Diary Of A Busker Day 298 Saturday, October 20th, 2012 Winchester High Street Opposite Bellis, Time: 3:45-4:13pm
Jay, the young headband-wearing busker who runs the open-mic at The Willow is sitting with his guitar on the bench near The Buttercross. I ask if he’s going to play – he’s not, so I set up. After a bit, I notice Barry – the same Barry who recently and rather rudely, I thought, collapsed and was bleeding next to me – sitting on the same bench. I’ve seen him about, once or twice since the incident but he hasn’t spoken to me. He probably doesn’t remember! However, today he comes up to me after Apache and says, ‘I was going to do the walk, you know.’ ‘What’s that, Barry?’ ‘The walk…The Shadows…what they all used to do.’ ‘Oh right.’ Yes, he’s forgotten about it or he’s too ashamed to mention it!
Jay wants to play a song on my guitar. He seems a nice guy so I say he can, after I finish the Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring/Black Mountain Rag medley and tune up to normal tuning. Money-wise, I’m doing a bit better than most days; there are a lot of young kids out with their parents, although most of them are given shrapnel to give me. This is something that winds me up, no end, because all the parents want to do is get the kids to stop pestering them, but that’s really bad; give the kid the lowest currency to give to the guy with the guitar. What kind of example is that to set to the young generation? Don’t give the guy anything worth something – give him something worthless. A few kids are given some silver, which is a bit more acceptable. I think Jay’s noticed the amount of kids with their coins, although perhaps not the denomination, as I think he now wants to do a proper session. He asks me how long I’ll be; not more than 15 minutes, I say, as that will take me to an hour. Anyway, he has a go…and it’s Albatross. Hey, he’s been taking notes! He plays it pretty well and someone says, ‘Is he your protege?’ When Jay’s done, I tell him he did well and offer a tip; he can keep the low E going all the time. ‘Yeah, I’m just crap!’ he says. He’s not, I tell him.
Just then, a woman who was watching from the bench, puts a coin in. I was going to give it to Jay but I forgot! I’m sure it was meant for me, anyway…I think.
A bunch of young guys who are Spanish, I think, watch me during When I’m Sixty-Four and at the end one asks if I know any Tommy Emmanuel. Weirdly enough, or maybe just coincidentally, I’ve been doing – or trying to do – his Guitar Boogie Shuffle arrangement at home. Even more weird: while taking a break from a T. E. youtube tuition, I got an email (how I loathe these American-isms, why can’t it be an ePOST?) from Claes Neeb, the guitar player my two Norwegian acquaintances mentioned. Anyway, they told Claes about this guy (me) they met in England who played fingerstyle and sent him their video of me doing The Third Man. Well, Claes sent me a message and in it, he pays me a couple of compliments, which is incredible! In fact, it was only after I read his message when I found a great video of him playing with the great man himself, Chet Atkins! I couldn’t believe it – a compliment from a guy who’s played with the greatest! I was thinking of mentioning all this to the Spanish guy but decided not to, as they might not have heard of Claes. After all, I hadn’t until a few days ago.
Anyway, I attempt Guitar Boogie Shuffle but it’s not very good. In fact it’s awful and I need to practice it a lot more but not out here. A bloke who’s been standing the other side of the pillar I’m next to, starts talking about I’ll See You In My Dreams; the song Joe Brown did at the concert for George Harrison. Can I do that one? No but I can do While My Guitar Gently Weeps, though – ‘is that near enough to George Harrison?’ ‘Yeah, great!’ So I do it…but he doesn’t contribute. Hey, that’s a request! The requester should always contribute if I can honour a request…surely? But, no, it’s, ‘Great, thanks,’ and he walks off. Not uncommon, though. Near the end, Doll turned up and sat on the bench and noticed there were quite a few who stood around for a long time, listening, but then walked off without donating. She thinks it’s really rude. I agree. Rude and bloody uncouth. Despite that, a good day; 1 1/2 hours with above the hourly average.
Earnings: £34.29 (and two euro coins: a 20 cent and a 10 cent) + 2 CDs
The letter from Claes Neeb, now framed on the wall in the front room;
I heard some of my close friends quite accidentally stumbled upon you
in Winchester a little while ago so I just wanted to say hello. They were
impressed by your pickin’, and believe me, they know all about this style.
I had a look at Bjorn’s video and you impressed me too. You’ve got a
great touch, tone and a good groove, and you play emotionally like a
real musician should do. Those aspects were really the only things that
mattered to Chet too. His technique was only a tool to be able to
express himself, and he sure did. Even Tommy (Emmanuel) says
he is not even close to being able to do some of the things Chet did
in the late fifties/early sixties. He is still our master, and Tommy
always remembers to give him all the credit he deserves.
Again, great pickin’, and it was nice getting to know about you.
All the best,