Trying to branch out a bit, I took the advice I’ve heard from several people who have asked, “Why don’t you try playing in a park?” So I headed to Irving City Park, near the tennis courts, and started playing a show that would be witnessed by few but culminate in police involvement.
Although it was a pretty warm day, the park was shady and cool. I set out the ol’ benches and started playing. Those benches have had a lot of private shows performed for them.
I was expecting some friends, so I tried to pace myself. Some travelled from as far as New York City, while others walked just a few blocks, but still: wouldn’t want anyone to waste a trip if they expected to see me play.
I started playing at about 6pm, and my friends didn’t make it until about 6:45, but in the meantime I had a couple come by and take in a few songs while they polished off a large bottle of beer together. Sweet. There was also the older couple walking laps around the park; at one point they apologized for having no wallet from which to draw a tip, but I was already flattered that they didn’t change their course after the first lap.
Since one of my friends had played drums in a multi-person band I sometimes play in, it was a treat to let him see my one-man band arrangements for some songs we used to play together. I also got to show him a few new songs, and a good time was had by all.
Or rather, by some. It seems a person across the street from the park was not so keen on the sounds of El Demasiado. And while I do enjoy playing music out in public, I never ever want to play for someone who would rather not hear it. If you’re walking down the sidewalk, I think you can withstand a few seconds of my sound, but I would never play near you if you’re in a place you can’t move from. I know my music isn’t for everyone, so just give the word, and I’ve played my last song on that spot.
So if that person across the street had come over and asked me to stop, it would have been lights out, show’s over, no reason necessary. But alas, that person, whoever it was, chose instead to have the police department do his complaining for him. And so it was, just as I played my last song, a police cruiser rolled up onto the grass and a heavily armed officer walked over to tell me I needed to stop. I told him I was already done, and that was that. He got back into the cruiser and backed out into the street.
I suppose it’s possible the anonymous complainer was intimidated by the prospect of confronting so imposing a person as a street musician. But I am just standing there with my legs bound to a drum set on my back and a guitar across my chest. Even if I do turn violent and make a sudden move toward a critic, I’m pretty much just going to fall over. Still, better safe than sorry. Stand behind that thin blue line. If this isn’t what the police are for, then what on earth are they for?
I’m truly sad the anonymous complainer lacked the courage to personally express his feelings to me. I guess he only wanted his opinion expressed, but didn’t want to be responsible for having it. It’s kind of lame, but if you’re out there, anonymous complainer in the vicinity of NE Cook St. and 7th Ave., don’t worry: I won’t be back.