Tag Archives: Jazz

La Mesilla is a small town just outside of Las Cruces.  When I got here on Friday morning, there was a Farmer’s/Artist’s Market going on and I was happy to see that.  My fellow New Englanders, Jainey and Miles, pointed out the person I needed to talk to.I went over and asked her what the rules were and yes, a permit is necessary.  It is very easy to obtain, one just needs to go to Town Hall and fill out a paper and have a demo of their music- or a link to it.  Since it was an unusual day, I was not going to be able to that until Monday. I thought it over and talked with my brother-in-law and decided to stay.  I was able to work at the Market in Las Cruces the next morning and that would just give me Sunday off. On Sunday, I went to get a couple of tamales and watch the Moon rise and the sunset against the mountains. On my way to the restaurant, I ran into Jainey and Miles again at the Sunday Market and Jainey gave me an ornament she made out of a buffalo gourd. It is beautiful, and so thoughtful.  I put it up in the Pearl right when I got back!

Monday morning, I went back to Town Hall and talk with the permits lady and she told me then, the Mayor has to give final approval.  The Mayor wasn’t in on Monday. I still gave her all of my info and sign the paperwork hoping, the Mayor would respond anyway.  I figured I would walk around the Plaza area some and go down a couple alleys I hadn’t been down yet.  That doesn’t take very long, it is a small area, but it is a wonderful area to walk and look at the houses.  I love the adobe style houses! There are a few for sale right next to the Plaza! There are also a couple that are boarded up and  of course that just puts my imagination to work, wondering what it was like years ago.  I ended up going back to the Pearl and accidentally took a nap- WTH – I didn’t want to take a nap! I didn’t get the phone call I was hoping for, so I had another day off. 

I went to go watch the Moon rise again. I wasn’t in the same spot, but it doesn’t seem to matter, it is sheer magic when she comes out from behind those mountains! Afterwards, I grabbed something to eat and went into the bookstore to write in my journal. Later, I got to talk with a friend for a little while. So all in all, even though I didn’t want the day off, it turned out to be a most wonderful day! 

This morning I got the okay to go ahead and get to work.  I went down to the Plaza and it is quite a different story when there is no Market going on.  I went out and played my first shift and though it was slow, got to meet a couple who are also buskers.  They hung around for a few minutes after some Christmas shopping.  There were a few people hanging around the Plaza either walking their dog, or taking photos.  I got to meet a few of them. The sound in the Plaza is pretty cool too.  I found I have to play softer than normal.  The sound just carries all the way down the entire Plaza, and I didn’t want any complaints.  It was a beautiful day this afternoon and I was just happy to be out there! 

I went back out tonight.  I wanted to see the Moon rise for the third night in a row, but she came out a little later than I thought tonight. I didn’t see her until about 30 minutes after I went to work. Of course, I had to pause and take some pictures when she got high enough above the buildings.  It cools down fast after the sun goes down. The Plaza looks wonderful all lit up at night! I still did a full shift though. During this shift, a photog named Emmitt, was out and was going to shoot the Moon.  He shot me instead.  I talked to him for bit and he said “I heard this lone saxophone, the only thing that would make it better is if it was midnight.”  I gave him my card so he could send me a couple of them.  He was a very nice man and I liked playing for him while he took some photos.  It has been a while since that has happened.  It doesn’t matter if it is slow, you never know what is going to happen or who you might meet.  

I got into Las Cruces on Thursday, the 12, and as I had just got into to town I drove by an Art Gallery having an all World of Don Quixote Exhibit.  I went right around the block and parked and went in.  I LOVE Don Quixote.  When I was a youngster, my brother took my Mom to see the play in Boston.  She bought the soundtrack and the music from Man of la Mancha filled the house for months.  Believe it or not, it never got old- at least to me.  All of us kids knew every word on the cassette. I finally saw the movie with Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren and I liked that too.  It was like Don Quixote was a part of my life, as if I knew him.  It wasn’t until two years ago, I read the book.  It is an amazing book! It is not a particularly easy read, but a wonderful one it is!  I digress, anyway, when I saw the sign for that exhibit, I had to go in.  They entire collection belongs to a couple who have been collecting all things Don Quioxte for over 40 years.  They have an extensive collection of original art from all over the world.  They have sculptures, figurines, the book itself in many languages-including the ONLY edition of Don Quixote in braille! The entire exhibit is on loan from them.  How fortuitous that I should come through while it was still here. I also got to meet them and speak with them for a few minutes before they left.  I think they were entertaining friends.  They were really sweet and the man said “It makes me happy that you have read the book!”  Those paintings and drawings were all fabulous! I don’t know what my deal is, but I get overwhelmed when I look upon works like these.  It is almost like I am going to cry over the beauty of these works of art, much like I did at Crystal Bridges Museum.  They are that beautiful! I called my Mom right after I left there and told her all about it.  

Since there was nothing going on in the downtown area, I called it an early night. The next day, on the advice of Ruben, from El Paso, I went to Mesilla to see what was going on there. It turns out there was a Farmer’s Market.  Every Wednesday and Friday they have it right in the Historic Plaza of Mesilla. I met a couple from New England, Jainey and Miles, we got to talking and made fast friends.  They were very helpful with some info as to where to go and what to do, including getting a coffee.  I went to the town hall and the people who had the answers weren’t there.  I got back to the Plaza and Jainey pointed out the person I needed to talk to.  I did, it turns out a permit is necessary and only takes a few minutes to fill out some paperwork.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t do it that day, I have to wait till Monday.  I walk around a little more and found out the Christmas Tree lighting was that night, so I was happy about that.  

I got back to Las Cruces and went to that town hall to get a permit to play there.  I did research and I found there was busking allowed at the Farmer’s Market there, which they have on Saturday and Monday, I think.  Apparently, that is the only time busking is allowed.  It is not allowed in the city, they don’t even give permits for it.  Farmer’s Market is a private deal, and the city has nothing to do with that.  That is why it is allowed there. Now, I have the rest of the day off.  I wasn’t to happy about that, as it was a Friday night.  At least it gave me plenty of time to go to the Christmas tree lighting.  I got back there and they were light candles in bags around the entire Plaza and there were already some lit up on the roof of some of the restaurants and shops. It was just starting to get dark and already it was looking fantastic in the Plaza.   People were gathering around, the middle school choir was warming up and it was definitely feeling festive!  The ceremony started and the choir sang some tunes, the Mayor-who I met earlier that day) gave a speech and then they lit the tree. It was brief, but it was awesome, they gave out hot chocolate and cookies and the choir sang some more songs.

I went to the Basilica de San Albino gift shop after to get a warm and they were also giving out coffee/hot chocolate as it was an open house. I met Father Richard who is the Sr Priest there and we had a nice conversation and then he had to go. I met another man named Victor who was very knowledgeable of the history there, especially the Basilica. The bell ringer of the Basilica is a 4th generation bell ringer there.  Apparently, tradition is taken very seriously.  He also gave me the lowdown on some of the structures.  For those who don’t know, Mesilla is where Billy the Kid use to hang/hide out.  The gift store/cafe I went into was the actual court house where he had his trial.  There are some other historical facts there which I will put up with the photos I took.  I am also a big fan of the old west and those stories and legends, so to be there has been quite an experience! (Makes me look even more forward to seeing Tombstone!) 


Today, I figured I would go to the Market and and play until they asked me to leave.  As with a lot of Markets, I have found one has to move every half hour or so.I saw Jainey and Miles there so I set up next to them to begin.  This is the biggest Market I have ever seen- it takes up all of Main St. in downtown! There are even markers for the musicians.  As I moved around and made way through the Market, the Block Captains were saying thank you to me for being there.  I thought that was sweet.  They probably say that to everyone, but nonetheless, it is always nice to hear.  Certainly better than hearing “You got to go!” So I played 4 hours! I really enjoyed myself there today.  Only one complaint- there were food trucks and none of them had sausage and peppers😉  

Having played for 4 hours, I thought I would go see the White Sands.  I looked at the map and though the National Monument was 50 miles out, it looked like there wood be white sands long before then, just over the mountain. I was wrong.  I had no idea what I was in for.  After climbing a mountain to 5700ish feet high, on the way back down, you kind of make a commitment to yourself that you are going the distance.  The Pearl doesn’t really like those climbs, but we made it! It is all down hill after that, until the way back.  I got out there finally, I didn’t go to the Monument, I just wanted to see the white sands.  It was breathtakingly beautiful! Mountains off in the distance with clouds right above them with the light moon made for a few nice pictures.  The desert area itself was just as beautiful, as far as the eye could see, there were dunes and mounds with some plants interspersed throughout.  After taking several pictures, I stood for a few minutes and noticed there was absolutely NO sound! There wasn’t any wind and I stood there in awe of everything around me. There was a sunset walking tour that started at 4pm but there was no way I was driving back in the dark.  When I got back to Mesilla, it was staring to get dark, but the sun was still on the mountains.  It was just like one sees on a postcard- the upper half of the mountains went from red, to magenta to a pink to a really misty blue and the moon was above, getting brighter.  There is so much a person can see and do and it doesn’t cost a thing. The remarkable beauty I have been able to see (not just on this trip either)- in nature, in the arts, and in people continue to remind me of just how  fortunate I am!

On Tuesday, I woke up and decided it was definitely going to be the day I go to Rosa’s Cantina.  It may sound silly to some, but I have always loved the tune “El Paso” by Marty Robbins and I wanted to see the place.  It is a little place a few miles away from the downtown area.  Apparently, that used to be the main road, before they put in the interstate. Back in the day, there wasn’t much on that road- as I understood it.  I walked in and it was like stepping back in time, to a degree. I was like a kid in the candy store! I went in just to ask questions and take pictures, but I was seduced by the charm of the place. I sat at the bar and Carol was the bartender.She gave mne a menu and before I even ordered, I had chips and salsa verde and a bowl of hot soup I can’t pronounce. I ordered the beef taco plate with re-fried beans and rice and it was freakin’ awesome! As I was having my soup, I saw the owner, Oscar, and I asked him some questions.  Though he is not the original owner, he knows the history of the place.  There is a wonderful framed tribute to the original owner and Mart Robbins on the wall, as well as some sign and framed albums.  Oscar told me the bar used to be up front and the men and women had to be on opposite sides of the room.  Weird, but true, back in the day they had to be separated.  They had live music then, just as they do now. After I finished my soup, I took a bunch of pictures- I am such a tourist sometimes. 

I asked Carol what the turnover was for the kitchen.  She said “There isn’t any, Martha has been here for 35 years”  She went on to tell me she makes everything fresh everyday.  There are no microwaves back there and if she runs out- she runs out. Apparently, that doesn’t happen very often though.  She has an assistant working with her named, Claudia.  The kitchen is very small but they goet the job done. Martha definitely has her act down to a science.  I peeked in for a couple of minutes to watch what they do.  I am amazed at what they do back there in that small space- it is poetry in motion.  Carol has been there since Oscar took ownership back in 2007.  I get the impression, the turnover for any position is nil.  I kept asking her questions as I had my lunch and she answered all of them. She even took my picture under the sign at the bar!  My lunch, including a Tecate came to $8.   There was another server there, I did not get her name but she was also friendly and asked me how I was doing and if I got enough pictures.  I can’t help but wonder if her name was Galina😉 that would have been too much!  Seeing all of that in person and then listening to the tune, it is almost like being there as a witness to everything that happened. I left there happy and satisfied for many reasons.

After lunch, I went downtown to San Antonio and Stanton and I really just love the acoustics there! I also like the JCPenny across the street that looks like it hasn’t changed since the 60s.  I was feeling a little under the weather, I noticed that while I was doing laundry earlier.  I was hoping it was just the sniffles from the cold weather.  I still played a full shift though. It wasn’t as busy as it was the previous two days but, as usual, the people here are very nice.  As I was ready to wrap it up anyway, a man told me to go down to El Paso and Paisano, there are a lot of people there he said.  It was also getting a little late.  I had been looking for that area because there are a lot of people walking in that area.  There are a lot of sidewalk sales and such going on there.  I had seen it before, but couldn’t find my way back there.  I did find a problem though, a lot of music, being played on loud speakers outside. I thought to myself, I will get here earlier tomorrow.  There was a pawn shop selling on of  Pancho Villa’s fingers (at least that is what it looked like with what it said) for the low price of $9,995. 

Today (Wednesday), I found my way to that same area.  There was still music being played on loud speakers, but I found a spot in front of a closed business.  Only to get asked to move before I finished my first tune.  Apparently, the business next door, promotes the music of a local musician and he didn’t like me being there.  He asked me nicely to move it down a block, so I did. I played about two songs my nose was running like a faucet.  It was just the cold weather sniffles, ugh! I knew that when I woke up, but thought I would give it a shot anyway.  I lasted about 30 minutes out there.  Not only that, I didn’t have those awesome acoustics.  I think I may have got spoiled at the other location.  Tonight is my last night in El Paso, I am head to Las Cruces and should be there Thursday afternoon.  I have enjoyed my time in El Paso.  The people here, as I have mentioned, are friendly- from the homeless man who wanted to give me a swig of his vodka, to keep me warm when he had nothing else to offer when he heard me playing. To the people at the Artist’s Market (Rebecca, Ruben, Bonnie and Christine) and all the others who were just amazing in a lot of ways. To a long conversation over the phone making a new friend here, to Mike at the Christmas parade, to a man playing his saxophone with me, and so many other people who made it very nice to be here- Thank you!  Also, it is actually pretty easy to find your way around pretty easily.  The scenery  of the desert and mountains are also something. I am so looking forward to seeing more of that as I head further west!  




I woke up Sunday morning to the Pearl being shook. I thought it was the wind, it has done that before. About 5 minutes after it woke me up, I got up and went to go inside for a coffee and saw my right tail light was smashed. Apparently, a car had back into me in the parking lot and took off. Obviously, I was not happy about this. There were a few people that saw it, however could not give me enough info do to anything with it. I asked to see the surveillance videos, of course only the police can look at them during an investigation. I ended up getting some red and white tape to put over it for now and I will get it replaced soon. To fill out a report, I have to send it to Austin and who knows if anything will come of it, not sure it is worth the time or effort over a tail light.

After taking almost the entire first half of the day to take care of that, I finally got out to play. I liked the spot where I was the night before, on the corner of San Antonio and Stanton, for two reasons. The first is the acoustics there, and the second is there is traffic there. It was a nice day, and I was plating well! There was a man who passed by who was texting his daughter in Philly. She was on her way to see Peter White play, as he does every year, but there was a 52 car pile up and traffic was delayed for hours, she missed the show. He asked me if I would play a couple of Christmas tune for her via speaker phone. Of course I did, and she told him to tell me “It made her day!” That made me very happy, as well as her father (his name escapes me- Bill, I think. I am sorry) He took a picture of us to send to her as well. We had a short conversation after and then he gave me nice tip and left. I was grateful, not only for the tip but also the interaction, he was a wonderful man! Later on a man at the stop light ended up turning around and coming back to talk to talk to me. He also plays the saxophone. After a couple of minutes he wanted my opinion of something he was working on, so I said yes. I had no idea he had his horn with him. He put it together and after a warm up, played his tune. For a second, it reminded me of “Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop” but it was clearly his own thing and it sound good. Over the next 20 minutes or so, we went back and forth with conversation and some playing. He played me another one he is also working on, it too sounded good. It was a little bluesier. He also played a flute for a few minutes. While he was there we got a few tips and I wanted to split them, he said “No, please. Thank you for letting play with you!” Then he proceed to go to his car and get the biggest handful of change I have ever seen anyone put in my tip box and said, “Sorry, I don’t have any bills, but if you will accept this….” I chuckled and said “Thank you!” Again, very grateful for him and the interaction.

On Monday, I got out after sleeping pretty late. I didn’t sleep much the night before. I went back to that same location, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, right? Almost from the second I set up, it was one of the best shifts I have had since I started my trip. There were a few short interactions I was able to have. An older gent came right up to me and told me “In the name of St. Jude, I give you this” except he said it in Spanish. I said “Gracias” He said it again in English to make sure I understood, and I said “Thank you, so much” and shook his hand. He smiled, I smiled and he went on his way. I love that he did that in the name of St. Jude! Not only is he the Patron Saint of Lost Causes, he is much more. I feel I may have received another blessing! A young woman, named Estefania, came up and asked me where I got my training. I told her about PMAC and she asked if I gave lessons. I told her if she had a saxophone, I would be delighted to give a lesson or two while I was in El Paso. Turns out she plays piano and lives in Mexico, must have been here for the day. But I thought it was cool she asked if I gave lessons. I have only ever had one student, Ryan, and has since become a a dear friend. It is something I enjoy doing, maybe I will do again if I am in a place long enough, or maybe when I get back home.

