I arrived in El Paso on Friday, late in the afternoon. Traffic was hectic along I-10 going into the city. It was a beautiful day along the second half of the drive. I came out of that nasty cold weather into a cloudless sky and warmer temps. I was very happy to finally be in El Paso. A few days earlier I had sent an email to the Artist’s Market Director about being able to play there on Saturday. I received a response on Friday afternoon and told I would be there at 9am. At 11:00 the scheduled buskers were going to be there. I had the first 2 hours.
Again with the cold, windy awful weather. I chose the route I chose because it is in the southwest. The people at the Artist’s Market even told me, it is never like this until maybe late January. I mean everyone was bundled up. For the first hour or so, there weren’t many people there- probably because of the weather- some of the vendors came over to see me and say hi, everyone made me feel quite welcome. Shortly after I started; a vendor, Christine, came over and gave me a button. She is an artist whose boyfriend also plays the saxophone. He inspires some of art work. The button was a print of one of her works of him. It was very sweet! Another vendor gave me a coffee when I could no longer feel my fingers. In between songs I warmed up my hands as best as I could. I was wearing finger less gloves, so my fingers felt like glass. I was invited to play over by a table where it wasn’t quite so windy. It was Christine’s table, her friend Bonnie and Bonnie’s Dad, Ruben were there. I want to tell you I lasted the two hours. I couldn’t do it, after just over an hour and a half, I couldn’t feel the keys or my fingers moving. I know it sounds like I am whining, but it was 26 degrees. I wanted to hang out there for a little while though. I put my gear away, put on another layer and got my good gloves on.
I wound up hanging out at Christine and Bonnie Ruben’s table. I wanted to hear the other buskers. They were pretty good, it was a band of four, an Irish band with a Spanish name, The San Patricios- The St. Patrick’s- I liked it! While I was hanging out checking out their table, and talking to Christine about her work, she actually gave me a signed print of “That Sax Guy” That is the name of the series which he inspired in her. I wanted some coffee and Bonnie took to where it was and we skipped a little bit, like the Wizard of Oz, to try to warm up. It didn’t last long, I don’t even think I was skipping right, anyway…I try not to be negative, but my coffee was lukewarm, at best. They sell hot fresh corn and they dress it up with cheese(I don’t know what kind), spices, hot sauce and butter. Bonnie got that, apparently it was delicious. I was talking with Ruben for a bit. He is a healer and he gave me some tea to try. Before I even got my first coffee there, he said to me, “You drink too much coffee.” Told me I lack a lot of minerals the tea will help to replenish them. I looked around at the other stuff. It was a pretty cool market. They have stuff from jewelry, to paintings, handmade wooden flutes and even some other hand made goods such as jams and stuff like that. They broke down there display early because it really was very hard to stay warm. I was invited to lunch, with Christine and Bonnie. We went to an Indian place Bonnie used to work at and had the buffet, it was quite good.
After lunch, they went off to paint a mural with the Art Club for a Women’s Center. The sun had come out and it warmed up a little. I went back downtown, to San Antonio Ave and got to work. I played about 90 minutes again. Apparently, the spot I was at was the beginning of the Christmas Parade Festival of Lights. I put my gear away again and wanted to warm up some, before I went back to watch the Parade. I got myself another coffee and for the second time that day, it was lukewarm. I got back before the Parade started and met a man named Mike. He was there with his family, his son was in the parade. I hung out with him and talked during the Parade. He was a very nice man. He asked, so I told him what I doing. He was the second person that day to tell me all of the awesomeness about El Paso. The Parade was well over an hour long, it was great! There were many floats that played “Feliz Navidad” I said “That is a popular song here, I have always liked this tune!” Mike said, “You can’t have Christmas in El Paso without Jose Feliciano!” After the Parade, there were fireworks. I couldn’t stay outside for those. I went to the coffee shop to warm up again. By the time I got to the Pearl, I could hear them, but could not see them. I did some work and I called it a night.
I will say everyone I have met here is super cool and very welcoming. It makes for a nicer stay in the city I am in.
P.S. I have to find my way to Rosa’a Cantina before I leave this town!