Studio Journal 7-27-10: Street Scenes

Street Scenes

Associated Videos
All videos reproduced in a smaller format on my You Tube Channel in a special playlist, Street Performances 7-11-10

TITLE video link "Street Scenes- A Day at the Park"

VIDEO-2 TITLE video link"Street Scenes: Street Night"

 video link"Think Of Me"spacervideo link"The Water Is Wide"

video link"A Jammin Samba"spacervideo link"So Fine"

video link"Little Friend"spacer video link"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

video link"She’ll Always Be Beautiful To Me"spacer video link"A Sound Like A Train"

Sorry, no time for individual descriptive pages yet, I have to leave for the airport in minutes, but they are up on youtube! Enjoy, I am off to Alask. I’ll be playing one day at the Tanana Valley State Fair in Fairbanks this year, the first friday, August 6th, two shows. No time to add more pictures to this, sorry! so it goes, at least it is here. Got to fly!

I have to start by saying I am pretty overwhelmed at this point. And down to the wire to get this done, a few days and I fly for Alaska. There is simply too much to do and too little time, right now and for the whole time I’ve been here. So it goes. I already had more than I could hope to do in this short time here, but I had hoped to make some significant progress. Then other things came up that couldn’t be put off. Which means the other things have to be, and the process is not stress free. From the mundane realities of broken water pipes, crumbling furnace chimneys, and car repairs, going into and being ma in the hospital right now, recovering from pnuemonia. Though there good hope she’ll be out the day before we leave, but regardless, she’s doing good. So I’m thankful enough just for that. Good enough, and then time for the next chapter, Alaska, 2010.

The situation is simple confirmation of my decision to “settle down” here so I am available when needed. Though it is also an undeniable distraction from what I had hoped to do with this time. It is also what I want to do most, actually be of service. I just have to stop worrying bout the temporary delays, remember this is a long term plan. I’ll be here for a decade, more or less, getting the music projects done, then touring out of 1213 as a base, going international and playing locally in the DC area. I’ll still spend part of the year in Florida visiting Dad, playing, and working on the boat. Though eventually I want to start touring again mid-winter, a slot for international trips. But as for the moment, as always, I can only try to accept the facts and deal with the realities as best I can.

For a while, I was grimly frantic, facing unpleasant options of what to do and what to let slide. I felt like I can’t win, I ony can chose what to lose. Which is true, in the short run. Not a good choice, unfortunately one I have faced too often. But once I have decided, I accept and get to it. I do need to go to Alaska and take care of business there so I am free skip it for a while, I really wish I could skip it now. At the same time, I’ll go and enjoy the time, breath it in, and make the most of it. The wild is good for me. So I try to get out this journal before I go, and produce some more video, since it is likely I won’t have the computer or internet access in Alaska to do anything until I get back.

With what time I have to work on producing something, I’m caught between trying to maintain the stream, and making forward progress on “doing more”. I decided to produce some video to post, write this journal of words and images, and try to tell the story, first. Today I finished mixing video, and am writing this. But tomorrow, I’ll start making some promo performance videos for the website so I can start contacting festivals and venues, try to “do more” by playing at bigger places for more people. Though I might pack first, three days to go.

But there’s problems with Alaska this year. To start, the dulcimer won’t fit onto the airflight case with the pickup control box attached, and the pickups probably should come off as they are dangerously exposed, and I haven’t made another set yet. The only way right now is to cut it apart and solder it back together when I get there, and the same for the way back. The Festivals have faded away, sad to say, was afraid they were ebbing. The Deltana Festival folks haven’t gotten back to me, so anything could be happening. Maybe I got in touch too late, or they aren’t having the fair, or they just expect me to show up, or they just don’t want me to play. Someone might have been upset when I said that do “do more” with the music, I probably wouldn’t be able to play the small fests, especially in out of the way places like Alaska, Though I’ve chosen to do this for decades, no problem. I will again, someday. Practically, I can’t afford the loss I take flying up there. Though in a bit of luck, when I booked my flights, it turned out I had enough miles stacked up for a free trip. The Alaska State Fair only wants me to do a couple shows, which I got on the same day, the first friday, and no streetshow. They dont realize that’s all they really had to offer me, hospitality and welcome, and a place to play, all day, and the run of the fair. Practically, it was the street show that paid best, in money and in doing what I was there for, playing for people, Though I still lost money on the trip, all told. It was worth it, once. But there are other fairs in Alaska to play, when I return. And fairs down south I need to play instead,for a while. Alaska has to go on the shelf, so I can focus on the music and get it done. In fact, it is getting in the way right now, where I have to drop everything and go for a couple months, leave all I’ve started, lose momentum, focus, connection, networking.

The real focus this year is going up to the mountains again. Both because I want to go back to the wild for a while, such a deep part of my life, so far away here. And I want to keep my promise to Dave, finish what we started, clearing out the last part of this dig in a big final effort. It is also probably nescessary to do so. With the claims upstream of us opened up again, they will probably use their heavy equipment to dig illegally where they see us digging, next Spring when we are gone and there’s no BLM about. So it goes. But if we do this last spot, we can call it done. When I come back, I can find a new place to dig. Or just walk about. Though the digging is a part of the place now, and pays for the gas and groceries to go, what more can I ask? There is a great kata in the dig, a great energy in the working and camping, like sailing, and deep roots in working men through time, old energies, old echoes.

I’m facing the real cost of what I have to do to “do more”. It is letting go, and turning away, leaving behind things that were part of me, and always will be, even as I accept that I am moving on to a new chapter, something I haven’t really done. Now I am free to be getting on with what I have to do, and getting it done. Alaska will be there whan I am ready to go back, if I ever do. There are so many places, and people, that I left behind as I followed the music, many I have never seen again. But that is the choice I made. I was talking to a girl today, who had come by the house canvasing, and well, like so often in my life, I end up playing the dulcimer for her, a quick song, because it is easier than trying to explain, and explains everything. All I could have done, all I might have had, all the regrets and wishes, hopes that spring like weeds and vanish like desert flowers, all I have never found and all I have left behind.

I have to face forward, and look to the future and what I will find, the terrible beauty that I leave behind is waiting for me ahead, somewhere. I accept what I know, and that the music is intrinsically worth it, and can’t be denied, no matter how I look at it, rationally or with my heart. There is no real choice, never has been. I can’t say it has made me happy, far from it, but I have no doubts. Losing Alaska, for a while at least, brings me back to the Way, to seeing the energy itself within the manifestation, makes me committed to manifesting the same energy in new ways, connecting to the wild by getting one of the boats up and running here, and confirming that stopping in wild places is an integral part of the new tours I’ll make. And focus on new Fairs, and even outlets for music here in the DC area, places to play, people to play for, to do what I am really here to do. As it has been and will be.

Folksinger and Fan

But none of the above is the Story I want to tell here. I seem to be finding themes for these journal entries, threads to focus on in the weaving of my life. Perhaps because the story is to deep and too complex to tell all at once. This time I want to talk about the street. I can perform on any stage, for all the world’s a stage, but nowhere else can I get the same scenes and interactions with people as I get on the street. And I don;t mean the regular accepted street venues, but really, the essence of the life I have lived as a folksinger, off the official stages, even those of the street, and going out among the people, playing for anyone and everyone I meet, from the people you see in the videos to the canvaser who came to the folksinger’s door, and was glad she did.

So many scenes. Often in the videos, you can’t see all the people, but you can hear the cameras clicking away as I start to play. I am making a scene. From so many just taking pictures and video with their phones and small cameras to share the experience with friends to solid professionals seeing in me something worth taking images of. I’m including some pictures a pro sent me as well. As I told him, the hardest part is that I can’t take pictures of myself. And I can’t wait for the right moment when I do. And I am posting these videos so people can share them instead of using their cell phones. Even though the video camera gets in the way. Inhibiting people sometimes, distracting me. Though I have to remember it is people, all the people on the other side of the lense I am trying to invite into this place I am, these scenes I am living. I can only capture a small part, and then mix that down into an even smaller fraction of the scene. But I have tried. Though there are videos of me performing. As you watch them you can even see me gradually open up again and shine, as I come alive for the people and the music. But the main videos are about the scenes that surround the music, the people, that really is what the street is about. I did two, showing two facts of the street. One from the day just captures several typical scenes as people stop to listen and interact, to play the dulcimer and talk abut it as I explain what it is. The other is at night, when one person comes by, a professional piano player in this case, and decides to stay and listen for a while. Between each song, we have a an ongoing conversation that plays off the songs and the music, and what comes to their mind as they watch and listen to me play, and the thoughts and words they bring out of me as we have this longer conversation.

I also transfered the small amount of video from the Florida Folk Festival and a jam session here with a friend from Seattle, Moss, who appears with me in the AK2K videos from over a decade ago. But I doubt I’ll have time to mix those down. I am barely getting this much done.

So, I’ve been playing the street again, and have been glad to be there, really. It was great, though not perfect, and it raised issues, and there were problems. Even with it’s drawbacks, I still love the street. It has a dark side, which perhaps makes it great, rather than just good. Like the sea, or the wild, it is too deep, to beautiful and terrible to be simply fun and games. The street gives me some of the intensity and depth of experience, of emotion, of expression, and the mystic, spiritual energy I want from life. The Street is almost an elemental place, and is one within the world of people. It is where I connect with the People, that essential energy of humanity. And, of course, the music. And the magic, right Climene?

So many scenes. This is a picture taken by someone who saw me play here years ago, when their daughter was younger. They still listen to it all the time, she said. And now her daughter is learning to play music. They were just thrilled to see me again. It was so cool to experience that continuity, to actually know the effect I had in specific people’s lives, that they actualyy listened to the CD after they got it. Like so many walks of life, you never know what effect you have beyond the moment. This was a special treat for me, a really positive message upon my return to the street. I was doing important things here. And both their first encounter with me, where they got a CD, and then this meeting again, wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been willing to go out on the street and play. She sent me the picture above of me and her daughter. This is why I am out there, for them.

I enjoyed playing the street. You can see me come alive to it in the videos. I love meeting people, and to be able to play for hours, drifting through the music, searching for a song that wants to come out of me, that I want to play, find a channel for that restless beautiful energy inside me, give it form. I can’t play just anything, the wrong song will be lifeless and mechanical, while the right one will be a thing of terrible beauty, with a breathless clarity and crystaline edge, fire and stone, flowing and dancing like water and air. play for people, specifically, ask what they want to hear, and show them the electric dulcimer and what I have done creating a modern playing style. It has been especially good because there are so many people from the Middle East and South, Central, and East Asia, North and East Africa, Chinese and Korean, Thai, Indian, Pakistani, Afghani, Iranian and Iraqi, Jordanian and Turkish. They all recognize the instrument, which has always been part of their culture. But they have never seen one like mine, or someone play it like I do. Over and over I talk of my plans, and my vision, of travelling to those places where the dulcimer comes from and showing them what I have done with the instrument, like taking the first electric guitar to Spain.

I also play for a lot of people from Latin America, and while the instrument is nearly as unknown there as it is in America, we have a common ground in the polyrhytmic, snynchopated rhythms, music driven by percussion, the echoes of steel drum and marimba, and the hand drum beats that are so much a part of my playing style. I actually feel the lack of latin music in my repitiore, though I know so many bits and pieces, I just don;t have a real knowledge. I would play along, especialy when I was in Mexico and central America, but never learned specific songs. My visits where too short and too infequent, and Latin music didn’t enter the American folk-pop music I played untill recently, and recent music is generally another lack I feel.

But late at night, I would walk back to the rig still singing, still glowing with good feelings, happy to have been there for people, to have been able to make such fine scenes for them to watch, to be pat of.

Yes, I had a lot of mixed feelings, as well. As I start to play again, I seem to be playing the same songs too often. This always happens when I haven’t played for a while, I don;t forget the songs, but I forget what I know, and lose connection with what I want to play. What I play is always a complicated experience, driven by som many things as I play extemporainiously, coming entirely from the moment. My primary motivation is heart and soul. So I am playing what I feel like, the songs that I like playing, and especially, express what I am feeling at the moment and in my life. But that seems harder these days, to find those songs. Thouhg another odd fact is that, while I know so many songs, I have a hard time remembering the songs I know, and feeling connected to them when they were often part of my life years or decades ago, wanting to play them, having them surface spontaineously. Yet I can dredge a song up out of the past, and it will shine, and I’ll play it over and over. I also really do play for people, want to find songs that will reach them, too. I enjoy that just as much, like playing “I’ve been Working on the Railroad” for kids, or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. But sometimes I just don’t know what will reach people, be familiar, give them a good experience. Sometimes it is as simple as wonderng whether I should play a slow, romantic song or something upbeat, should I play rock or bluegrass, reggea or country, jazz or folk, trditional or modern. The musical world is so diverse, and so is America, so you just can’t tell. And so much of my music is, like me, not very modern. I feel that lack, that I haven’t been learning new material, modern songs. Or the similiar lack of latin music I mentioned, when it really is a part of my life, personally, though not musically.

