Weirdly nice weather in Portland and a note of encouragement from the guy who built my drum kit compelled me to take to the streets and play some music. I also have a friend who lives in the Pearl whose bike-only lifestyle has kept him from ever seeing me play, as I tend to stick to the NE Portland area. So I asked him where I could play, and he suggested 23rd Ave. and NW Kearney. And there I went.
The heavy pedestrian traffic is on 23rd Ave. but the sidewalks are narrow, and there aren’t any businesses closed on a Saturday that I can play in front of. So I made my way a little bit west on Kearney and set up on the side wall of a restaurant. I liked the spot for a couple of reasons: out of the way for people who don’t want to hear what I’m doing; and a pretty wide sidewalk in case anyone does want to spectate for a while. (It could happen!)
As I began, the owners of the motorcycles parked in front of my spot appeared and started up the beasts. Noise and smoke obscured my first song, but that’s how street rock goes sometimes. I kept going, watching the nervous minivan driver park in front of me, seemingly concerned that I might get some noise on his car. Not a big deal to me, but sucks for the people watching from across the street, whose view was now completely obstructed.
I would say just about no one stopped to listen, but a lot of people photographed (videoed?) me as they walked by without deviating from the sidewalk of 23rd Ave. This seems kind of tacky to me, as I’m hoping to occasion some interaction with people, but I understand it’s intimidating to approach some nut with a drum set strapped to his back bellowing over his guitar badly in need of a tune. Still, it might have been nice to drop a donation into my bucket, as all money collected goes to my friend Priya’s campaign to buy a handicap accessible van.
Just as I was wrapping up, a family (?) of about 8 people sort of gathered nearby, seemingly interested, but only one person talked with me, while another shot video of me while unconvincingly pretending to be doing something else on her phone. I mentioned Priya’s campaign, and they contributed a few dollars, but I always wonder about that: do people believe it’s a real donation, or are they just rewarding me for concocting such an elaborate–and some might say poorly executed–reason for collecting money like this?
I had been a little thrown by the downhill slant of the sidewalk, which put my bass drum foot just slightly farther from its usual position, but I kept at it for a while. Not wanting to play until I fell over (as nearly happened at my last show) I determined to play for 30 minutes, and if I wasn’t too worn out, maybe I’d make a second stop back at my regular old spot on Alberta.
But that’s a story for another time.
Here’s an inaccurate street-view photo of the restaurant, which didn’t have any outdoor seating today:
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