One Man and His Horn: Harrisonburg and Knoxville, Again

When my brother-in-law, Ed and I were making an itinerary for this trip, we saw  Harrisonburg  was going to have a First Friday on October 7.  It didn’t start until 5:00pm. I arrived there around 9:00am. James Madison University is there and the campus is beautiful.  There were parts of the town where I thought I was back in the 70’s. As I found my way closer to the center of town, it was started looking more updated.  It was a nice little town.  I found myself a nice little coffee shop/bakery and asked the woman behind the counter some questions and got to work.  I started playing around 11:45 on a corner that I was told people gather at for lunch.  It was a beautiful day, so I figured it would be a good spot.  I was there for about 20 minutes and a group of 4 college girls gathered there.  They were all wearing pink and knitting – Katie, Amanda, Lauren and Shea.  They were planning to “Yarn Bomb” the Spring Fountain that night,  with the various items they were knitting for Breast Cancer Awareness.  I talked to and played for them for a little while and realized I needed to find a new spot.  I went on to the main street just up the street from a restaurant.  The restaurant had outdoor seating and looked like a fun place.  I hung out on that side walk for about two hours.  Passersby seemed to be intrigued.  I heard from two people that they had never seen anything like that in their city.  I thought that was cool.  Regrettably, I didn’t not stay in Harrisonburg for First Friday.  I left there just after 2pm.  Though I had some wonderful conversations with people there, I thought it would be a good idea to head back to Knoxville for First Friday there.

Now that it is Sunday, I kinda have mixed feelings about that.  I love playing in Knoxville, I was definitely going to be there for game day on Saturday, but I heard they had First Friday festivities there too.   I think I would have liked the First Friday in Harrisonburg.  This is the first time I left a place and thought, how nice it would have been to stay there.  Perhaps, I will pass through there again on another First Friday.

I went all the way back to Knoxville and started playing around 9pm.  I thought First Friday would be a lot of fun there.  Generally, it was. There was some African Drumming with fire poi, there was a movie in Market Square and lots of people out having a great time.   If I wasn’t  obsessed with getting out there and playing, I could have enjoyed that.  Instead, I saw that it took away most of the areas where I could play.  I found a spot though, and it was okay.  I did get to meet an interesting man known as Big Bob.  He came up and told me he liked my music and we talked for a minute.  He walked back and asked if he could play me a tune.  I said “Ya! That would be great!”  He plays a Jew’s Harp.  I remember them when I was a youngster, but I could never get a sound out of them.  Big Bob was great at it!  In fact while he was doing that, someone walked by and said, “He is the best twanger in town!”  I really enjoyed listening to him.  I stayed out there until around 10:30 and went back to my brother’s house.

The next day I  went back to Market Square around 3:30.  I stopped into Coffee and Chocolates for a coffee and on my way to my spot, I saw the magician I had seen when I was there five weeks prior.  I watched his act this time. His name was Harley Chapeau and he was good. He got the crowd involved and he was funny.  I talked with him after his show was over and he is heading out on a tour of his own to Florida in two weeks.  I don’t know what towns but I wish him the best.  I played my afternoon shift until 5:30.  I had been told, on game days, especially “big” games everyone wears the Tennessee orange color.  It is true, probably 90% do. They were playing  Georgia Saturday and I also saw quite a bit of the Georgia red that afternoon too.  It was the first time for me, really, to see college town rivalries in person.  Everybody is cool about it and it is just friendly competition, from what I saw.  There was definitely a high energy there though, it was cool!

I went back out at 6:15 and played until 9:00.  There were televisions showing the game at several of the restaurants in Market Square and every time Tennessee scored, a cannon went off.  That is when I would play “Rocky Top”  unfortunately, they lost.   The night shift was great, I received some wonderful comments and I did pretty well last night.  With the exception of  people who work in Market Square, I have not seen some of the people I have met in the past there, it would be cool if/when that happens.  On my out of there, in the park across the street, there were some people hanging out.  I had seen a group  there Friday night and even earlier that day.  I went over to talk ask them what it was all about, it was the Occupy Knoxville movement “We are the 99%”  I talked with them for a few minutes.  They were planning on spending the night in the park and getting ready for a march today (Sunday) apparently there are marches going on all over today at the same time.  I wish I could remember all of their names- there were two Jordans, Katie, Liz, Bill – Unfortunately, that is all I can remember.  They were all pretty cool people.

When I got back to my car, it was only 9:20, and I thought  for a few minutes.  I thought maybe I would go back out at 10pm to a different spot. I thought I might go hang out in the park.  I thought about a couple of things but I just decided to go to my brother’s house.  I really wasn’t feeling that great at the end of the night, so I just  went home and went to bed.


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