Another thread of thought is that for the last couple years I’ve felt I might have to leave the street behind to “do more” with the music. Practically, I was taking time off to focus on producing recordings and the website, where performing was a distraction. In the largeropicture, if I am to start a new routine, I have to force myself to leave behind my old one, the effective, practically successful, and comfortable routine I had playing the street, and a few small festivals and venues along the way. I still often feel the oddness of someone like me playing on the street. In America, all too often, the street is not a professional scene like Europe, but full of unprofessionalism in both attitude and ability. It is often depressiong to be part of that scene, and it is why I often move away to the fringes, but that also means going away from the crowds and the “good spots”. Yet what other options are there, practically? I am who I am, and I cannot force myself to play where I do not want to and make great music. And despite the problems and drawbacks, I can usually make more money on the street than venues are willing to pay, a simple truth I can’t ignore. The street is something I have done, and done well. I have been a prince of the street. It is effective, I reach people, and make personal connections that are impossible from the stage. In terms of promoting the website, it might be more effective than anything else I do. When it comes down to it, the dulcimer is a powerfully impressive experience, live and in front of you. I have to stand back sometimes and appreciate it.

It has and does really give me a lot, and I owe it a lot. From all the scenes, the theatre of the street, to the fact that it has paid most of the bills. The street was the only venue I could count on my whole career, otherwise, I don’t know what I would have done. The electric dulcimer might not exist but for the street, where the people who heard me play were willing to support what I did, and kept me going, when venues and the official channels wouldn’t even give me a chance. I am proud that I have been supported by literally tens of thousands of people who each contributed their small donation. I never asked for anything, and only accepted money from people who really listened and really wanted to support the music, who wanted to give me something in return for what they felt they had recieved, glad to do so, often telling me outright in many different ways and words, but their meaning was clear. I am proud of all I have done there, playing for everyone, making magic moments in people’s lives, real moments, moments of terrible beauty. From hard living street folk to kids in the playground, I was there, playing for the people, all the People, and the People supported me. It has been a priviledge and an honor to serve them, and to be given their support. I am proud to have been a prince of the street, in that strange, wild, hard, and pragmatically real place and community. I proved what I was, there, a fire burning bright.

For me there is a deeply spiritual aspect to the street. The music “busisiness” did not exist on the street. It is where the People are, where life is, in all its terrible beauty. The street is a universal place, where all can be found. It is an ancient place, and ancient energy. The foundation of my life is a spiritual and philosophical one, The Way, and the street was the place I came to and stayed. It was a good match for me. A simple path, where I was free to do what moved me, to wander without thought, following some strange thread that led from scene to scene. A Place where there was such deep roots, deep patterns, a tradition without doctrine, natural pattern without routine, spontianeous and predictable as nature itself. It is a beautiful dance. I came out of the wilderness to speak with them, meet them, try to reach them, to be at the right place at the right time to do or say the right thing that might move them some incremental step towards a higher consciousness, no matter how small, to give them some moment of beauty, intensity, wonder. And the music was part of that, singing the songs, telling the stories. I asked for nothing, but everywhere people wanted to give me something, and it was I hwho had to learn to accept. Accept that what I was doing had intrinsic and undenaiable value, and people wanted to give me something in return, to support what I was doing, what I was being. It was all part of this ancient role I fell into, this part I came to play, as it has been played for thousands of years, on so many streets, by others like me. I was proud to follow in their footsteps, known and unknown. It is magic, to make a child smile, to shine a light into darkness, something real into atificiality, to touch someone’s heart and soul, remind them what is there, and the depth that is in life. A small thing, I have chosen a life of small things, so many small things. You could say that I put the dulcimer on my sholder and took a walk about, and now, so many decades later, here I am, still there.

