Diary Of A Busker Day 576 Thursday June 19th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:38-6:23pm).
Since I got my new bike, I’ve been thinking about strapping the amp on the back and coming into town. The amp fits pretty well on the rack and there’s an elastic rope which stops it from falling off. I reckon I can put the stool, music book and stuff in the gigbag, and strap that on my back, which is how I’ve been carrying it for awhile, anyhow. But on the bike, it won’t be on my back for as long, which is good, so that’s what I do. The bucket was a bit of a problem, but I found I could stick it upside down on the end of the guitar and it would just fit in the case. In fact, I had to use the bigger gigbag as it wouldn’t fit in the one I’ve been using.
The only other problem was what to do with the coinage in the bucket after the set, when the bucket’s turned upside down! The coins will need to be transferred somewhere else. One solution is to dispense with the bucket and do what most everyone else does: put the gigbag open on the ground for people to chuck the money in. But wait a minute – the bucket’s my trademark! I can’t get rid of that! Anyway, I never liked the gigbag on the ground situation. It takes up alot of space…and everyone does it! So the bucket stays.
I make it into town OK, but I’ve just got to watch getting off the bike, as my leg seems to bash the amp which sticks out on either side. So, where to put the bike…I don’t want to lean it against the pillars at The Pentice, as it gets in the way of people trying to get to the shops behind me. And across the road seems too far away, although I’d be able to see it. I mean, I’m a bit paranoid about it being stolen. I need to keep my eye on it, it’s really nice. I decide to lock it up and lean it against the wall of the shop behind me.
After that’s all done, I can set up – without the bag the amp’s usually on, and start…but I find myself turning my head after every song to see if the bike’s still there – that’s how paranoid I am. It must be a natural reaction. Anyway, look what happened in Greenwich. That old bike was nicked practically under my eyes. The bastards.
So, to the session. There aren’t many about and I’m thinking there must be a football match on or something, but the money’s the same rate as normal. A man my age comes up after listening on the bench, contributes and asks if I’ve heard of Lenny Breau. I say I have – he was brilliant but all that stuff’s too difficult for me! The man says he himself’s a jazzy player and he’s really enjoyed listening to me. I hope he didn’t hear my attempt at Brazil. Definitely NOT jazzy.
At 5:58, after almost an hour and a half, Otto comes up. He hasn’t done that for awhile, although I’ve seen him around, off his face as usual. We passed on the street the other day, I said ‘Hello Otto’, but it didn’t register at all. So he plonks himself and his kitbag on the other side of the pillar I’m against and does the usual ‘Pley us some Chuck Berry’, which is pretty hard to do in the middle of the Yellow Bird/Wheels/The Third Man G-tuning section. But I think about it and think ‘what the hell, the guy’s got a shit life. I can do it and he’ll love it’. So I say I’ll do it just after I tune up…a minute later I switch on the treble pickup and do an approximation of the Johnny B. Goode intro…
…and then a Chuck Berry style two-string solo and he’s happy with that – ‘Marvin, you’re a genius!’ I say ‘No Otto, but Chuck Berry was’. For sure: his words were great, and how many guitar players have copied his style? – there must be thousands…and I’m not one of them! Otto gets up, thanks me again and says ‘I won’t hassle ye no more’, and wanders off…of course, 10 minutes later, he’s back – ‘Can ye pley Earth Angel?’ Well, I would have but I don’t know it. I know he’s said that one a few times before. So I say ‘I don’t know it, Otto, but I’ll look into it at home’.
I drag the session on, so it’s an hour and three quarters, then pack up. I empty the coinage in the bucket into one of the pockets in the gigbag (I’ll have to make sure to dig down deep and get everything out of the corners), unlock the bike, put the amp on the back and head off. I timed the trip back: 10 minutes, and that’s mostly uphill. But it cuts the journey time by half. I bet it was more like 8 minutes on the way in.