectly – each metro pulled in just as I got to the platform and some nice Austrians I accosted very happily helped me out after I solicited them in German – one pointed me towards the bus stop (hard to find) and another agreed to take my stamped letter and postcard to the post office.
I met up with Mates with no problems and after a quick supper we headed into town to a delightful little underpass by the National Muzeum. Busking is completely illegal in Praha except for three locations – where you need a permit which you can only obtain if you’re local and attend a monthly meeting in the middle of nowhere. Mates told me police weren’t too heavy handed with the fines, though. Just inside the pedestrian tunnel, he asked a woman at a pizza shop about busking at this pitch – people had been harrassed by police before – but we decided to try anywho.
It was a great great first pitch in Praha. Mercifully no police showed up and I was able to sing for about an hour. I got tips often – small ones as Czech people aren’t so wealthy as others – but the vibe of the pitch was extremely positive. Lots of people lingered, From the beginning the whole tunnel was hopping. The pizza lady came out to the doorway of her shop and watched, smiling madly. I pulled out all the popular “hits.” A unique pitch for me because everyone gave, not just younger women or older folks. Poor men passed by and tipped with grins. A young man told me to “Keep it up.”
Mates stayed for about half the pitch and I think that contributed loads to the vibe. After he left it slowed down (the shops also closed and the traffic petered). Something about having company gives me a lot more confidence; it’s like I don’t worry about messing up or getting a bad reception because I have an ally, giving requests, etc. And I think passersby seeing another person video-ing me and photographing me makes them notice me. Another benefit of having Mates there was his translation of what they said. One girl said to another: “We don’t need to go to the club, the music is so good here.” A set of gypsies talked for a bit with Mates, telling him, “He’s so good, we didn’t expect it!”
I Started A Joke – Bee Gees
Mates wasn’t my only ally down there. One cheery young man in a green shirt actually outstayed him. He began to pass me as I was starting Hallelujah and his reaction – I’ll never forget how enthusiastic he was. He dialed his girlfriend almost immediately and held spoke excitedly into the phone for a second and then held out his phone towards me, people passing the hole while. He stayed almost till I finished. Smiling at me the whole time. At the end he offered me a cigarette, very apologetic about his lack of money, but I assured him I didn’t mind, and that his presence was the best part of my day. He requested Hallelujah one more time from me and my voice surprisingly obliged.
A final note about this great pitch. For some reason or other I took an about face from the other day in Wien, singing all male songs. Towards the end people came in spates, becoming progressively more male and rougher looking. One of these, in a yellow sporting shirt, sang along to The Boxer. I couldn’t go wrong this night, and that’s a great feeling.
Earnings: 242 CZK, 1 hour
Song of the Day: Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen