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2012

Alright, so I believe that this will be the last blog entry for a couple months.  I’ve had one hell of a year, and I think New Years is a good stopping point for the moment.  I may pick up the torch again in a couple months, but until then I’ve got some things to figure out and some ideas to follow through.  I want to thank everybody who has been reading this at all over the last eight months; I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my travels as much as I’ve enjoyed doing the traveling.  If you’re subscribed to this blog, you’ll automatically get a notification when I start posting again this Spring, but otherwise feel free to follow my show dates and listen for new music at http://www.reverbnation.com/ansonkrekeler.  I’ve also got some music available to purchase online at http://ansonkrekeler.bandcamp.com/album/orange-coastline, in case you’d like an album and I’m not in your city.  I’m always interested in feedback and communication, so if you send me an email, I’ll be sure to respond.  My email is anson8504@gmail.com  Once again, thanks for being part of the journey, and hopefully I can take you along for the next chapter.

-anson

When I got back to Los Angeles I decided to try my luck playing on Venice Beach, so I brought my guitar and walked up and down the boardwalk scoping out a place to set up.  It was a beautiful Tuesday afternoon, and the whole area was packed.  The length of the boardwalk is marked on one side in rectangular sections for vendors to set up and sell their goods, and the city of Venice makes money by selling permits to utilize these spots.  Even some musicians go the extra mile and get a permit so that they have a solid place to set up, and in Venice there is no rule against amplified music.  As a result, its not uncommon to find musicians with full PA systems, sometimes just jamming along with music that they have playing through their speakers.  On that day there was a guy who played an electric violin, and he did just that; played live violin over some pre-recorded tracks.  He was pretty damn good too, and I’m always intrigued by a “bodiless” instrument, so I watched for a song or two and threw him a dollar.

As I walked down the boardwalk, I didn’t find a single spot that didn’t have a vendor already set up, so I decided to move closer to the ocean and just practice some newer songs.  I found a comfortable spot near a bike path and pulled out the guitar, and even though the guitar case was closed, I had a little fourish-year-old girl walk up and hand me a dollar right after the first song, and her mother smiled at me as I thanked her.  I turned around and there was a twenty-something girl with two beautiful dogs behind me, who was smiling about the unexpected tip.  We talked for a minute while I met her puppy dogs and then I looked back at the beach and played another song.  When I finished, she turned to me and told me that she is a singer, and she offered to have me come in and play a song or two at her show the following night.  I told her I’d be happy to play some music, so the next night I walked into Danny’s Deli with a guitar, and she ran up to give me a huge hug.  It turned out that she was a jazz singer, and that her band was made up of four badass musicians; stand up bass, drums/brushes, piano, and an assortment of trumpets.  They played all sorts of jazz standards, and she had one hell of a voice to add to the mix.  The show went from 7-10pm, and I played three or four songs at the first set break and then two more during the second break.  I hung out with some of her friends at a booth in the front, and then afterwards I met the band and a couple other good people.  Needless to say, I had a good time hanging out on a Wednesday night, and then suddenly it was becoming New Years weekend.

After my two day stint along the beach I headed back to Pasadena, which I’ve always maintained is some kind of blend between California and the midwest.  There are a bunch of deciduous trees like oaks and maples providing lots of shade, but there are also streets that are lined with palm trees and other semi-tropical plants.  Its a pretty relaxed place, and Old Town Pasadena is a great place to set up and play music on the street.  Anyway, I headed there to visit with a friend, and I ended up staying at his place for the whole weekend, taking several trips to electronic music and art shows, and many more trips to the grocery store to keep the red wine flowing..

On Thursday night I didn’t do anything spectacular; we just hung out with some Pinot Noir and listened to music at the house, and it was quite nice.  It was probably necessary considering the craziness that ensued the following evening.  It was still a late night, but it was pretty relaxed.  On the last Friday of the year, we all became part of a posse that went downtown to see a band called Beats Antique in a show put on by the Do Lab.  The Do Lab is a performance based art and music production company that focuses on electronic music and does a great job incorporating several forms of artistic expression.  In this case there were several artists set up along one side of the venue creating “live art” as music was being performed on stage, not to mention the stage show which included a whole dancing troupe.  There was one artist who was featured on one side of the stage while Beats Antique was performing, and to watch him add layers and re-create his painting in a different color scheme with the music was mesmerizing.  Do Lab pulled out all the kicks though; a light show, belly dancing, all sorts of incredible costumes and choreography, and then they topped it all off with an explosion of confetti.  It was more than just three musicians up on stage playing their music, it was an all out performance.  If you want to check out Beats Antique and some of their music, they’ve got some stuff posted at www.beatsantique.com/

Because it was New Years weekend, there were tons of people that got all dressed up for the show; sparkling make-up, full on costumes, capes, hats, light up swords- it was awesome.  The show was packed, and you couldn’t help but dance because the whole crowd was moving; a typical side effect of rhythm heavy dance music.  I saw a bunch of friends that I hadn’t seen in years, and it was my official introduction to a scene that I knew very little about.  It was definitely a good Friday night, and when we got back to the house we had some leftover wine..

After all that craziness on Friday, a rather quiet New Years was in order.  I went with two friends to a small warehouse in Santa Monica to see the Earth Harp and a piece of performance art called Phadroid..  Each of these will require a bit of an explanation, but I can assure you that they were both amazing, and perfect for a laid back evening.  The Earth Harp is an instrument that was created by William Close, who is also the founder of the MASS Ensemble.  He specializes in designing unconventional instruments that utilize the environment to influence the sounds created.  The Earth Harp, for instance, was originally designed to stretch across a valley and use the lay of the land as the acoustic amplification, much the way the body of an acoustic guitar is used to amplify the vibrations of the strings.  It is the largest stringed instrument in the world, with strings that stretch for more than 1000 feet.  The instrument is played by using resin coated gloves, and dragging the hand along a given string to create vibrations and produce a sound much akin to that of a cello, except much deeper.  In this case, the show was in the inventor’s art studio, so the art installation was stretched from one side of the warehouse to the other, and the audience sat under the strings, thus taking an active role as part of the instrument’s amplification.  It was a really neat concept.  He had other models of instruments he had created lining the walls, as well as a few pre-cursers to the current Earth Harp.  If you’d like to read more about this awesome instrument, you can check it out at http://earthharp.wordpress.com/about/

The other featured art installation that night was like candy for the eyes.  It was created by Android Jones and his wife Phaedra, hence the name: Android + Phaedra = Phadroid.  The concept was rather interesting; Phaedra dressed up wearing all white, including a white dress and shawl, and a white mask to cover her face entirely, and then she danced to mellow electronic music in front of a white wall.  In the mean time, her husband was near a projector, and he would control the projections of all sorts of kaleidoscopic designs onto the wall in conjunction with the music, and Phaedra would melt into the projections as she danced.  At first I thought the projections were was similar to a screen saver, based on algorithms and other trends in the music, but then I realized that Android was literally standing by the projector with a pad, manually adjusting the projected image to adapt to how his wife was dancing.  It was fascinating.  At one point there was a concentration of white light on the wall about the size of a softball, and it seemed as if she was holding it in her hands.  As she raised her hands above her head gracefully in dance, the ball of light followed, and when the music hit a changing point she “threw it down” and the projections got crazy and colorful again.  It was like a living, breathing piece of art.  It was a really neat thing to see played out in front of us, and the pillows and beanbags throughout the warehouse made for a really comfortable atmosphere.

