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Note: Stick with me, it will take me awhile to make my point. Apologies if you drop out early with disinterest. :)
I don't get or make the time to go outside my home to play very much. Last night, with my girls away for the weekend, I decided to head out with my guitars in hand. Truthfully, I could have spent a lazy evening at home in peace and quiet. However, I committed myself to do it and around 8:00 jumped in the car for the quick ride to Saratoga Springs. The small city and Broadway are alive with tourists and locals dining outside at cafes and walking the sidewalks.
There are several usual buskers playing banjo, guitar or street drums and I was almost surpirsed that no one was out when I arrived despite the crowds of people. The city police had recently cracked down on a magician in one of the parks. I don't know the guy or the real circumstances, but I guess there were complaints. I worried that maybe they would be doing the same on Broadway. The reported offense is "selling without a license" and the surprise is that there is no license available from the city clerk.
But I digress. . .
Worried about a potential fine, I took the price tags off two guitars I had hoped to sell and decided to just play. I threw all my pics and slides and coins into a cigar box as my "storage container."
I found a little alcove in the shut-down Borders Bookstore and used that for a street mic. I was playing my Padron acoustic that's tuned GBe and sounds great for finger picking. Not too bad and I got a bunch of smiles and a lot of waves from kids walking with their parents. Good enough for me. I picked up El Segundo, my fretless 3-string and tried to do something with it. Something wasn't meshing and the chords were sounding flat or sharp. I was a little too far from the main walking traffic so I decided to move up the street. I was still feeling so-so about being out playing.
I sat on a stone curb around a flower garden and started playing the Padron guitar again. Several people stopped to talk with me about guitars, how to make them and whatnot. A street chalk artist stopped because she saw me in the cigar shop earlier buying another box I don't need.
I picked up El Segundo again thinking that I could do something a little better now that I was seated and not standing (still no strap on this guitar). It was all crap again. Everything was in tune, but nothing was sounding right. Feeling lousy, I decided to move again.
I was told about a group of supposedly homeless people playing bluegrass type music down the street. The Huckleberry Jam Band. I was told my guitars would sound good with them. Not sure if that was a compliment, but I decided to see if they were in their usual spot.
The place they usually play was quiet. The owner of the building also installed some spiky strips on the bricks in the window wells to discourage anyone from having a seat. Boo. The store front next door, however, did not. I took a seat near a crowd of people and decided to play. The Padron got some attention so I decided to give El Segundo a third try.
I picked it up and verified the strings in tune. All good. Set out to play a little and still the guitar was not giving me any love. Like it knew something I should know. I tried and tried and people kept moving farther away. Damn, this is going in the wrong direction.
A little pissed now, I started to wail on the strings a little expecting to break something in 2 minutes if I couldn't put it together.
And like that, it did. The guitar knew I was half-assing it all night.
So I played. And the people came closer. And out of nowhere, a band showed up and started talking with me. "Hey, man. Can we play your guitars?" To my joy, my guitars were passed around and some of the guys could really play. Really made me happy.
The band is J Collins and apparently J had nicknamed his guitar player Punch. El Segundo is a Punch box and they wanted to know where to get one or if they could buy the guitar. No way El Segundo is going anywhere even if it does let me know when I'm being half-ass nobody. I offered to send a box from my collection gratis.
So the guitar knows when it is being half-ass played by someone who isn't really interested. I didn't sell a guitar and I didn't get a penny placed in my "storage" box last night. But I ended the night well with a good lesson.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. I should have been quicker to the point.
J Collins Music has a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/J-Collins/106052389462892