Austin, Live (Indoor) Music Capital of the World, Day 4

What with the pleasant pitch on Guadalupe the night before, I returned on Monday (2.21) to the same pitch. I played twice there and basically failed both times. The difference between weekend and weekday is very stark. I’m thinking, now, that it might be interesting to aggregate all my data and figure out just how different each day is from the next – get an average wage for each day, each time of day, each kind of environment… OKCupid style.

My first go went happily enough with the benefit of sunshine. Bram’s girlfriend passed by once in a happy bright yellow tshirt and many of the transients from the previous night also passed. That’s the problem with Guadalupe – the high count of bums (which I must distinguish from homeless people) – who often use me as a point of congregation. Shortly after I began, a troupe of them sat down not ten yards away to heckle passersby for change. They stayed the whole pitch. Now I use bum specifically to mean generally white folks with ratty, mostly brown torn clothes, tattoos, beads, relatively nice teeth and disaffected expressions. They heckle passersby for money and not long after wander into the CVS and purchase foodstuffs without much restraint. Smoke weed and cigarettes on the streets… I despise them.

Nothing particularly significant occurred for the greater part of an hour for my pitch. I ran methodically through my list of twenty songs (half of the forty I hadn’t much played or needed to debut) with hardly a tip. Many stopped to lean an ear in, including the pleasant CVS shop tender; the greatest tip yield from this behavior was a quarter. At one point a group of girl scout cookie sellers passed and I sang them I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends.

Actually, my one tip from the first hour was very very significant. My first tip from an Asian male! Remember, I started in May…

The whole feel of the pitch flipped when a nice older man who’d passed the night before asked me to sing an original and I obliged with From Dawn to Busk. Later, this man, Mack, gave me his contact information to meet me at a “neutral location” the following day so I could give him some songwriting tips. He also promised that he never hits on anyone below 50, which I thought ironic, since that amounted to hitting on me, in a way. As I played my own song, a trio of kids from a photography class asked if they might shoot some photos of me. I agreed. People began to gather with an established audience of four, and three songs later, when they left, I’d made the rest of my day’s total.

Zebra on Guadalupe

Since I’d already made back my ticket cost, I took Bram’s roommate’s advice and trekked up to finish my must-sees of Austin, a place of locally owned eclectic shops epitomized, apparently, by Toy Joy. Well, I was a bit nonplussed by it. It wasn’t quite the high hippies playing glaze eyed at bouncy balls, but not much better. The establishment next door, however, more than made for it. Burger Tex II’s bulgogi burger lived up to the hype and then some. Brilliant idea and well worth my days wages.

Toy Joy

I walked past a very excellent duo softly crooning Iron & Wine style (beard and all) covers of Greenday songs. Hardly audible they’d managed $2 in an hour, which they considered pretty good. A set of girls photographed them with no tip, from the same class, of course. My second pitch is hardly worth mentioning. After forty minutes or so of tipless songs and the only interactions being with an old lady selling flowers who said “I liked that song about peace and love, you know, in ’61 and ’62 I was in San Francisco, the summer of love, that was a good time. I was there.” Clearly she tried to stay there in her mind. I abandoned the pitch to check out a concert of original works by Bram’s fellow music students. I loved it. Innovative, a great, welcoming atmosphere, brilliantly played, it reminded me of all the things I missed about art music.

Earnings: $7.10, 1.7 hours
Song of the Day: From Dawn to Busk – Terrence Ho

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