The rest of the weekend was spent mostly just hanging out, although we did go on a short hike and made a stop at Griffith Observatory to catch an awesome view of Los Angeles.  Also we made a trip downtown to visit a friend at the bar where he works, and somehow we all stuffed ourselves beyond our capacities with extremely greasy food.  I guess my stomach has built up a bit of an immunity from so much McDonald’s, but even I was feeling pretty rough, and the other two friends I had come with were just dying.. We went back to Pasadena and nursed our tummyaches and then called it a fairly early night, my first early night in a couple weeks.  It was necessary though; the next day I had an interview with a music production company for a an internship position and I didn’t want to be completely drained.

I got dropped off at the train station and worked my way into Hollywood, and then had an interview with a guy from Kick-Mix Productions.  The whole company is owned by a guy who goes by DJ Kick-Mix, and he’s been working in the industry since he was about fifteen.  They own a lot of sound, stage and lighting equipment, and they’ve been concentrating on the event production aspect of the company for the last several years, but now the owner wants to concentrate on his career as a DJ.  Translated, that means he wants to start touring, and with my recent experiences touring the whole western US, I was offered the intern position before the interview was even over.  It’s an unpaid internship, but it’s a good way to get my foot in the door, and it looks good on a resume when it comes to applying elsewhere.  Basically my job is to do exactly what I’ve been doing since last year: doing research on venues, booking, etc, and to create a database from which to work.  The only difference is that this time the focus is on nightclubs and other venues where a DJ might be necessary, as opposed to restaurants and coffee shops where an acoustic guitar fits a little better.  So as a result I spend four hours a week hanging out in an awesome building, listening to music and doing research.  I’m not sure what the long term plans are, but I’ve been actively searching for a job as well, and given a little time, I’m sure something’ll come together..  But in the mean time I’m keepin’ my tummy full with a little help from a guitar..  Til the Spring..

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Christmas in Vegas

So the final show of 2011 went splendidly, and I was served drinks by one of the cutest bartenders I’ve ever seen in my life.  I played an early set at the Good Hurt in Venice, California, and I was rather surprised at the turnout.  I was running terribly late on my way there, and the typical LA traffic didn’t make things any easier for me.  I got to the bar at 7:58pm for an 8:00pm set time, but to my surprise, the door was locked when I got there.  I knocked on the big metal door and the sound guy came and let me in, asking me what time I was supposed to play.  When I told him, he looked at his watch and quickly told another guy to open the door and man his post.  One other girl walked in while we were sound checking, and I thought that this might be the extent of the audience, and that would have been alright.  Instead, I was told we were going to push back the whole night by about twenty minutes, and by the time I was up on stage playing we were up to around twenty people in the audience.  I didn’t know anyone when the night started, but by the end of the night I had made some new friends and I was invited to sit in with a harmonica on a show the following week.  Unfortunately I was already committed to be out of town for the week, but with any luck there’ll be several opportunities in the new year.

So I opened the night with a solo acoustic set, and then a very pretty girl played another acoustic set with some crazy guitar stylings.  She reminded me of John Butler, who is a badass guitarist, and she mentioned on stage that she is a huge fan of Richie Havens; it came through.  She had some solid rhythms and a really strong voice, and afterward we traded CDs and agreed to keep in touch to help book shows together.  Having a network of musicians or bands to work with results in sort of a “slinky effect,” which is beneficial for everyone.  It helps tremendously when it comes to booking shows, cause it creates something like a collective foot in the door at any given venue, and then things generally open up from there.  Anyway, she was great and I’d love to play another show with her sometime.

There was one more acoustic act before the amplifiers came into play, this time a duo with two guitars.  I had talked with the two guys that were playing, but I didn’t realize that they were on the bill for the evening until they got up on stage.  They played original stuff that had heavy influence from the grunge movement in the 90’s, very akin to Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots.  They told me it was their first official show, but I wouldn’t have known it otherwise because they had their music pretty well together.  When they finished their set, I ended up hanging out and drinking with them for the rest of the night while the other bands played.

The other bands were pretty good, and it was a good follow up to the acoustic start of the night.  The first band was called See Green, and it was basically one girl singing and playing guitar with a whole myriad of instruments around her.  There was a total of six people in the band, including two keyboardists, a drummer, bassist, and another guy on lead guitar, plus the girl that was singing.  They had a style that’s really kind of tough to define, but imagine what it might be like if No Doubt ran into the B-52s and created a dance album.  Their live show was pretty great, and of course it never hurts for a band to have a beautiful singer in a cute dress.  By the time they hit the stage, there were at least forty or fifty people in the bar, and I now had to fight for the attention of the cute bartender.  I really didn’t mind though; the drinks were free.

The next band was called Man + Robot, and they also had a female vocalist and another girl who played guitar.  It was a four piece traditional rock band: bass, drums, guitar and  vocals, and they played something a little like Soundgarden: with firm roots in alternative rock.  I enjoyed their set, but it was the band before them that really hit the spot for me.  When they finished playing, the bar started to clear out, so I said goodbye to the beautiful bartender and headed back to the van.  I hadn’t really drank all that much, so I decided to hit the highway while there was no traffic and get to the outskirts of the city.  My plans for Friday included a fourteen hour drive to Park City, Utah, and I didn’t want to start out the drive with heavy traffic.

The reason for the detour to Utah is simple: I was offered an opportunity to go skiing with my family.  My immediate family is made up of a bunch of skiers, and in fact my brother is a Ski Technician, so every couple years they try and put together a ski trip.  This year they went to Park City, and thats not an entirely unreasonable distance from LA, so I added four more states to my 2011 adventures and got in a couple good days of skiing.

Unfortunately, I had a huge wipeout while I was in Utah, which is to say, I stubbed my toe on a bed frame and broke my pinky toe.  I did it with socks on, and although it hurt, I thought I had just stubbed my toe like any other time that’s happened in the past.  But when I took my sock off, my toe was pointed off to the side in a very unnatural way, and it was obvious that something was wrong.  I thought I had maybe just dislocated it somehow, and that if I played with it a little, maybe it would just pop back into place.  My brother and my dad joined in the game, and they took turns pulling on my toe, trying to get it to look normal again.  After a little while of this, we decided I should go to an urgent care clinic and have a professional look at it.  So we jumped in the car and found a place, and the doctor was actually really cool.  He was a skier, and after taking an X-ray and telling me it was definitely broken, he said I could still ski if I wanted to because I surely couldn’t break it again.  He gave me this special boot, and as he explained, it bears much resemblance to a ski boot in the support that it gives the foot, so if I could take the pain of skiing on a broken toe then there was nothing to stop me from doing so.

So I gave my foot a day to rest, and then hit the slopes the following day.  It was a pretty light year in terms of snowfall in Utah, but I had a blast skiing and hanging out with the family all week.  And then come the end of the week I inherited all the leftovers from the trip, which means that I was sent off with all sorts of stuff, including sweet potatoes, vodka, and a couple cans of Skyline Chili!!  (If you’ve never had Skyline, I highly suggest that you track some down..)  The drive back was pretty relaxed, except that I stopped in Las Vegas for Christmas Eve, and that was a zoo in itself.  I’d never been to Vegas, and my directions took me right through the city on my way back to LA, so I thought what the hell, I might as well stop and see what it’s all about.  I got there in the early afternoon of the 24th, and immediately took the guitar and set up shop on the Vegas Strip.  I was surprised at how packed the city was, and even more surprised that I was able to find free parking.  I made about forty bucks in two and a half hours, and then dropped the guitar back at the van before exploring the casinos on the strip.  I was still wearing pajama pants and a big funny boot for my toe, but nobody looked at me sideways; I don’t think I looked half as ridiculous as the three hundred pound black man dressed as a sugarplum fairy, dancing his heart out at the entrance of a casino.  In any case, he definitely made me smile.

I wandered around the strip for several hours on Christmas Eve, and although I didn’t know a soul, I certainly didn’t feel alone- I’d never seen so many people in my life.  On the other hand, I’ve never been to New York either. Anyway, Vegas is wonderful place to people watch, and I was completely taken aback by all the money that was put into the buildings to make them ritzy and lavish.  The inside of the Paris Casino had a ceiling that was painted like the sky, another place had sixty-foot tall chandelier, and the fountains outside of Caesar’s Palace shot water more than forty feet up in the air in sync with Christmas music, and as a result people gathered around the fountain all night.  I did gamble a little bit, and I guess you could say that my experience was typical.  I took twenty bucks to a poker table, doubled my money, and then even cashed out while I was ahead.  Unfortunately, I went back to the poker table a little later and lost everything that I had won.  I thought about digging into some more of the money I had earned while playing on the street, but realized that it might start an endless cycle, at the end of which I might be stranded in Vegas.  So instead I got some dinner and then just walked around for  a couple hours, taking in all the colors and characters that Vegas has to offer on Christmas Eve.

I didn’t make it back to the van until after midnight, and although I had planned to leave the city, I just ended up staying in the parking lot overnight and getting a solid breakfast from a casino in the morning.  I found it kind of interesting that food was cheap, and that parking was free, but then I realized that the city probably just counts on people losing their money at the casinos, so they can afford to provide those things for cheap.  Anyway, I had a blast, and a slightly unconventional Christmas to say the least.  After breakfast, I meandered around the strip for another little while and then drove most of the way back to LA.  I made a stop in Redlands to see a friend from Cincinnati, and we hit up an open mic on the 26th.  It was actually a pretty packed bar at a place called the Underground, which was literally underground.  It reminded me of a restaurant atmosphere; reddish orange carpet, tables throughout the room, lingering christmas decorations on the walls.  There must have been at least eighty people there, if not more, but the sign up list for the open mic had only a handful of names on it, so although I signed up in spot number four, I was the first to get up and play.  It was odd because the way the speakers were set up, I couldn’t hear myself very well from the stage.  I played four or five songs though, and then a couple people later the friend I came to visit got up and played a couple songs as well.  It was her first time performing at an open mic, so it was a big step for her.  I’m not gonna lie, it must have been intimidating; there were a lot of drunk and loud people in the bar, but I thought she did great.  Anyway, we continued hanging out and hopped to another bar, and when it came time for last call, I decided to just make the rest of the drive to LA.  It was only about an hour drive or so, and it went pretty fast since there was no traffic on the highway at 2:30 in the morning.  I made it there and then found a good parking spot, and the next day I hit the beach again.  Chillin’ at the beach led me into a couple other opportunities, but I’ll get to those later..

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“It doesn’t rain in Los Angeles”

On Monday morning I woke up early and headed north into the redwoods.  I had talked to a guy about doing some landscaping and clean up, and had a meeting with him at 9:30AM to check out the job.  I had no idea that he lived in the middle of the woods, but it was awesome back there.  The house is really only twelve miles from Santa Cruz, but with all the curvy roads and stuff, it was about a forty minute drive.  He lived off of a one lane road that wound through the woods and up into the mountains and reminded me of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  When I got there I gave him a call, and he came out and told me that the windstorm the week before had wreaked all sorts of havoc on his property, and he basically needed someone to help clean it all up.  The wind had taken down a huge oak tree and dropped it in his driveway, blew off tarps, plants, tools, and rolled a huge tree stump right through his courtyard and broke down a section of the fence on the other side.  We agreed that I would be paid in food from Safeway, which is apparently what he does more often than not when it comes to hiring people.  He said he has a housekeeper that comes and cleans each week in exchange for groceries as well.

He had a couple guys coming to take care of the tree, and so for cleaning up; getting rid of branches, raking, sweeping vacuuming, folding tarps, etc., I would basically be paid with $400 worth of groceries that would be delivered to his door.  I thought that wasn’t such a bad deal, since the job would normally only pay me around $150 in cash.  So I worked for two days on the property, and actually spent the night on his couch at the end of the first day.  It was a mess outside, and it took some time to put things back together, but the job conditions were pretty good overall.  During the day he’d bring out cold beer for whomever was working, and all day he’d blast Pink Floyd and live Neil Young through his house system.  It was a decent job for a couple days, and I really enjoyed being way up in the hills, surrounded by giant redwoods.  He said Neil Young also has a small ranch about twenty miles from his place, tucked back in the woods as well.  When it came to ordering food online, I wasn’t sure where to start.  I made a grocery list, but I think I went about it in the wrong order.  I should have probably started with the most expensive items and then worked my way down to snacks and such, but instead I started with Campbell’s Chunky Soup and soon ended up with a whole lot of cheezy-type snack food.  I did stock up on a bunch of other essentials like toilet paper, batteries, cold medicine, rice and pasta, and Kahlua, but I’ve got more potato chips than I know what to do with.

I hung out in Santa Cruz for the next several days, played on Pacific Avenue throughout most of the weekend, and then hit the road for Los Angeles on Sunday morning.  I took the coastal route, which means I made a stop in Monteray for a couple hours, not to mention a dozen other stops at various viewpoints along the PCH.  When I woke up on Sunday it was cloudy and threatening to rain in Santa Cruz, and I thought maybe if I headed south that I could avoid the rain.  It sort of worked that way; I went in and out of rain patches for most of the drive, but finally found some solid sunlight in Ventura, just before sunset.  I had reached the outskirts of LA, and I had no pressing plans for the evening, so I decided to stay the night there and then go into the city the following day.  When I woke up on Monday though, it was pouring down rain.  Rain is rare in Los Angles, but it certainly exists.  I had one hell of a time motivating myself to get out of bed and get moving, but eventually I crawled out from under my pile of blankets.  I got some breakfast and started looking for temporary jobs; I figure I’ll be in this area for a couple months and some steady work might do me good, not to mention my bank account.  So far I’ve found a bunch of leads, sent off emails and left messages, and we’ll see where it all takes me.  I’ve got to go through some things tomorrow and clean out the van, but tomorrow it isn’t supposed to be nearly as dismal outside.  Today I stopped at a place with industrial vacuums, but it was pouring out, so I decided to push off that task until brighter weather.

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The Ugly Mug

So I think I left off with a bowl of spaghetti at Joe’s Pizza sometime last week.  Sure enough, I was able to finish that spaghetti, and ended up hanging out there until around eight or nine in the evening.  After dinner, I headed back to the van to find that I had a pink parking ticket tucked under my windshield wiper.  I had moved the car several times throughout the day so that I could avoid such a dilemma, and when I looked at the parking signs and compared them with the ticket I realized that I had done nothing wrong, so I’ll be fighting that ticket.  It was already dark, but I pulled out the camera and took pictures of the van and the parking signs from various places on the street.  Basically the sign said that it was a two-hour parking zone until 8pm, unless you had a permit, and that parking from midnight to 6am was prohibited.  Well, I had moved the van to this spot at around 6:15, figuring that I wouldn’t have to move it again until midnight, should I so choose.  When I got back to the van, the parking citation was time stamped at 6:40pm and said that I had no visible permit, which is true, but not against the parking laws.  So I’m not too worried; I followed the directions on the back and filed a written dispute for the parking ticket, and I’ll soon find out how they handle it.  Other than that, it was a pretty good day overall; with the farmers market, drum circle and a ton of spaghetti and garlic bread.

Thursday I went to the beach.  I figured my voice could use a rest, and I had a show at a place called The Ugly Mug later in the evening, so I just wanted to take it easy all day.  I did just that, and stopped at a pull off along the coast where there was a small surfing museum and a whole slew of people with wetsuits and surf boards.  I walked out onto a cliff that overlooked the ocean and spent hours out there; soaking up the sun, watching the waves smash into the rocks, and on the other side I watched a bunch of surfers catch waves for a while.  I think the coolest part was a tiny little “bay” if you will.  It was like a sliver of ocean that cut into the rocks, about fifteen feet across and forty feet long, and when big waves would enter the “alley,” they would work their way to the end and then crash on the rocks, shooting upwards in explosions of water and then churning the ocean up until the whole surface was covered in sea foam.  When especially big swells came in, water would shoot twenty to thirty feet in the air, and then it would drain back into the ocean, creating temporary waterfalls on the rocks.  It was awesome; sort of like watching Fantasia without classical music; just the sounds of the ocean battling the rocks.  Every now and again you would hear a giant “whump” as a wave crashed on itself and mixed with the rest of the water, almost like the sound you get if you take a five gallon bucket and submerge it in water.  Anyway, I sat on the edge of this cliff for over an hour, just watching this phenomenon.  I had brought a guitar with me, but I didn’t even get it out of the case; the ocean was mesmerizing all by itself.

I also spent a bunch of time on the other side of the rocks, watching surfers swim out and catch waves.  It’s a really neat sport, and I’ve always had an idea to learn how to surf, but the water here is a little cold for my blood.  Everyone here was using wetsuits, and with good reason.  I figure there’s a good chance I might find myself in a more tropical location for a while, and at that point maybe I’ll drop some money into a surfboard, but for now I’m content just watching from the shore.

When I left the coast, I headed to The Ugly Mug, and unfortunately I got a little turned around on the way.  I stopped at a Staples and got directions, and showed up at the coffee shop about twenty minutes before I was set to play.  Normally I shoot for at least an hour of down time, but in this case it didn’t matter cause the place was pretty laid back.  I didn’t realize it, but I had come to Santa Cruz just as there were record breaking winds, and there were over three hundred thousand people without power.  About forty of them were at the Ugly Mug charging their cell phones and such and drinking good coffee, so I had a rather packed house, thanks mostly to the wind.  It was a pretty good show; I played for about two hours and made some new friends, and afterwards the barista gave me some tips on local venues and invited me to play there again next time I’m in town.

After the show I was suddenly exhausted for no apparent reason, so I went and found myself a good spot to park for the evening and called it an early night.  In the morning I met a friend for breakfast and we went down to a restaurant on the water to see if we could see some dolphins over breakfast.  We didn’t see any dolphins, but I had a solid breakfast of eggs and french toast, bacon and sausage, and I couldn’t have been happier.  It was another beautiful day in Santa Cruz, and after breakfast we parted ways and I headed to another nearby beach.  I walked around for a good long while, and then came back to the van to give it a good solid cleaning.  It was long past due, and with a sunny day I had no excuse not to clean it.  Afterwards I got an early dinner and then went back downtown to set up and play on the streets.

It was now Friday night, so I was curious how things would be In Santa Cruz on the weekend.  I did pretty damn well with tips that night, and I only played for two or three hours.  There was a show going on nearby, and people were stretched all down the sidewalk waiting to get into the venue, so I was their pre-show entertainment.  I asked what bands they were all going to see, but I’ve since forgotten what the answer was; all I remember is that it was some variation of reggae.  Anyway, when most of the line had made it in the door, I packed up and headed back to the van.  I had been given a 24oz Sierra Nevada as a tip, and I couldn’t just drink that on the street.  I watched a western and drank a beer, and then crashed for the evening.

Saturday morning I went to Safeway to get some food for lunch, and I was surprised to find that they had a whole “lounge area” where people could purchase food in the store, and then hang out behind a railing at tables and couches and stuff.  So I got lunch, picked a spot on a couch and plugged in the computer to charge up.  Safeway has a deal with Starbucks, so most stores have free internet, and this was no exception.  I held down my plot for a couple hours while doing research and charging up, and then afterwards I went back to Pacific Avenue to busk for a couple hours.  I figured I would do it in two shifts; one in the afternoon and another in the evening, but it didn’t quite work that way.  I got there around 1:30 in the afternoon, but I broke a string on the fourth or fifth song.  Unfortunately I didn’t have a replacement for the one I broke, so I packed up and headed back to the van to grab cash for strings.  On the way I passed a homeless guy in a wheelchair, and he asked me if I could push him to the library a couple blocks away.  I had passed the library on my way there, so I had an idea where it was, and I told him if he could find a way to hold the guitar, I could get him there.  Sure enough, he balanced the guitar on his lap, and I pushed him seven or eight blocks to the library.  Afterwards I continued to the van, grabbed a handful of cash and went looking for a music shop.  I found a place literally two blocks from where I had been set up before, bought some strings and went looking for a new place to post up for a while.

