Fayetteville, AR

I got into Fayetteville on Friday in the early evening.  Right away a found a spot to play.  What took a while was finding a parking space close enough.  That seems to be a challenge at least 50% of the time.  Finally, I just parked in the lot next to the corner, it turns out the fees were the same as the street,plus it was right there.  I got started immediately and thought at first I was on the wrong side of the street.  I stuck with it though.  There was plenty of traffic and people seemed to be enjoying it.  About 15 minutes into the shift a young woman named Silna stopped and asked if I minded if she sat for a while.  I said, “of course not, stay as long as you like”  She liked the tunes I was playing she knew some of them.  I played an improve tune, again,based on her, she didn’t know it though.  When I was done, she said “I really like that one”  I told her what it was and she was surprised and smiled.  I could see there was something up, but she didn’t want to discuss it.  So I said “Perhaps the sweet sounds of the saxophone will make everything better”  So she stayed and listened for almost the rest of the shift. During that time, a young man named Alex stopped and hung out for a while. We had had some interesting conversation and he was digging what I was doing.  He was a nice man who had a reall appreciation for music.  After a while, and some requests and some demonstrations, he had to go.  It was getting a little chilly so I gave Silna my fleece, as I had a sweater on also.  She eventually had to go too.  A gave them each a cd before they left,  I enjoyed the fact they hung around for a while.  

I took a break and got some coffee about twenty minutes later as I had just played 90 minutes, and I wanted to warm up.  When I went back out, this time across the street, it had got a little colder.  It wasn’t as busy as I thought it might be.  I found out the next day, there was a homecoming game at the college that night.  I stayed out there for about an hour called it a night.

The next day, I found my way up to the Farmer’s Market at the town Square.  Often buskers are not allowed to be near a Farmer’s Market.  I just wanted to walk through to kill some time before I went back to Dickson St.  Well, I found out real quick busking is allowed at the Farmer’s Market.  All one has to do is check with the market manager, just to make sure there aren’t too many. So I did.  I was able to secure a corner and I went right to work.  Unfortunately, 10 minutes later, it started to rain!  It is times like this, I wish I played the trumpet 😉  (Just Kidding)  It rained for a while and the Market was over, so it was time to go to Dickson/

I got to the same corner and I played a solid 90 minutes.  During that time, I met a man named Bob and he was carrying a mandolin that he and his father made together. He is trying to learn as much from his dad as he can. It was a beautiful looking mandolin and from what little strumming he was doing while were talking, sounded equally beautiful. He was on a break from the studio with his band and he was just walking around killing time.  We talked for a little bit and while we were talking, another busker set up on the corner diagonally across the street.  He was a youngster who was playing the bagpipes.  I don’t know how to proceed without sounding critical or like a jerk- but it was the worst bagpiping I have ever heard.  I was shocked he was even out there.  Although, there was a huge part of me that respected the guts he had to be out there.  At his age I never would have done it.  Bob left and I got back to work, it was a horrible clash of instruments.  I didn’t know exactly what to do, I was feeling like a jerk blasting as loud as I could over the kid- but I hey, I was there first.  Then I rethought, and I sat out for a bit and let him do his thing.  While I was doing that a man came over telling me he really enjoyed my music while he was having lunch on the balcony.  He gave me a nice tip and I thanked him and I gave him a cd.   I played a couple more tunes and this kid just wasn’t going away.  So I sat out for a couple more minutes.  Another young man, named Danny, came over to talk to me.  He thought I was somebody else, but it didn’t matter, we clicked almost instantly.  He hung out for the rest of my shift.  I got back to playing and the kid packed it.  

The kid came across the street and walked right up to me and introduced himself.  His name was Devon.  I couldn’t believe how outgoing this kid was.  He told us it was his first time street performing and he was happy, he made a lot of money.  When I asked how old he was he said 14.  Now I was really feeling like a bit of a heel.  But I did have a lot of respect for him.  He then asked if I knew Amazing Grace.  I said I did, and he wanted to play it with me.  We started, got about 2 measures into it and it wasn’t gelling. I kept getting mixed up with all of the grace notes, anyway…..  So he said he was going to get back at it.  Danny spoke up and gave a word of advice, as far as etiquette. He told him about maintaining a proper distance between buskers.  He did it nicely too, I wanted to do it nicely but sometimes my tone comes out wrong and I don’t mean it to.  I was glad Danny was there.  Off he went to keep at it. 

When my shift was over, Danny offered to buy me a beer.  I took him up on it and we went to a place and hung out there for a little while.  He is also a musician and he is heading to Austin.  He should be there when I get there.  It will be good to see him there too.  He went off to buy some guitar strings and I went back to work.  A little while later, he showed up with his guitar and we played one tiny little jam together.  It was the first time in a long time, I played with an acoustic and I liked the way it sounded.  Another man named, Ben, came over and hung out for a while.  Danny played one of his tunes and it sounded pretty good!  For a little while there was a few of us on this corner, Danny’s guitar was getting passed around and somebody else a played a tune.  Ben hung out for a long time, he loves music and especially the saxophone.  He was around for almost the entire shift, long after Danny left.  We had some conversation in between tunes.  The Moon finally came out from behind the clouds, but even before that, Ben had commented on the “high energy” that was out that night.  Ben asked me what tune I had played and I told him, “it was an improv for the Moon.”  She was so beautiful, I had to serenade her!  I wish had a recording of that, Ben said he loved it!  After a while, he left, I played for a another 30 or so minutes and hadn’t seen a tip in a while, so I packed it up and called it a night.

Fayetteville is also a friendly city, no busking permits are necessary.  The people are nice and certainly conversational. As cool as the interactions with the people I had were, I wasn’t really getting a lot in the way of tips despite the traffic that was out.  The people who did tip, tipped nicely.  I am grateful to the town of Fayetteville for that and also the new friendships I may have made there.  I would definitely come through this town again!

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