I am going to be here at least one more day. When Ruben told me this city is friendly, he wasn’t kidding. Even when I am not playing, I find the people I talk to, to be very friendly. It is also very cool that I have made a couple of friends here. I still haven’t been to Rosa’s Cantina- I guess that will definitely be tomorrow!

It wasn’t easy to leave Dallas.  Scott and Traci and there kids made it very difficult to leave after practically making me a member of their family.  Though the weather wasn’t very good at all, until almost the end,  they were wonderful.  I really can’t say enough about them and I may have to just do a blog post about them and my week there.  We’ll see!

Anyway, I got to Austin on Friday, around 6:30 and I started playing around 7:00.  A friend of mine,  asked a friend of hers about the scene there and he she relayed what he said.  It was most helpful and finding a good spot, it kind of took the guess work out of it, which makes for an easier time.  I went to the corner of Congress and 6th St.  All up and down the main part of 6th St. are bars and different venues playing live music.  A lot of them with no cover charge, it is hard to compete with that as a busker. I went up a little further and set up.  I played for almost 2 hours. There was guy working security there, his name is Bruce.  Turns out he is from East Kingston, NH. Not far from my hometown. We had some cool conversations while he was making his rounds. I felt a little safer, knowing he was around.   When I was done, I met up with my friend Nikki who used to live in Savannah. She took me to place called Friend’s where there was a great band playing.  It is, so far, the only place I have been to see a band.  She bought me a Lone Star and we caught up a little bit, before she saw a friend of hers who is leaving on Monday.  It was fun hanging out listening to them and the band! Nikki asked if I wanted to go see this other band, but honestly, I was wiped out.  We made plans for lunch on Saturday.

Based on the info I got, I went to San Antonio St. on Saturday morning. The Farmer’s Market  was near there.  I played there for two hours.  I feel I may have got there a little late, but it was still a decent shift. I got to meet and talk to some cool people.  When I was done, I went to Torchy’s Tacos.  Apparently, in Austin, the thing to do is get food at trailers/food trucks- especially tacos.  I wanted the full experience, so I went to the “Trailer Park Diner” to meet up with Nikki for a late lunch.  Through some sort of miscommunication or perhaps I went to the wrong place, I ended up having a brushfire taco by myself.  It was pretty good too, I must say!  I would suggest anyone going to Austin, give it a try.  There are also other trucks in the Park that have lots of different things. When I finished, I tried to see if I could get together with my friends Emily and Jim, also from Savannah.  They were in the area for the holiday weekend. Apparently, not in the direct area.  They were a little too far for us to meet up. It’s all good, I will see them when I get back to Savannah.

I went back out, and played for another 2 hour shift.  This time, on 7th and Congress.  There was a dude who likes to play a drum just for the sake of playing.  He is not busking, just beating on an African drum.  He was there the night before too. During that shift, there were a couple people who came from the restaurant across the street, who were dining on the balcony who liked what I was doing. I had a lot of fun on that shift. I had to feed the meter, so I took a break.

I did a third 2 hour shift. I went back to 6th, the drummer was gone.  I got all set up and played 4 notes, literally, 4 notes and there was an incident.  The police were pretty busy that night. Apparently, the corner of Congress and 6th St. is a place where a lot goes down. There were a couple of incidents earlier, when I was 7th.  Oddly enough, I never felt unsafe, because of the police. Even when this incident occurred.  I played 4 notes and a man was crossing the street. He starts yelling something at he top of his lungs while looking down 6th St. He has crossed the street and now on my side, about 6-8 feet away from me.  I had my hand in my pocket, in case he got to close.  He was hostile, and volatile, I wasn’t taking any chances. Let’s be clear- I did not have a gun, but I have a little something to protect myself.  As he gets closer, here comes the police. Almost right up on the corner. He got out and told the man to stop. Also to get his hands out of his pockets, I took mine out too!  There was another cruiser that pulled up and then two bike officers.  THey don’t mess around in Austin.  I saw the Paddy wagon out earlier twice, on my second shift.  While they were cuffing this man,  I started to play something soft and then stopped, it felt weird, So I waited until they were done and gone. I mean this all happened 6-8 feet in front of me.  Damn phone didn’t have enough juice to work the camera! Fortunately, that was the last incident of the night while I was there.  I got to see Bruce as he was making his rounds again that night. I enjoyed talking to thim.