I played for a couple hours and did alright, but not nearly as well as I had done the evening before.  My favorite corner was already taken by  a five piece bluegrass band when I started playing, but when I closed up the case to take a long break until the evening, that corner had opened up.  So I went over and opened the case again, and within ten minutes I had a guy come up with a mandolin and ask if I wanted to jam.  We played a bunch of classic rock, especially from the Rolling Stones, and he taught me two or three songs there on the corner.  We collected a couple dollars and a couple drunk guys who were out to enjoy the evening, and just hung around trying to sing harmonies to the songs they knew.  It was entertaining, to say the least, and one of the guys looked like the rockstar from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall;” sunglasses, boots, leather jacket and all.  They were drinking some sort of rum the whole time, and they were getting increasingly forward with all the pretty ladies that were walking by.  I just smiled shyly, and when the mandolin player called it a night, I took that as my opportunity to close down the case.

The two guys offered me rum, and said they were going nearby to pick up a “vat of rum that’s bigger than Dallas,” and asked me to come along.  I figured what the hell, a little rum would keep the blood flowing to my fingers and toes.  I was wearing a t-shirt and sandals, and when the sun went down it started to get cold.  So we walked down the street, and one of the guys disappeared into a building and came back with a paper bag full of vodka, rum, and fresh squeezed tangerine juice.  I had a water bottle with me, so he made me a concoction and we walked back up the street.  I was carrying the guitar still, and when we got back to that corner it was still free, and both of these guys were calling for more classic rock.  I pulled it out and played a bunch more songs, but I could feel my voice leaving me, and I was hardly making any tips.  Eventually I decided that I needed to put on some more layers if I was gonna stay outside, so I bid my adues to these guys, packed up my stuff, and headed back to the van.  It was almost eight by this point, and I was pretty well all played out for the day.  I did put on some layers and come back downtown without a guitar, but I didn’t stay very long.  My funds were pretty tight, and dinner was calling my name- so onward to Burger King!  I crashed early again, despite the fact that it was a Saturday night.

On Sunday I spent most of the day at the “lounge” inside of Safeway, drinking apple juice and eating turkey sandwiches while I checked craigslist and worked on a better resume.  I was able to find a couple things in the area, and set up an appointment to do some yard work the following morning.  It worked out pretty well in the end, but that’s a whole other story, and  I’ll save that for another post.  In the mean time, its time for dinner.. Til next time..

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Santa Cruz

Well it happened.. it took seven months of traveling, but I finally caught a cold..  I’m in south San Francisco and the weather is beautiful, but I’m more stopped up than the detergent dispenser at the laundromat.  I’ve taken to a strict regiment of water, apple juice, cold medicine and at least a fifteen hour window for sleep every night.  I don’t usually sleep all the way through it, but last night I hit twelve hours solid.  I figure if I do this for another couple days, I’ll be ship shape before Thursday, when I’ve got another show in Santa Cruz.  Truth be told, it’s the second to last show on this tour.  Afterwards I’ll work my way down the last section of the coast and then play one more show in Los Angeles, where I’ll spend the rest of the winter.  So far I’ve traveled more than five thousand miles since April, and I’m about ready to hang my hat on the same hook for a couple months.

Three Days Later: The Cold is Dead.

I slept for more than sixty hours in a four day period, and every morning I woke up feeling slightly better than the day before.  On the third day, I drove down to Santa Cruz because the weather forecast said it was sunny there, and it certainly wasn’t sunny where I woke up.  It turned out to be a good move though; I made it in time to watch the sunset, and then stuck to my guns and went to bed before 9pm.  When I woke up I stopped into Burger King for breakfast and then headed downtown to Pacific Avenue.  I had done some research on the laws surrounding street performing in Santa Cruz, and it’s pretty much legal as long as you’re ten feet from buildings and such.

While I was playing downtown I met a friend from Switzerland who is also traveling, and then we stumbled on a farmers market and jammed out for another hour.  He had a set of bongo drums, so we set up shop and played some funk, and then split the pot before heading to check out a drum circle a couple blocks away.  There was a small gathering along the river where people were throwing down african beats and hanging out.  He jumped right in on the bongos, and I hung around for a while, but when I realized that my time was running out at the parking meter, I said my adues and headed back to tend to the van.

I put the guitar away and headed off in search of food.  I walked past a place called Joe’s Pizza, and it had a sign outside that read “All you can eat spaghetti!,” so I stopped in and decided to see just how much spaghetti I could consume.  It was now almost five in the afternoon and I had skipped lunch entirely, so it was time for a heavy dinner.  For seven bucks, I got a huge salad with fresh green peppers and olives and stuff, a big bowl of spaghetti with no bottom, and a plate of garlic bread, which I was told also had no bottom.  To make matters better, they had free WiFi, and they were playing one of my favorite movies on the TV.  (I, Robot – check it out sometime..)  I hung out, ate dinner, watched part of a movie, worked on the blog and made friends with one of the servers.  It was a good stop.  In fact, I am currently here staring at my third bowl of Spaghetti, wondering if I have enough room for it in my tummy.  We shall see.  But since that brings me to this very moment, I’m gonna post this now and see what life has in store for me this evening.  I’ll come back to this sometime next week..

