It's Happening: Street Entertainers. Yeah, Put Another Quarter in that Jukebox...
I know some people are put off by such a display, but I like it. I figure if someone feels they have something to share and I enjoy it, I’ll applaud their efforts with a little cash. Several months ago, there was a similar scene in downtown Clarksburg. The guitarist had chosen the Go-Mart at Main and Chestnut as his stage. I was taking a noon-time walk and heard his song long before I ever got a glimpse of him. His folk-style rock tunes echoed through the breeze. It was nice. It made my step a little lighter. As I got closer – and yes, I walked that direction for that purpose – I saw he was performing from a folding chair. Before him was an open guitar case in which various bills had been tossed.
Of course, such a scenario is much more likely in New York and other major cities. Even in Pittsburgh recently, I ran across a couple of street-side musicians doing their thing. And during my limited international traveling, I’ve witnessed vocalists in multilingual modes. In addition to their native language, they also dabbled in some American lyrics or otherwise Americanized the performance for tourist appeal. On a bus headed to Cancun’s downtown marketplace, a señor in a poncho serenaded us with “Brown Eyed Girl” and in a Paris-bound metro, a local played accordion for his fellow passengers’ entertainment. I was delighted during the latter, immediately pulling out my camera to capture the moment. My daughter reminded me that if I was benefiting from his song, I owed him some gratitude in Euro form. And she was right.
Perhaps the most creative street-side entertainment I witnessed was on Champs-Élysées. A pair of talented hip hop dancers performed tirelessly for a pretty long time. They put a lot of energy into their performance. Looking around, one could see it was energy well-exerted. An impromptu audience gathered and bodies moved to the action.
Other artists gathered around cafes or museum parking lots, displaying their specialty niches. Some of these artists were likely seeking attention of those who might further their career. Others were there just to make a buck.
I know. Sometimes the first reaction is “If they need money, why don’t they get a job?” Well, maybe that is their job. They have talent to share and maybe we need some lightening up. I think of it as an even exchange, some creative bartering in a land of opportunity.