Monday, April 5, 2010

Street Musicians Need to Step Up Their Game

I work in Washington, D.C. now and one of the singular pleasures I have is taking the Metro to my office each day. It allows me to read the paper or a book while traveling and is a peaceful respite from the normal driving.

Some mornings and afternoons when I make my way to or from the Metro stop in the city I am greeted by street musicians standing near the escalator, playing for money.
Sometimes this works out nice. There is one guitarist who plays smooth jazz and its kind of cool. I've seen this guy jam with a dude on a keyboard before, which was great, and also with a hippie playing an acoustic guitar, which was not so great. I think it just depends on who gets their first.

All in all, I have no problem with this. Its normally pleasant music, the guys playing make some seed money and the rich, white folk get to experience the urban culture that they missed out on while studying law in New Haven.

But, every now and again it all goes horribly wrong. Like today.

This morning while I was riding the huge-ass escalator to the street level, my ears were assaulted by my least favorite of the street musicians, the trumpet player. The trumpet is a fine instrument in the right hands, but this guy's hands ain't it.

From the escalator, I heard a weird, discordant rendition of "Hava Nagila." This guy was all over the place. He played the familiar part and then kind of forgot what he was doing and stopped and then muddled through what seemed to be the same tune for a few seconds.

As this was going on, I quickly tried to cross the street and get out of earshot, but I wasn't so lucky. What followed next was some free-form jazz riffing that would have made Miles Davis bust out of his grave and feast on the trumpeter' brains. Zombie Miles might be on the way right now. I'm not sure.

When the musician settled down and decided on his next piece, I was surprised to hear the opening bars of "When You Wish Upon a Star." That's a nice sweet song that reminds everyone that dreams really do come true. Maybe even for a down-on-his-luck street musician. I started to come around on the guy and think that maybe he was OK, when he segued into the theme song from The Flintstones. Thankfully, I was out of earshot after that.

Seriously though. The Flintstones? I like the show as much as the next guy, but come on! Work on your set list a little bit. It couldn't hurt to practice either.

1 comment:

  1. That is really annoying. You probably can't relate to this because you don't have a vag (Psssstt.... that's slang for "vagina")but there was this one Sex and the City episode that reminded me of that. Totally unrelated, but Carrie dates this jazz musician. He's into Coltrane and it's a bunch of skee daa boo deee noise. I hate that episode.