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Fisherman’s Wharf

On Saturday morning I woke up early and drove up the winding hills of Sausalito to get the Spencer Avenue Park & Ride right off of the highway.  When I got there I gathered my things for the day and went to the bus stop to catch a ride down into San Francisco.  I was set to play at a place called Coffee Adventures from 11-1 in the afternoon, and after forty minutes at the bus stop by the highway, I began to think I wasn’t gonna make it.  So I called the venue and talked to the owner, and he said that business was really slow, and I probably wouldn’t make much from tips anyway, so no worries either way.  Nonetheless, it was written in blue on my calendar, so I was determined to get there.  I made it there at around 11:30, and the owner was right, there wasn’t a single customer in the shop.  He said I could set up in the shop facing the open door, or on the patio out front if I wanted to try and bring customers in.  It was a little chilly out, but I decided to play outside anyway, and I was given a hot Chai Latte to help keep me warm.  I pulled out my tip jar and set it on the table, but within a couple minutes the owner came out with another tip jar that dwarfed mine, so I used the big jar instead.  I played for about an hour and a half and made four or five dollars in tips from the handful of people that passed me on the street.  Afterwards, I had another Chai Latte and a good conversation with the owner while my computer charged, and then I headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf to try my luck busking in San Francisco.  It worked out pretty well actually, and I was able to find a good spread along the water, in front of a closed storefront.  I opened the case and played for a while, and after forty minutes or so I got approached by a plainclothes officer who pulled out his badge and told me I couldn’t play there.  He said I had to move either two blocks to the left or six blocks to the right.  Then he just walked on though; the whole interaction took about twenty seconds.  I wasn’t sure if he was for real, if he was just messing with me, if he was even an officer at all, or if he’d be coming back down the street anyway.  So as I was contemplating whether or not to move, the owner of the shop came up and opened the garage door behind me.  He had a middle-aged couple with him, and he was showing the empty retail space to them to see if they’d like to rent it.  He smiled at me as he walked up, and said, “oh, music here today.”  I asked him if he was the owner, and he said yes, and then I asked him if it was alright if I stayed there to play some music.  He said he didn’t mind, so after they left I went back to playing, figuring if that same “cop” came back, I could tell him I now had the permission of the owner to play there.  I didn’t see the guy again anyway, and I played for another two hours before taking a late lunch break and coming back for two more hours in the evening.  By the end of the day, my voice was getting hoarse, but I had accrued more than sixty bucks in tips, and had I any CDs to sell, I probably would have broken a hundred.  As it happened, I had sold my last CD on Tuesday at the El Rio show, and I still needed to burn some more and put them together.  I had one empty case on display in the guitar case and I had a whole bunch of people ask me about buying a CD, so I gave out a handful of business cards instead, and told them if they send me an email, I’ll send them some music for free.  It started to rain around six in the evening, and an hour later the foot traffic had died down significantly, so I decided to pack up my stuff and call it a night.  I didn’t know where to catch the right bus, so I stopped at a Starbucks to look up some directions, and while I was in there it began to pour outside.  When I walked back outside, my feet were soaked within seconds.  I had worn my old shoes because they’re comfortable, and although I have a newer set of shoes that I bought in Chicago, I still have yet to really break them in.  I wore sandals all summer long.  Anyway, the only problem with my older shoes is that they have holes in the bottom, which you only notice when its wet out, but on Saturday night I was downright drenched.  I made “squish squish” sounds for more than a mile as I trekked to a bus stop that would take me back across the bridge to the van.  I found the bus stop, but the schedule said that the bus that I needed only came by once an hour, and I had just missed it.  So I stopped at the KFC across the street, got some food and had a conversation with another guy who was carrying a guitar.  We just talked about music for a while, and then I went back out the bus stop so I wouldn’t miss the next one.  It was still pouring, and there was a beautiful girl standing at the bus stop, drenched to the bone.  I walked up with the guitar and realized that I could either stand there in awkward silence or start up a conversation.  I felt much better talking to her, and we talked about all sorts of stuff while we waited for the bus, and then when it arrived we jumped on and joined the dark rows of passengers.  I was only going across the bridge, so I got off at one of the very first stops and then walked back to the van.  I was soaked, so I decided to start up the engine and blast the heat for a couple minutes while I got into some dry clothes.  It worked like a charm, and my feet were warm again in no time.  I slept pretty solidly, and then on Sunday I spent most of my time at Starbucks, resting my voice and doing some research.  It was another rainy day, so I figured I was much better off being inside, and Starbucks has some pretty comfortable chairs.  There is some good weather coming this week, so I’ll head back down in the city when its nice out again..

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Northern California

Well alright.. its been a week or so, and I thought I should update this blog a little bit.  I don’t remember where I left off, and I have no internet here, so I’m just going to start off with last weekend.  Last weekend I made the drive from Medford, OR to Crescent City in California so that I could play two shows at the Pizza King Bar.  I had arranged these shows months ago, and I knew there was no pay involved other than dinner, drinks, and a tip jar, but sometimes that can work out pretty well.  I was stretching pretty thin again and I had four dollars to my name when I left Medford.  I thought I had plenty of gas in the tank, but it turned out that I had just enough.  My gas light went on when I was sixty miles from Crescent City, and with only a couple bucks on me, I thought this would be a perfect chance to run the van to its limit and see just how far I can go once the light goes on.  The answer: sixty miles.  I made it there without any real trouble, other than the fact that I kept worrying my tank was gonna run dry, and gas stations were far and few between on the windy highway.  I actually put a crumpled up napkin on the dashboard to cover up the gas gauge so I wouldn’t keep glancing at it and getting more worried.  Nonetheless, I made it to my destination, and immediately put everything I had into the tank, which amounted to about a gallon.  I then continued to the Pizza King and had one hell of an awesome pizza.  I had been munching on fresh apples all during the drive, but it was nice to get something with a little more sustenance.  I played to a rather empty bar when the evening came, but it was still a blast.  There were only two people in the audience besides the bartender, but I guess you could say that it made for a really intimate environment.  Because I had gotten there early, I ended up hanging out with the bartender in the afternoon, and he offered me a place to stay for the weekend.  He was also the restaurant and property manager, and the woman who owns the Pizza King also owns the building next door, which is retail space on the bottom floor, but there are two apartments on the second floor.  The apartments were being renovated so there were no tenants living there, and I was able to stay in a fully furnished two-bedroom apartment with an ocean view for the weekend.  I had cable, electricity, a full kitchen and even my own key so I could come and go as I pleased.  At the end of the first show on Friday, Ralph sent me upstairs with a pitcher of beer and a bunch of leftover pizza.  I couldn’t believe my luck.  I watched too much cable and then played guitar for a while before crashing, and when I woke up I took a hot shower to kick off the day.  I went to a farmers market down the road, but there was already a guy set up there with a whole PA system on a generator, and he was loud.  I can only assume that he had a deal with the market coordinators, but whatever the case, I didn’t much feel like competing for sound space, especially when I had a fully furnished apartment where I could relax and work on some songs.  So I did just that, and after a couple hours of noodling around and a little more cable, I decided to take a walk down to the ocean.  When I walked outside, Ralph spotted me and said he was about to deliver a pizza to a house right by the beach, so if I wanted a ride one way, to jump in.  So I jumped in his van and asked the little dochound if I could borrow her seat for a few minutes, and then I got dropped off about a half a mile down the road.  I walked along the beach for a while until I came to big breaker wave blocks, and then I heard what I thought sounded like seals.  I just followed the sound until I came up over a ridge, and there were somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty sea lions lounging on a dock.  They were all napping together, no doubt to keep warm, but whenever one of them decided to move, he would crawl over the others that he was cuddled up with, and it would start an uproar of “barks.”  I say “barks” because they looked like giant puppy dogs, but the sound was really more akin to that of a seal bark, if you will.  And once one of them started to bark, it would start a loud chorus of barks from a handful of sea lions throughout the pack, and then it would die down after a couple of seconds.  This happened every thirty seconds or so.  There were a few kids out on the dock with the sea lions when I walked over the ridge , and they were less than ten feet away from the giant sea creatures.  I just sat on a big rock at the edge of the water and watched for a while as the sea creatures gathered on the dock in the late afternoon.  They must have weighed two or three hundred pounds each, and it was crazy how easily they jumped out of the water onto the dock, but they didn’t seem to mind the kids overall, as long as they didn’t get too close.  When the kids left, I decided to head out to that same place on the dock and sit with the sea lions for a while.  I sat down about five or six feet away, and at first they barked at me, but then we got used to one another’s presence.  There was one sea lion in particular who kept his eye on me.  He was on the end of a clump of five of them napping together, but every thirty or forty seconds he would open his eyes and check on me, and then go back to dozing, and if I stood up or started to move closer he would bark at me to let me know not to invade their space, and of course, a chorus would ensue.  They were big furry creatures, laying in clumps of four and five and soaking up what was left of the sun for the day.  I just sat there with them quietly for about forty minutes, and after a while the one on the end stopped checking on me so often.  Although when I stood up to leave, he started another barking chorus.  It was pretty cool though, I’ve never seen a sea lion outside of the zoo before, let alone shared a sunset with a whole group of them on an ocean dock.