I could write pages more to try to explain, to tell the story of the street. I could describe some of the thousands of scenes I have lived through. What I said and did, tried to teach. And so much I learned. If the wilderness was home to me, and my gypsy wagon my house upon the road, the street was where I lived, out among the people, a folksinger. I was living something more real and true, more ancient and deep, than any screen or stage, anything the business and its monument of artificiality could offer me. Instead, I found a place of terrible beauty, and it has been my honor and priviledge to serve there.

acoustic arched back

Playing here in Alexandria I run up against the old issue of street performing and civil rights, always an issue in street peforming. That is part of what drew me to street performing, to be on the forefront of what this country, this republic, is really about. I am standing up to the forces of fascism, of authotarianism, of priviledge and power, of government and business, to demonstrate that my rights as an individual citizen prempt their authority, their desire and belief that they should have power over the people and their public places, like the street. I am absolutely serious. Street performing is a civil right. The City of Alexandria passed a law banning street performers back in the 70’s, and was challenged, and they fought it to the Supreme Court, where they lost, establishing on eof the earlier clear precidents that performing in public places is freedom of speech, and in subsequent cases, laws aimed at stopping street performing have been struck down, a judgement upheld over and over by the Supreme Court. I carry a file of papers outlining all the cases and and pertinent information, ready to provide to anyone wanting to challenge a local law. The simnple truth is, there are always those who want to impose their will upon others, who feel their wishes should be law, and that they should be able to impose their will upon others. Often while waving the flag and declaring their love of liberty and justice, their patriotism. while they actually trying to detroy liberty, justice, and the liberties this country was founded with and for.

Though in fact, these people keep passing new laws, unconstitutional though they may be, and they are enforced till they are challenged. Alexandria is a repeat offender as far as civil rights violations is concerned. Practically, I face the fact that I have been banned again. This time they banned amplifiers, and I play an electric instrument that cannot be heard without amplification. Blatantly unconsititutional, but they never cared about such petty details. You cannot ban a certain type of speech. If you can ban amplifiers, ie, electric instruments, then you could ban other specific types of speech, or speakers. Acording to the city, someone can beat on a drum as loud as they want, but not play quietly though an amplifier. It would be funny if their behavior was not so contemptable. The are un-American, anti-American, traitors to the cause of liberty, and perhaps the greatest threat to America, the traitors within. Hangin’s too good fer em!

Let me add, that a sound ordinance would be both reasonable and constitutional. That is “reasonable regulation” as defined by the Supreme Court as allowable under the Constitution, in that it effects all speech equally, and is blind to the content or type of speech. This has actually been decided before, but of course, places like Alexandria rarely consult the law, or a Constitutional lawyer, before they pass laws.

But for me, I do not stay in one place long enough to deal with court cases, so I pass it on to someone else who is local, providing them with the documentation. It is a $50,000 fine for violating civil rights. It takes years to fight it through the courts, a flaw of our system, that puts the burden upon the citizen to fight unjust and unconstitutional laws, so they often go unchallenged. I also am just tired of Alexandria and their un American attitudes, and took my energy elsewhere. It is their loss, not mine.

Still, I did go back, because I wanted to play for the people, and I am here. Though I ended up playing on the fringes, away from where most people are there, where I used to play, and instead play in the park, where mostly there are few people. I brings up old, hard feelings of being discriminated against, pushed to the fringes because I play the electric dulcimer, and not just in the street scene, but in the music business, and in the traditional music and dulcimer circles. But that is another story.

I actually tried putting the arched back on the dulcimer I made to try making it playable as an acoustic, so I wouldn’t have to worry anbout the anti-amplifier rules. But after one weekend I took it off. It just doesn;t work well enough, for one. But really, I just have made my choice, to build and play and electric instrument, which sounds great. I have done a great thing, building the electric, a great step forward. I was telling people how I am part of an unbroken chain of people playing this instrument that stretches back thousands of years, but I have actualy forged a new link in that chain, by adapting it to modern music and building the first solid-body electric. I am not retreating. I’ll either play it with the amp and get the rich sound I want or not play at all. I want to go forward, not go back, not try to be what I am not, just to conform to the arrogant stupidity of others.

