November 2011A funny thing happened at the colluseum the other day.
It has been a nice time for the street performers in Mooloolaba recently. Nice warm weather, beach crowds, no rain, school is out, summer vibes are happening. There I was, singing the blues at Gellatissimo’s Ice Cream Parlour on a Friday night about 8pm. Loads of people lickin those cones and a good audience they were too. A real foot tapping, hand clapping, coin dropping sort of crowd showing lots of appreciation. This scene is really good for a buskers self esteem , it makes up for all those hours with not much goin on. Yeah Friday nights in Mooloolaba can be a really nice vibe with a some good street performers spread out along the Esplanade plying their trade.
The crowds walking the avenue is a real mix of families, older interstate visitors, younger interstate visitors, heaps of New Zealanders ( a generous bunch ) , young dicks on skateboards, backpackers, and the locals relaxing after a week at the office or just a lazy afternoon on the beach. The constabulary show up and check our buskers permits. The occasional Harley rider throbs his or her way slowly down the strip drowning everyone out for a few moments. A continuous international parade of walkers, talkers and stalkers – you get the picture I’m sure. Every once in a while a person or persons of interest present themselves in front of me demanding ACCA DACCA or a Meatloaf number or just asking about the strangeness of my one man band act. They offer all sorts of incentives for me to meet their demands waving twenty dollar bills around, dropping cigarettes, religious icons, coins, condoms, lucky charms, and cans of liquor into my guitar case. Sometimes I get notes scribbled on whatever paper the writer has readily available. Some of these notes are really funny and some are a bit pathetic. Some notes are crude propositions with phone numbers and suggested meeting places. Maybe folk and blues music attracts the sad and lonely. I’m not sure, but I now understand that it is a fact of life that buskers attract the best and worst of human offerings. It is just the proportion of each of these offerings that make for more or less satisfaction on a given day.
On the night in question I was encircled by a receptive crew and pounding out that old time religion tune ” getting high on jesus ” which goes nicely to the beat of Folsom Prison Blues ( lord have mercy ! ! ! ) when a red headed guy in a crumpled suit popped up right in front of me – his eyes and facial expression said it all. ” I’m monstered – I’m a coke head – I’m afraid of nothing ” . In situations like this I have learnt to keep the beat steady and the show rolling and see what happens next . It is usually one of two things – hilarious or tragic. The dude shoved his closed fist right in front of my face and and hollered for me to ” snort it up “. Although my microphone and harmonica rack was encumbering my view of his clenched freckled paw I could see the big line of white powder on the back of the mitt he was so generously offering yours truly. This was happening in front of about thirty people and I was still on the beat and blowing that harmonica hard. Then the funny thing happened. I exhaled and blew that marching dust all over the whacked out red headed dude’s crumpled suit. At this juncture I felt the old anticipation of imminent hilarity or tragedy. Well the dude looked me in the eyes with such blankness that I realised I would be OK and he was the one to be worried about. His eyes rolled back as his knees buckled and I finally stopped playing. Thankfully Red did’nt fall into my guitar case and some of the astonished onlookers actually cushioned his fall. Some of them were laughing, some were calling for an ambulance and some of them I took to be his mates poured some beer all over his face ( and crumpled suit ) before hoisting him onto their shoulders and struggling off down the Esplanade towards where the next busker was performing.
With the climax achieved the crowd began moving away and I was thankful as I did need a little break after such a tumultuous encounter. A woman who sat on the wall across from me finished her gelati and stood up. She had been tapping her foot in time to my tune. She came over to put money in my case. Smiling directly into my face she sort of breathed the words ” I love buskers “. Then turned on her heel and walked off. Looking down into my guitar case I could see a fifty dollar bill amongst some fives and plenty of coin that had been accummulating steadily throughout the evening. Let me tell you viewers – that fifty dollar was earnt in the most peculiar circumstance – Thankyou to the donor. Now I just want to say that this type of encounter is not a regular occurrence, in fact it has only ever happened the one time. Thankfully, the folks and in particular the children who were witness to this bizarre public offering of dope would have been chastened by the collapse of the red headed zombie and hopefully won’t be indulging in the snorting of marching powder any time soon – if ever. Amen.