I was diggin’ Crescent City, and when the sun went over the horizon I walked back to the apartment, stopping to look at all the huge twenty foot tall anchors that had been thrown up onto the land by a giant tsunami in 1964, and then were left standing where they fell as a memorials of the disaster.  When I got back to the apartment, I did what most people do when they get home; I threw down my keys on the coffee table and then went straight to the bathroom to take a piss.  I washed my hands, dried them with my own towel that was still hanging from the morning, and then walked back out to the living room and sat down on the couch.  It was crazy though, because I don’t think I’ve gone through that sequence since I stayed with Dan in Chicago back in May.  I guess its something I sort of took for granted until I didn’t do it for a while.  Anyway, that thought struck me when I sat down on the couch, and I thought I’d share it with the world.  I watched a little cable and then went down into the restaurant to grab some dinner and ended up just chillin’ with Ralph at the bar.  I had a dark beer, a salad and a roast beef and swiss sandwich.  I started playin’ around 8:30 to a crowd of six, and it was actually a lot of fun; we were just having conversations between songs, and drinking copious amounts of beer.  I played until a little after ten, and then everybody rolled out and Ralph set me up with another pizza and a pitcher of beer.  I talked to him for a while, and it was decided that I would spend a couple hours working the next day, painting or cleaning out the garage or something for ten bucks and hour to gather up a little more gas money for the drive.  As you can imagine, the tips didn’t amount to much with only a handful of people.  He said I could play again on Sunday night if I stuck around, and I told him I’d work all day and then play music if there was anybody there, but otherwise I’d just call it an early night and hit the road to Eureka in the morning.  I had a show at 11am in Eureka, or at least I had made a phone call a couple months back, but I hadn’t talked to the owner in months, so I wasn’t positive that it was confirmed.  Nonetheless, it was on my calendar in blue, so that means I show up to play, and so my plan was to leave early on Monday morning, stop at the Redwood National Park for a while and then play some music at the Downtown Express in Eureka, CA.  All of these I did, but not before spending a couple hours on Sunday weighing out pizza dough, cleaning out a garage, and cleaning the apartment I was staying in so that it was ready to be rented as soon as the painting was finished.  It was kind of nice because at the end of the night I came back to a sparkling apartment, with six pack of Coors this time, and a glass of V8.  You see, I’d learned something from Ralph over the past couple days about taking a glass of Coors Light and mixing a couple tablespoons of V8 into the mix, and then you have a beer that has a slight taste of a Bloody Mary, is a little healthier and you don’t get drunk as fast, I guess because of all the nutrients or something.  Anyway, we drank these reddish concoctions all day long as we cleared out the garage and cleaned the apartment, and by the time sunset came I had a pretty good buzz going.  Ralph decided to make ribs that night, so I ate like a king once again, and somehow or another ended up with another pizza for the road.  We just hung out for a while to see if anybody would show up, but it looked like another dead night in Crescent City, so we decided to close up shop and I figured I’d hit the road in the morning and leave the key on the kitchen table.  We had done a little car switch when we picked up the ribs earlier, so I got a ride back to Ralph’s place to get the van back.  I talked to him there for a little while and then went back to the apartment for one final night.  Damn cable.  I shouldn’t have turned on the TV, but it was Sunday night and you never know if you can find a brand new Simpsons or Family Guy.  All I found was an American Dad, but that turned out to be pretty good after all.  Anyway, I shouldn’t have turned on the TV in the first place because I get glued, and when I came back from the shower I curled up on the couch with a blanket to get warm before I got fully dressed, and the next thing I knew I was asleep.  I woke up around three thirty, and realized I had already taken most of my blankets to the van, and the on that I left was not sufficient on its own.  In fact, I had taken almost everything to the van because my half-hashed plan had been to sleep in my own bed and set the alarm for seven so I could get a jump on the drive.  I groggily got up and gathered up the last of my things, and then at 4am I left the key on the table and made one more trip to the van before I closed the door.  I was still going to follow through with the plans for the morning, so I set the alarm and slept in the van for a couple more hours.  When the morning came, I drove.  It was a pretty drive too, but really foggy, which I always think is cool, and to make things cooler, I hit giant redwoods within a half an hour.  I had to get out and walk through the forest for a while, and all I gots to say is “Damn, they’s is some big damn trees!”  After an hour or so I got back on the highway, I when I got out of the park things began to open up and I realized that it had become sunny, and before I knew it I was in Eureka, and it was beautiful outside.

