I think the recurring theme throughout busking Vancouver is my obstinate enthusiasm to busk despite non-ideal factors. My busking time is limited by a desire to spend time with Claudia and making sure my schedule fits around Sylvia’s – so on Saturday I didn’t head out to busk until six in the evening. I’d needed to wait at Sylvia’s place until she returned, and then coordination confusion with Claudia and/or Sylvia for dinner ensued. Sylvia went out shortly after me to watch/listen to me busk. She investigated the acoustics – best at the ends of the bridge (I stood in the middle), and had a good share of comments on how I might busk better. Which I found a bit condescending as I have been doing it for fourteen months and I do know pretty well how to choose songs or spots. I’m privileged enough not to need to do it for money, really, so I do have the choice to uphold my artistic integrity. And that is oh so important to me. I avow, often, never to gimmick myself or sing any song I don’t enjoy simply because it’s lucrative (Don’t Stop Believing, Godfather’s Theme, Stairway to Heaven, etc.), nor ever to play a song I do like that is lucrative more than once in a set unless requested to. I have my rules.
I noticed that the rare pedestrian passersby on this cloudy, windy day seemed less willing to pass in front of me than the previous times. On seeing or hearing me they’d choose to walk across the bike lane and walk under the bridge in the roller bladers’ lane. They’d still smile – even the old Asian ladies would smile after a blank confused look, no looks of disgust – but happily had the convenient excuse of distance to not tip. With a clientele similar to the morning pitch, people exercising aerobically in various speedy ways, especially on wheels (and a strange profusion of bicycles with tiny wheels and a lofted frame in a standard firetruck red or spoiled lime green as if rented from the same company), I naturally garnered little in the way of monetary attention. My first tip came from a smiling man before I’d even begun – a loonie. My only other tip came near the end one other tip from a couple with a just-teen daughter. Funny how the tips bracketed the time again. This trio had passed some ten minutes prior, and tipped on their return journey in a very kind and thoughtful way. Where the daughter took time to select coins from the proffered coin purse of the father, both parents smiling down at her while she considered each disc seriously.
I’d played Heart of Gold for Sylvia as I know it’s one of her favourite songs when she arrived. She also rather enjoyed Nowhere Man (for which I received that second tip). She spent most of the time sitting at the end of the bridge out of sight, noting the expressions and dispositions of the passersby as they exited the shadow of the arch. The report: eight of every ten emerged with what looked to be fresh smiles upon their faces. If in groups, she would hear them discussing my performance amongst themselves. Apparently the most common comment was:
“Well, I think he sounds so good because of the acoustics.”
So I guess they didn’t tip me because they’d rather tip the stones of the bridge. Well, at least they thought I sounded good.
Earnings: 3.55 CAD, 1 hour
Song of the Day: Collide – Howie Day