Hey how are you?
I’ve admittedly been slacking on this blogging thing lately. I definitely had the wind taken out of my sails by the laptop theft/car death double whammy. But I got back in the proverbial saddle last night and brought my guitar down to Powell St Bart Station.
I’ve been doing a little more songwriting the past few days so I figured it was time to take their humble beginnings to the street. The Powell Bart is sort of coveted spot amongst SF buskers. It’s a prime hub for people using BART and MUNI and its also got a lot of tourism going in the area. The Powell station is a pretty big station with three good busking spots (this area is also called “The Pitch” – just like the playing field for Cricket). So I got to the first spot that has ALWAYS been taken every single time I go out so my expectations weren’t very high for getting it. And I was right, it was taken by an upright bass and singer/songwriter. So I made my way to the next spot which was occupied by a cellist. So I kept on walking to the next section. As I approached the next pitch I heard a sound that was so good, it might as well have been like it my first time hearing The Beatles again. I rounded the corner and there was this older black man with gray and balding hair sitting on a milk crate leaning against the wall wearing bright red and white adidas shoes that he was stopping with great gusto to the beat of his completely down tuned guitar. I think he had it tuned to Db, but I couldn’t tell for sure. I think it was basically just tuned to his voice – which was AMAZING.
He had a little family of four gathered around him listening. And I definitely felt the pull to stick around myself. So I did. As he finished his song – I started clapping – then the family started clapping. And then this dude talked to the family for about ten minutes as I eavesdropped and took careful note of each of his words.
This dude was a master busker.
After the family had finished talking to him, he started into his arrangement of Otis Redding’s “Sitting On the Dock of the Bay.” This is a song that I know inside out and cover myself, so I knew we would at least have something to talk about when he finished. Not that I wanted his song to end, because the only word I have for him is AMAZING.
Eventually he finished after adding a couple more verses that I’m pretty sure he just made up on the spot. But he didn’t have the whistles, which totally make the song for me.
I asked him what his name was.
“An Swer,” He said. “I’ve made my way through the questions of life like a blackhole in the universe and reemerged a changed man with a black hand.”
I couldn’t help but smile at his poetry.
I sat down and listened to his next song. He was AMAZING. He kept such a steady beat with red and white adidas’, and he made such an effort to engage with all the passersby.
“I love that pink skirt.” He would say to one lady.
“I love that red hat.” He would say to the next.
If someone that looked hispanic walked by he would say “Buenos Dios Que Pasa Amigo.”
If someone that looked Japanese walked by he said “Konichiwa.”
It was especially funny when he used his Spanglish to usher over a couple of dudes from Afghanistan.
“I’m not mexican man, I’m Afghan!” The Afghan said.
To which An Swer replied “A Salaamakim.”
After about twenty minutes of watching him work I asked him if I could join in. He readily agreed and I had the time of my life banging on my guitar and stomping my feet.
We got lots of smiles. And the Afghan dude actually gave us his half-full bottle of jack daniels. An Swer of course offered me a couple of nips.
When he finished, he complimented my guitar playing and told me that he was looking for a bassist to get paid. That could be a lot of fun.
Then he left and I played my songs and made eight bucks. A nice day.
I’m excited to get back out in the grinder soon and try out all the new tricks I learned from An Swer.