I never wrote notes for this spontaneous busking day in Sacramento. Oh well. On my way to Chicago courtesy of the reroute I had a five and a half hour layover in Sacramento. With the train station adjacent to Old Sacramento, I decided to wander out for a breakfast and a Subway sandwich (cheaper than train food by far) for that day’s lunch and dinner. I’d hoped to find some Banh Mi to stock up on, but no luck. The charming tiny “Chinatown” estate’s Vietnamese restaurant wouldn’t open until 11am, minutes before my train was to depart. I took my guitar with me and gave my backpack to left luggage.
After a Denny’s “slam” breakfast which I amusingly discovered a way to pay rather less for via “create your own slam” and selecting the same items. Flaw! I headed to a pedestrian tunnel passing beneath the freeway and linking Old Sac to Downtown. Unfortunately, this tunnel isn’t entirely enclosed, with large gaps between lanes/directions of the freeway and on ramps above funneling the roar of traffic and amplifying it throughout the tunnel just as I hoped to harness the acoustics myself. Add to that the man blowing away leaves at one entrance of the tunnel and a rather large width – maybe thirty feet? and it made for an un-ideal pitch. But I wanted to, morning and all. And there was a nice mural in there.
I’d been practicing a few songs on the train from Seattle. Sheikh’s workout was beginning to catch up to me but I could still play, if a bit less deftly. I sang to a steady trickle of pedestrians, most of which gave me confused looks or ignored me. Some smiled, but I think most were to in their own heads to pick out the music from the ambient roar. A latino couple, boy sweeping girl into his arms into a Disney princess carry despite her girth more than equaling his. Three elderly women in business casual chatting with separate suspicious glances cast furtively towards me. A poor latino man with the smell of cigarette smoke and sweat clinging to him staying for two songs enthusiastically, apologizing for no money, kissing my hand, telling me not to cut my hair. A confused family hurrying on at first sight, slowing down, turning around, slowing down, turning again, ambling on. A woman jangling her change specifically as she neared, passing close as if to tantalize. A blind woman turning a few times before I called out “I’m here” and advising me on the specific cross-streets in Old Sac, smiling then turning on. A college student racing head down, ashamed.
The greatest wonder of all, however, remained my sole tip of the day. A middle-aged Chinese gentleman on his morning walk approached during Nowhere Man while the family I mentioned before followed twenty feet behind and watched his behaviour. He strolled, pace neither quickening nor slowing as he dropped me a dollar and turned his head to keep grace me with a faint faint smile. I guess experience and stereotypes don’t always hold. There’s still room to be surprised.
Earnings: $1.00, 45 minutes
Song of the Day: Nowhere Man – The Beatles