Busking at the Kraków Dawn (Ok, Night), Day 3

Why not return to Floriańska?(8.20.10) One of my best pitches but it flowed so well and felt so short I don’t remember much of anything specific. I started a little after noon at the same spot near the McDonald’s after checking out other possible pitches – Rynek sported the same guitarist by a massive crafts fair and a band setting up behind Kościół Mariacki which were the only other promising spots. At Floriańska I sang my best songs – all sadder or at least pensive and the people really responded.

The windowsills didn’t have enough space for the young people gathering to sit and listen so they spilled out to sit cross-legged on the street in front. One pretty girl with ringletted brown hair and a kind smile sat for a long time, never moving her gaze away. It made me quite nervous and I think this made the music better. Many young couples (few small children this day) stopped and looked (rarely succesfully) for change. After staying half my pitch the girl left with an “I’ll be back, Thank you!” look in her eyes and returned shortly thereafter with five of her friends.

I was just beginning Hallelujah at the time. My best song. Almost every passerby stopped. Many tips. By the end quite a few had gathered by the opposing wall. I often rush songs in the nervousness of street performance but the audience calmed me (strange, huh?) and the verses came out at the right speed – the notes lingered and weren’t suffocated by the clumsy chord changes I’m prone to. When I finished the girls jumped up and led the street in applause. If I could blush I’m sure I would have. As it was I smiled sheepishly and bowed.

I beckoned the first girl over for a request and they gathered around me for Tears in Heaven. Very close, eyes fixed on me, smiling – gosh I was distracted trying to sing to them, meet there eyes but not falter. I had the hardest time looking at the girl with the brown hair. Her meltiness made her me sort of melt also. They tipped as well as they could, the girl gave me a breathy, “You have some new kind of voice.” and looked for a second like she wanted to hug me or something. She glanced back with shining eyes after every slow step she took back out the gate.

After a stressed session at the library computer trying to decide on my next destination I met up with Casey for a meal at a Bar Mleczny – a “milk bar” which he promised was part of the the genuine Polish experience – super cheap food where you pay for the plastic silverware and the prices are precise to numbers like 5,87 PLN. We met his girlfriend there, dropped off his delivery tricycle and headed to Kazimierz, the old Jewish destrict of Kraków.

They gave me a nice walking tour, during which I started to feel a little uncomfortable what with the tension between them and the effects of lugging my ~8 kg case around. The place Casey recommended me to play, Plac Nowy, had a rough, off feel to it – but he seemed so unhappy about my disapproval that I decided to play him some songs there anyways. He loves Jim Croce, so after Operator he gave me my second ever Jim Croce song tip. A man sitting at an opposing bar looked surprised after I started and really appreciated my music, dropping me a 5 zloty coin (which is a lot in Poland – like a meal) when he finished. Aside from him, however, I had just two other tips, both from passing couples (one very kindly as I packed up). A set of three young girls stood before me near the end, giggling away, and took some photos with me. My voice felt awful from drinking the tap water which I was told later was not exactly potable.

I watched Casey demonstrate some footbagging tricks (which drew a lot of attention, too) and we played some ping-pong with his friends before I headed back to Rynek for the night.

This writing was a little.. scattered. Sorry. I just wanted to get to the Rynek evening. It was one of the most synchronous moments of my life. I sat in the middle of square, leaning back on my guitar case like a chair against a statue’s pedestal in the brightly illuminated night time company of singing scouts, buskers, drunks and tourists. The scouts sang alternately brilliantly (one girl) and terribly (all the guys). One busker in front of them performed a fire juggling show while another drummed away at the south edge. Every now and then one could make out the sound of a Hang player or the accordion trio resolutely playing their William Tell. When the trumpeter sounded his tragically abbreviated call at the turn of the hour the buskers respectfully stilled.

I sat near the center and thus back from the main thoroughfares as I drew the church, but when I neared the end a girl complimented my work greatly, despite it being a touch crooked. Aided by her two friends, she convinced me to sing a song for them – Falling Slowly. It fit the vibe perfectly. The scouts were taking a break, the juggler finished his show with a flourish, the accordionists were packing up and the drummers were long gone. I lent one of the girls my guitar afterwards to sing while I touched up the drawing as best I could and we were joined by a set of buzzed Polish men. One of them spent the time watching me in amazement (his inebriation no doubt) while a girl proudly said, “Dobrze Bardzo, nie?”

Earnings: 44,15 PLN, 1.5 hours
Song of the Day: Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen

3 thoughts on “Busking at the Kraków Dawn (Ok, Night), Day 3

  1. I'm heading there in September for two weeks and hope to raise the cost of bringing my guitar over by busking. Got a cheap flight from Dublin but the guitar's fare was more than mine!


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