Fitz(for a)roy, but not quite a Busker, Day 1

When I transferred to stay with Lily, I saw she had a violin. And a piano. It’s been awhile now since I had a go at the former and I felt so excited to play it I went out and splurged on a set of strings and rosin for her – she doesn’t really play so just sort of had the thing. I’d spend most of my three days in Coburg staying inside her house, moving around between the three instruments. What luck that I had access to a piano three hosts in a row! Lily does contact juggling (manipulation of a clear orb to make it appear to be floating, quite entrancing stuff) and I figured I’d make back my splurged money by busking with her for a few hours somewhere. Unfortunately she never had the time or intent to wander to Williamstown or some other favourable location.

I think, perhaps the chlorination of the water here doesn’t quite agree with my throat. At least that’s what I decided after a short pitch on Brunswick St. in Fitzroy late at night. I was told this was the most happening street, famous for the buskers every five feet all making a killing on the alternative vibe pedestrians wandering out of live music venues and cafes and little boutiques. What I found was a somewhat dead street – that’s what Easter holidays will do, eh? I was one of three buskers along the entire stretch, setting up just in front of a charming boutique with headless white mannequins with stumps swathed by matching turbans. Just as a began the shop owner rushed by to take care of something in the shop, asking me to ward the front door. She whirled in and out in moments and after I told her I’d set up there because it looked pretty and she listened to half a song, she tipped me for my trouble. Soon thereafter, three people stopped to listen, talk and make requests – a nice woman, nicer south asian man and a curious young man engaging me for a long while about what busking was like and such. He’d stopped upon hearing Falling Slowly and sang the harmony softly along. Though I gave him my card, he hasn’t yet contacted me – most people I’ve given my card to haven’t, actually – photographers, cheery people on the street etc. It’s a bit lonesome. I thought for a while he might purchase a CD, but alas!

Kyla, the middle aged woman, requested Norwegian Wood and I blanked on the lyrics halfway through. I felt horrid. Luckily their young companion saved me with a request of the Mario Kart Love Song which somehow all knew and sang along to. They predicted a slower day what with few people about and it being a bit early to busk (but I have to busk earlier than locals so as to return to my hosts at a sensible hour). Correct. Now that I think on it I realize I played a set of no cheery bopping songs aside from Under the Bridge. That can’t have helped. See I’m trying to shore up songs that fall through the cracks in practice/performance, so I always take bad days to think a bit harder about my playlist. Probably reinforces the offness of the pitch. Pun intended.

Mostly the same people passed back and forth many times – one woman threw both her hands in a warding gesture both times with a defensive “I don’t have any money” both times she passed, though the second time she appended it with “Good song choice, though!” while I sang No Doubt. I had to rely on children for tips. One I engaged with a song while his father looked on out of my peripheral. I suppose both enjoyed enough that he passed me a note. Naturally, Where is My Mind once again did fabulously. Must be the humour value.

On the way home I encountered a few of the passersby at the tram stop and we somehow got to talking about the “musician” in the piano bar behind me. I think from traveling to many places and passing many such establishments that they actively seek out horrible singers and bang-on-keys pianists. This one, for instance, was screeching out Eye of the Tiger when we started our conversation. It is so depressing to me that people can’t hear shittiness unless it’s pointed out to them and that they respond to the tune and the banging more than true musicianship. I had to show the note he was trying to sing “the EYE” – a G# by my false perfect pitch – before they realized he was not only a full semitone flat on that note, but strangled and off sounding for most of the song. And rhythm? Wazzat? Who needs rhythm when you can scream into a microphone to incite a crowd with “You know this one!” Ugh. I was very happy to jump on the tram when it finally arrived.

Earnings: 20.80 AUD, 1.2 hours
Song of the Day: Falling SlowlyOnce

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