I drove into Birmingham around 9:30am and found a coffee shop to work in. I started talking to a man named Eric, who lives there, but he is moving to New York. He was very helpful with some information as to where I could play. Turns out, right outside of where I was. It was called, The 5 Points Corner. We got to talking and he was a great person. I told him what I am doing. He told me why he was moving to New York, for a job and his wife will be going to school there. I wish them the best of luck. He invited me to lunch after I found out what laws were. He didn’t know the laws about busking, so he pointed out an officer to me who was standing outside. I went to talk to her and she directed me to the officer in charge of that beat.
I went to talk to that officer, and he told me I needed a Peddler’s License. There have been problems with panhandling there. I felt we had a mutual respect for each other, so I said to him, “You are aware there is a difference between busking and panhandling?” He said, “Yes” then went on to tell me about another busker who was causing problems for the businesses there. I thanked him for his time and I was all set to go. I understood, and was okay with it. I was just going to the next city.
Then I hear his voice behind me, “What do you play?”
“You any good?”
“I am no Charlie Parker, but I can hold my own”
“Go get it and play for me” I think he was intrigued.
As always, I am just too happy to do that. I went to get Gilda, and played for him. Just a little improv bit for a couple of minutes. He gave me a thumbs up and said “Go ahead” He was a very cool officer, much like the other ones I have met. I had to put my stuff in the coffee shop away and get the rest of my gear. Eric reminded me of where he would be when I was done. It didn’t take long, I wailed for about 15 minutes and it started to rain. I packed up as quick as I could and I went to meet Eric. He was having lunch with his friend Ryan, also very cool. They are both play writes and very involved in theater. It was a treat to be having lunch with them. I enjoyed their conversation and they were interested in my story. I was very grateful for the lunch Eric bought me, I thought it was very generous of him. I gave him a cd in appreciation. I wish him and Ryan the best.
Though the rain had stopped, lunch was over and nobody was out and about. I only had until 3:00 anyway and it was almost 2:00. So I left for the next city. I changed my plans, and got to Memphis last night.
I am also grateful to the police officer for letting me play. Unfortunately, I didn’t get his name and it wasn’t for very long, but I am still happy for the opportunity.