Simone Sapienza Siss from Brazil
Simone Sapienza Siss from Brazil
Gaz birds by Maxime Archambault
Friday night at about 5pm, I met up with Christina who had been working to secure us a spot on Royal. She told me that she’d spoken with Grandpa who was playing harp at the corner of Royal and Toulouse and had asked him if he might be willing to share his corner with us for a little while before we headed off for our restaurant gig uptown, and that he’d obliged, saying he needed a break anyway.
Christina’s gear was in my car so she left the corner to retrieve, and I began setting up across the street from Grandpa when Bilal, who manages the art gallery at that corner, intervened saying that she had cheated Grandpa out of his corner and that he would not have us playing music in front of his store.
I neither agreed with Bilal nor defended Christina to her accuser. But when she returned, I informed her what was going on and what Bilal had said, and she immediately walked toward him standing fifteen feet away to discuss the matter. She very calmly tried to explain her actions to Bilal who was upset with her and was refusing to discuss the matter. He had accused her of manipulating Grandpa as well as shoeing off some other musicians who’d had a claim on the corner before her. She told him flatly that none of this was true and asked him if she might explain, but he wouldn’t hear her.
Unfazed, she rejoined me, we packed up, and walked to the corner of Royal and Bienville and played a little bit of music there before heading off to our gig. The night ended well and the restaurant-owner wanted to discuss hiring us for a weekly gig there.
The next night though, we went out to busk some more and this time Bilal found us at Royal and St. Louis after closing his gallery, listened to about three songs, threw down a big tip, signed up on the email list, and loudly proclaimed how good we were sounding.
I think that was his way of apologizing to Christina for the previous night’s engagement.
This past weekend’s busking exploits with Christina began Thursday evening. That night at the end of the session as we were counting money and wrapping cables, up walked Eric Zapata in New Orleans for Jazz Fest with the Gary Clark Jr. band. I hadn’t seen Eric for about two years but we’re bros from way back, and so every time we do cross paths despite no longer having mutual friends or common fortunes in the Austin music scene, and despite having nothing much to talk about save money-making/saving strategies and the life he leads as a wayward guitarist in a successful touring act, it’s like no time has passed between us.
Anyway, we made plans to meet later at DBA to see another successful touring musician’s side project. Eric’s bandmate John rendezvoused with us there. John’s smile broadcast success as did his big white-guy afro. On his arm was a dazzling young lady from New York, here for Jazz Fest. Surrounded by successful people, I felt compelled to drink too much.
And so I was four pints in when the late night act, a country blues duo from Mississippi touring under the frontman’s moniker Lightnin’ Malcolm hit the stage and brought Eric up to play some blues. The music was not my style, but it got the crowd moving a little. Gary Clark showed up at some point and so I had to leave… I felt I was drowning in the success of my comrades.
Mystic gives tarot card reading in NY’s Union Square.
More from the Random Strangers Series
Street musician Valentin Schmidt is playing KT Tunstall song “Suddenly I See” in the street in Paris
Artist: Shepard Fairey
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