I don’t remember the last time I had a 6 hour playing day, but it felt good.  In some ways, I am glad I was not able to meet up with my friends earlier in the day as it gave me the time to go out and play. Though it would have been nice to see them! Although, it is so competitive in Austin, I had a decent day out there.  But really, it was very cool to be out there for 6 hours. I mean I can’t do that everyday- yet- or I will have no lip! But I am definitely shooting for that! ,


I got out of Oklahoma City and head to Norman, it was the next town south of there.  It was on the 19th I pulled in there around 5ish. I took around through the downtown area and didn’t see much of anything going on. I figured I would go out later, after I did some work. When I was just about done, I got talking with one of the people behind the counter. He told me there isn’t much going on, on a Tuesday night. I was there for a while and noticed that was true.  Tuesday nights are very slow there.  I called it a night early.

I went back to the downtown area in the late morning and walked around before I got started.  Norman, OK is James Garner’s hometown.  There is a small plaza dedicated to him there with a bronze statue as well as James Garner Ave.  I found it pretty cool to be walking the same streets Rockford himself walked as a youngster!  It is kind of fun to imagine where he may have hung out, though I am sure the place has changed considerably, but a lot of those buildings have been there since he was younger.  I wonder what they were like…

I got started and I played for about an hour and nothing happened.  So I decided to pack it up.  When I went back out later in the evening, I almost immediately was approached by a woman who told me I could play in front of her place- Joy’s Palace.  It is her private club and opens for parties, weddings or some other type of event.  Within seconds of her talking to me, a guy rode up on his bicycle and started playing guitar.  I was quite confused by this, but grateful I had permission to play in front of her business across the street. I went across the street and he stayed there.  He played one tune a few times, it was good but come on! He left after a while.  I was also grateful to Joy as she gave me $10 to get a burger and fries at The Garage when I was done.  It was a good burger, (but Bentonville still wins for biggest and greasiest) and it was a good portion of fries. It was also for a decent price, with what Joy gave me, I was also able to leave a tip.  

Joy also told me I could play there the next afternoon, so I did.  People driving by, would wave and and smile as they saw me.  The people walking by did the same thing for the most part.  The people of Norman certainly are people who appreciate music.  There was a stylist, who put his card in my tip box and wrote on the back, Nice music- come get a haircut on me!  When I was done, Joy came out of her “Palace” – I didn’t even know she was in there.  She brought me inside and gave me the grand tour. It is a wonderful place,  she is talking about putting a burlesque show in there with a live orchestra.  She always has bookings for various things and keeps a 20’s theme going on, with the menu and the cocktails. Basically, my kind of place!  She gave me an open invitation, to come back there anytime I want.  I might just take her up on that!

When I was done there, I went to see Brant, the man who gave me his card.  Unfortunately, I got there about 20 minutes before he had to leave for an appointment.  We had a brief conversation about music and Norman and our work.  He told me I could come back the next day. I told him I was leaving town. I had to get ahead of the freezing rain and awful weather. I wasn’t taking any chances  in driving with black ice and  I didn’t want to wake up in an ice capsule!  He told me the offer is good even the next time I go through there.  I thanked him and he thanked me for the music I played earlier.  He also gave me a Dr. Pepper for the road! I gave him and Joy each a cd before I left.  I do hope to pass through that way again.  I enjoyed the company of the people I spoke to.

From my experience, it appears busking is just fine in Norman.  No permits necessary.  

I spent Friday early afternoon (day 3) in the downtown area, which is actually Bloomington. Bloomington and Normal are right next to each other, one is Uptown and one is Downtown. Both of them are very friendly and welcoming towns. They are also very appreciative of music played by buskers.  That afternoon  was my second time in the downtown area and I was in a different spot and though it was chilly and not much in the way of people walking around, the ones that did walk by were very cool.  I was able to have have a couple of conversations with people and they were just great. After the usual 90 minutes, I left.

