[As reported on 4/9, “Fiddling in the DC Metro“, the Washington Post ran an article on violinist Joshua Bell busking in Washington DC. The following is a comment on posts made to Fiddle List a few days later.]
I have greatly enjoyed all the posts stemming from the WP article on J. Bell’s DC busking experience. As I thought, the amifications go wide and deep and several of you have pointed out very interesting ways of looking at this situation, so ingrained in folk fiddle musics.
While I haven’t done much busking myself, I’d like to share one experience from a few years ago that has stayed with me.
Fiddler Byron Berline lived in the Los Angeles area (Van Nuys) many years, and returned to his youthful stomping grounds around the turn of the Millenium. Before he went, we did a number of shows together. We were hired to play the Santa Monica Pier on a Sunday afternoon (it happened to be Super Bowl Sunday, so Byron had Bette tape the event to watch later – they’re both sports nuts).
Anyways, we played as a duo; Byron on fiddle and myself on guitar – a program lasting about 2 1/2 hours with a midway break. It was on an outdoor stage on the pier, and we got a pretty good audience – they applauded at the right places, etc. At the end of the performance, I believe Byron finished up with his “Sally Goodin”, and the crowd loved it. Many came up to say hi, perhaps buy a CD, etc. One person, obviously a man of the streets in a ragged jacket and pants and baseball cap, came up to the stage front and said nothing at all, just stood there, beaming. He emptied his pockets of all the small change and bills he’d collected that day – leaving us with a pile of cash, turned around, and strolled off, as if he were a millionaire returning to his limo.
I don’t think either one of us will ever forget him.