Putting the Ho Back in Hobart, Day 3

I swapped hosts again after that one magical night, lugging my amazingly non ergonomic backpack and guitar down to the library to meet Megan (pronounced to rhyme with vegan) and then to the Salamanca market. Every Saturday morning Salamanca place transforms into a large arts and crafts type fair – not a terribly notable or unique crafts festival except in the mind boggling fact that it happens every week. In Florida, for instance, we have similar fairs… which happen once a year per place (Spring Arts Festival). At the market I ran into Clare and Steph again walking up and down with Megan looking for the Market Manager. As we found none and the spot they theoretically based was vacant, I decided to set up and play in front of the designated busking area complete with sign warning buskers who hadn’t registered of the dire consequences of playing. A recorder player with a German accent wanted to try the spot, too, but couldn’t find the manager herself. I asked if she wanted to play together but she demurred.

A very slow pitch. People seemed tired from a long day at the market (I hadn’t started ’til late) . Megan’s request of Trapeze Swinger gained no tips – which after the previous day’s success I knew to be the sign of a bad spot. I had a few other goes, getting strange disgust-ridled looks for my foreign songs and moved quickly on to a new pitch round the corner, in a beautiful alleyway called Kelly’s Steps. Sandstone cut walls, close enough for an audible echo (not just reverb), beautiful yellow light with the quality of films made about Tuscany leading to ancient steps curling up to the historic area of Hobart. Less traffic, great acoustics, a beautifully framed now blue sky – I simply enjoyed playing there no matter the income. A little girl carefully opened her little clutch purse, delaying her mother with an admonishing look to tip me. I asked a man passing with a DSLR around his neck if he’d take some photos of me and gave him my card when he agreed while I sang him his request (and Australian favourite) Mrs. Robinson. Megan requested Fix You before we needed to head back to her car, where her dog lacked attention.

We spoke all afternoon away at her place over a beautiful lunch on the patio outside. After dinner she dropped me off back at Salamanca Place, where we noticed a much lighter crowd than normal. I didn’t figure out until I debarked that the cause was a very cold night. After a very brief pitch in the same alleyway as the previous night, during which I received a tip from a woman who told me “You’re brave, on such a cold night.” I moved to the main thoroughfare, setting up at the corner of the closed fruit market. To my right the buskers who’d just finished sat divvying up their earnings over some beers, and assured me they’d be fine with me taking the pitch, though they played and sang their still audible at my location. Further left the bars started so I couldn’t really try a different spot. I just did my thing, confident, using my request list well.

With this attitude my slow start picked up extremely fast. Once again, it’s all about the requests. Two young men abandoned their rush to the bar to revel in “you’re like a jukebox, man!” buying a CD, requesting Yellow and tipping a twenty dollar note between them. All through the night passersby complimented me and the my “I know 108 songs, ask for my list!” sign worked wonders. One member of a group would notice it, dally behind his friends, take my list, and then call the others enthusiastically back. So they do all the talking I don’t want to do so I can be free to sing. I remember most vividly one group of boys gathering round, each tipping some coins. My enthusiastic proponent within the group saw one of them being a bit niggardly and protested loudly, “Thirty cents? Thirty cents?” which naturally prompted the rest of the guys to have a go at him, shaming him enough that he responded, “Look, here’s five dollars!” And in it goes. I took a short break from playing to speak with Anna, a young au pair from Barcelona with much deteriorated Spanish. I sang her Fix You, eyes locked, while loud young men roughhoused and tipped or asked a request around us and I ignored them. She took a photo and she promised to send it, soon.

Our Spanish garnered some unsavoury reactions from those about, as did my earlier Ue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xin – lots of “Can you speak English?” reminiscent of my middle school days. Soon after I started back up, a waiter on break requested Save Tonight, with that shy encouraging smile of a one person relying on tips encouraging another. My night ended with an enthusiastic quartet featuring an awkward freckled ginger boy, a platinum blonde avant garde rail thin, platform shoed Lady Gaga esque girl, a soft spoken lumberjack/indie singer/songwriter guy and a partying artsy type in grey tshirt and scarf and plaid skirt. The first two stayed for quite a few songs, making request after request and dancing awkward and drunk and badly right in front of me. They tipped well, promised a fifty dollar note if I returned next weekend (damn!) and even borrowed my guitar for an awful strum. They called out to a trio of older ladies passing as “mum!” I passed this set on my long walk back up the hills to Megan’s. One guessed me from Hong Kong and asked for advice for which side to stay, money not being an issue. I recommended Kowloon.

Earnings: 99.80 AUD, 2.3 hours
Song of the Day: Fix You – Coldplay

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