I had to brush up on my Christmas tunes for the Holiday party for Saturday.  I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening doing exactly that.  I wanted to make sure I had enough to pepper in with what I usually play.  I thought I would take the entire night off to do that, but I figured it was Friday night and it might be a good night to get out there.  It was cold as the sun had been down for quite some time. But hey, playing is what I do and that is one of the points to this trip.  I was only able to last a little more than an hour and it was time to go. In that hour, much like the time in downtown, the people were just incredible!  There were a lot of wonderful comments AND tips- I like “and” better.  It was just the kind of day I needed, and wish every day could be like. Afterwards, I went back to studying my Christmas tunes.

Saturday (day 4) I woke up early to refresh my memory of these tunes.  When I headed back uptown, my GPS would not work. I got lost and wound up going in circles, and then found myself out by the interstate junctions! A problem I would have later in the night too, ugh! I apparently have absolutely no sense of direction.  I need to work on that, it took me 25 minutes to go only 10 minutes away from where I was.  I got there, good thing I left early, 10 minutes early. I found Joe, the man who wanted me there and he told me where to be. Joe is the City Manager who I met the first day there. He walked by again the second day and that is how I stayed in Normal for 4 days.  Joe is a wonderful man who organizes the events for the town of Normal and apparently, they have quite a few.  On this day, there was a horse and carriage ride around the town and I played right where people got on and off the carriage.  There was also a kettle corn tent right next to me. For the entire day, the smell of that kettle corn wafted in my direction, I couldn’t wait to get some when I was done, sure enough, I did!  Though I did not have my tip box out, there were a few people that still wanted to tip me. I played there for 3 hours and it was a fun time.  Although, I was concerned, as I was setting up, apparently, I had cracked my reed. If there is one think I don’t like, it is breaking a new reed on the job. Also, it was a size 3 reed. I was using a 2.5, needless to say, my lip was shot by the end of the job.Thankfully, it was a beautiful day- the warmest one since I got there 60 degrees.  It was a perfect day to be out there! Thank you, Joe for the opportunity!  When I was done, I walked around the town for a bit and found myself in The Coffeehouse and Deli, where Mary and Mia work.  I had been in there a few times since I got there.  This was the first time I actually had conversation with them. Like the rest of my experience in this town, they are wonderful, and the coffee is excellent!

I thought it might be a good idea to leave at that point, but the truth is, I didn’t want to. I went back downtown, later in the evening, but didn’t see much going on. I gassed up the van went back to Uptown.  Again, I got lost!  I figured I would play for another shift and then go.  I went to the corner I went to every night.  It had slowed down a little bit from the afternoon and it had got a little chilly. I can’t say enough about the people in this town. In addition the nice comments and people that had walked by, about 40 minutes into this shift, a young woman named Sarah came over to talk to me.  She had walked by earlier and tipped me and had a seat on a bench nearby.  We spoke for a few minutes and then she said “I try to do at least one nice thing a day, can I buy you dinner at The Rock?”  Grateful, I said “That would be awesome, thank you!”  The Rock is a great little restaurant with a little bit of everything and reasonably priced. Sarah treated me to a philly cheese steak with fries.  Which means I was able to save the other half of the sub I had for lunch until the next day!  We had a wonderful conversation.  She is a writer and she (like me) enjoys meeting new people and getting to know their story. She is from Jordan and wants to change her studies and possibly get into risk management. She also plays classical piano and every Friday, buys the homeless man a cup of coffee and has a conversation with him.  She had lots of questions as to how I came to do what I am doing. Afterwards, she ask if I could play a Frank Sinatra tune for her, so I did.  I also played an improv for her based on her. Then she left. I was grateful for the opportunity for conversation and the philly, thank you Sara! I gave a cd and as she left, I played another Frank Sinatra tune.  I stayed out for another 40 minutes, it was getting late and it was getting chilly, I wasn’t dressed for it this time so I packed it up. 

When I got to the van, I still didn’t really want to leave.  I really like this town.  I rolled in discouraged and a stranger, I left feeling very much renewed and a friend of this town. I can’t say thank you enough to the town and people of Normal Illinois, I hope to be back this way again, maybe after it warms up! 

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