I walked into the Downtown Express at 10:30 with a guitar and a backpack full of harmonicas, and talked to the guy that was working the café.  I told him I had talked to someone there about playing for tips on this morning and he said the owner was in the back.  So I put down my stuff and walked to the back where two women were getting food prepped for the day; the owner asked me what I wanted to do, and I explained that I wanted to put out a tip jar and play for her lunch crowd.  She gave me the go ahead, and I set up my stuff in a corner of the shop.  It was an almost square shop with really high ceilings, so the acoustics were awesome, and they made everything very loud, perhaps even a little too loud at times.   Whatever the case, I had a blast and played for about two hours while the computer charged up, and they gave me an awesome chicken curry sandwich for lunch, as well as twenty dollars to add to the tip jar.  I was stoked, and not only was I invited to play again the next time I come through, but I now had enough gas money to get to San Francisco for a show the following night.  After lunch I thanked the owner and hit the road again, heading further south, and found myself going through another giant redwood forest.  I pulled into a park off of the highway and ended up taking another hike through the forest.  It was awesome.  I must have just wandered around aimlessly for about two hours, stumbling onto giant trees that were hollowed out in the middle to the point you could stand in them, like caves.  It was insane.  It reminded me of a book that I read in the fifth or sixth grade called My Side of the Mountain, where a kid basically finds himself lost in the middle of a remote section of the redwood forest and learns to live off the land; makes his home in a hollow tree, hunts, and hangs a deerskin as an entrance to his home.  It was one of my favorite books when I was younger, so seeing these trees and that the whole idea is more than feasible is kind of awesome.  I found one tree that was really made up of about seven trunks, but the whole thing was about twenty-five feet wide, and on one side it was hollow and created something of a cave.  The upside-down V shape that made up the two edges of the cave came together at about thirty-five feet up.  It was huge, and the main tree itself must have been over 200 feet tall, with the other spring-offs approaching that height as well.  At the bottom and in the middle there was a campfire pit, but the stones surrounding the fire pit were all strangely cubic, and a grayish brown chalky color, like they were limestone blocks you’d get at a garden center or something.  But then I looked closer and saw a ditch in the ground a little closer to the inside trunk of the massive tree, where dirt was compacting like concrete and then cracking in perfect seven by seven inch cubes as it dried up.  and there was a stick next to the ditch where people had broken out the dirt cubes and moved them a couple feet to create the fire pit.  It was pretty cool, and I found another hollow tree that had dirt cubes a little later.  Anyway, when the sun went down I meandered my way back to the van and drove for another two hours before it got totally dark, and then I pulled off and slept in a twenty-four hour grocery store parking lot.  When I woke up, I went the rest of the way to San Francisco, but stopped at a McDonald’s to charge up and get more specific directions to the bar, and found that there was a six-dollar toll for the Golden Gate Bridge.  You know a city is expensive when there is an entrance fee for vehicles.  I was glas I checked though, because after putting enough gas in the tank to make the drive, I was back down to four dollars and some change.  I made a stop at a viewpoint before crossing the bridge; one, to see the sunset, and two, because it would give me time to gather up the last two dollars in change before I got to the toll booth.  I knew this would take me down to basically nothing, but I figured I had a show in a couple hours and I’d probably make something from the tip jar.  Anyway, it turned out to be a good stop because I checked out the Spencer Battery, which was basically built to protect the San Francisco Bay in the 1840’s, and was in use until 1945.  I got to see the bridge, watch the sunset, and check out some soldier’s quarters from over 150 years ago.  It was a pretty good introduction to the city.  After walking around for a while, I got back in the van, gathered my shekels and got back on the highway to cross the bridge.  My gas light went on again while I was on the bridge.  I figured that meant I had sixty miles to make some money, and probably less because it’s not highway driving.  Things are real again.

I gave the lady my six bucks and followed my directions, but somehow I got lost anyway and had to stop outside of a Starbucks to look up new ones.  I made it to the El Rio at 6:30, and I was set to play at seven.  Miraculously I got what they call “rockstar parking,” and I was right outside the front door.  I played for about 45 minutes and made six dollars, plus the two drinks they gave me for playing.  I hung around and watched the guy play who played after me, who also used an acoustic guitar and a harmonica strap, but he had a very different style of playing the bluesharp.  It was awesome; a lot more straight harp, like Bob Dylan style, as opposed to old muddy blues harmonica like Howlin’ Wolf; a lot more breathing inward and bending notes.   Anyway, I was really enjoying his set, and then afterwards I wandered into the big room where there was a stage with lights and everything.   Two really pretty girls in aluminum foil dresses were setting up instruments and microphones on the stage.  My curiosity was peaked, so I had to stay to find out what this was all about.  It turned out that it was a band called the Lost Lockets, and they do sort of an art rock thing where its part performance piece and part concert, and they played some really neat stuff.  They had a violin, a keyboard, a kick drum turned on its side, tambourines and shakers, and a satchel full of machetes.  On their second to last song, the girls sat across from one another at the kick drum and played a beat with machetes, beating the drum and scraping the blades together while singing a song with lovely harmonies.  I enjoyed it a lot, and I didn’t turn around until the end, but the crowd had grown to more than sixty or seventy people.

When I left the bar I had six dollars to my name, and I blew $2.50 right away on some food from Safeway.  I needed to eat though, and that was helpful.  But that put me at $3.50, and I knew my computer was going to need charging the next day.  I had talked to a couple people about busking at the bar, and I was told by another musician to check out Sausalito, right across the bridge.  You have to pay six bucks to get back across, but he said he usually does pretty well there because there’s very little competition, and the people aren’t used to seeing street performers.  He said you can play at Fisherman’s Wharf, but the people there see musicians every day, so it’s a lot tougher to do well.  When I woke up in the morning I went to a coffee shop to charge up the computer and get directions to the next spot, and I spent two dollars even.  I looked up Sausalito to see how to get there, and it turned out that there was a park and ride right there by the highway, so figured I might as well go there anyway; parking in San Francisco is a nightmare.  My plan was to do basically what I had done in Seattle; park the van at a Park & Ride, and then take public transit into the city every day.  But I wanted to try my hand busking across from the city by the bay, so I drove to Sausalito, and took a whole bunch of curvy steep roads all the way down to the edge of the water.  I parked in a two hour parking zone and took a walk down the street with the guitar, and then set up next to a small park by the bay.  I played for about an hour and a half, had a good conversation with a pretty girl, but only made $1.50 and a flower.  I walked back to the van moved it to a safe place for the night, and then took a walk along the bay.  It was getting dark and I figured I’d make a fresh start at it in the morning.  I hung out by the water for a couple hours and then went to bed early.

When I woke up, I walked back down to the main strip and set up to play outside of an art gallery.  I played for somewhere around an hour and made two or three bucks before a police officer pulled up and stopped across the street.  We made eye contact before getting out of the car, and I knew she was here to tell me to stop.  Sure enough, she came over and said that it was illegal to solicit in Sausalito, and I had to move somewhere else.  She suggested Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, but as I told her, I needed to make at least six bucks to cross the bridge, let alone pay for parking.  I asked about playing in the park across the way, and she said “well I can’t tell you not to play your guitar, but I can tell you not to sell your CD’s here, but do what you gotta do to make your six bucks.”  So I went over to the park for a little bit, but I didn’t even open the case, I just played for a while with my feet hanging over the edge.  I had to move the van soon anyway, so after playing for a while I started walking the seven or eight blocks back to the van, and on the way I passed a very busy restaurant with the big front windows wide open to the street.  I thought it couldn’t hurt to walk in and ask if they needed some live entertainment for the lunch crowd, and offered to play for just tips.  The gorgeous blonde behind the counter smiled and said, “lemme go check with the manager.”  She came back and said that I had caught him on a good day, and to go ahead and set up.  So I walked the last block and moved the van, and then came back in to play some music, and ended up making a little over twenty bucks in tips, but then afterwards they also gave me a sandwich and salad for playing.  I was pretty stoked; I needed the money and the food was fantastic.  I also found that they had electricity and free WiFi, so I hung around and talked to a couple locals for the rest of the afternoon.  When I was all charged up, I headed back to move the van one final time for the day, and although I planned on taking another walk along the bay, I ended up laying in the back instead, mostly just working on this blog entry.  I played a little piano, and then I made another early night of it.  Today is Friday and it’s pretty nasty and rainy out, so I’m sitting in a coffee shop doing some research.  I have a show tomorrow morning in San Francisco, so I’m making sure I know how to get there by bus; I don’t need to pay the toll again.

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