In America there is an old and odd prejudice against street performing, just like there is against theater in general. And it is true that here as well, the street suffers from being unprofessional. I find it hard to perform in places dominated by panhandlers and sad amateurs, though I have to uphold the principle that the street is there for everyone. But personally, aesthetically, I don’t want to be lined up with people asking for money or hoping to get passing cash without really earning it with a real quality performance. Though I like meeting the new performers, encouraging them and giving them advice. I’d like to see more god players out on the street, even if it means I am crowded out. The whole issue of homelessness and poverty colors people’s attitudes and expectations of the street. There has been a dark side to the street, both with the law and with the scenes and situations. It has been hard to find places I felt good playing here in America, and often they have not lasted.

I even feel it here, in this journal, on my website, an inhibition to talk about street performing. Despite the fact that, practically, the street was and is the venue that is willing to support my efforts, being a street musician carries a stigma with many in the business, with venues, and with too many people in America. As I try to “do more” with the music, I feel the attitudes I have known. In other countries, they expect to see professionals playing in the street, quality performers. Americans tend to look at them as somehow not good enough, and ignoring the fact the the music business was in the business of being exclusive, not promoting artists, but maintaining a bottleneck and monopoly on the business of selling records, by as few artists as possible.

Though The industry has helped produce great music, I am never sure if it is because of the industry of whether it just exploited greatness. And of course, many artists were perfectly willing to do whatever it takes. I am trying to connect with that world in my promise to do more with the music. But I have often sadly watched as fairs and venues got bigger, they also stopped appreciating artists. Artists became cheap and replacable, of little value. Venues, fairs, and the music industry in general became disrespectful and dismissive, arrogant and inhospitable. I often said the best thing about playing outside America was not that I got more money, but that I got respect, for my talent, and the work that went into developing it, and doing it. One of the best things about playing the street, is I get respect, and sincere appreciation, which is priceless. It is hard for the music business to compete. And I fear that I won’t try that hard because of it, no matter my desire to make a sincere effort.

The street is not perfect, certainly. The jets roaring overhead, while I try and play in the few munites between. The kids in St Augustine who stole my money. There is the struggle to find a place to play where I feel comfortable and can make great music, and to find people to play for, overcoming that barrier so often between us. There are many time when I feel inhibited by negative connotations and stereotypes, by people’s distance or dismissive attitude, or fear of the cops or the criminals. I even struggle with myself, because I am naturally shy, unaggressive, unassuming, with nothing to prove, and I can find myself wondering if anyone really wants to listen despite all I’ve experienced through decades of playing.

But for a few weekends, there were lots of people in the park, with local festivals and the July 4th wekend, so I played. Though this last weekend there were few, I feel glad and satisfied to have been there for the people who were there. That is what I am here for. But the reality is, if I play where I cannot make enough in tips because there are so few people, even when they are glad to tip me, I cannot keep playing, but will have to do something else to make a living. This has always been the issue. Why I played the stret, where I could make enough to get by, instead of the festivals and venues that don’t pay enough to cover gas money, and expect you to have a job so you can afford to play for them at a loss, while they profit off your art and effort. The internet is too often like that, with websites that want you to capitalize on the content they expect you to provide for free. I’d rather play in the street, and volunteer in schools and senior center, and the many places I’ve stopped to play for people without wanting or needing anything in return. I have played for the People, and the People have supported me. That is a system I can respect.

Even the web is a big question mark. For though I have put content up for people, as a way to reach them, it has never paid for itself. But I saw it as part of the over all effort to serve. Yet as I try to do more with it, I have to face the fact that if it cannot pay for the effort, I have to limit the time I put into the web, or I can’t go on. I have and still believe that the web can work for artists, in many ways, just like the street, where great numbers of small donations from the people add up to a solid support for an artist’s hard work and dedication. But I don;t know, and tit hasn’t happened yet, though I am trying and this is the beginning of that effort

I don’t know how the street fits into the future. In some parts of the world it might not be a tradition, but in many places it is, and performers get the respect you seldom find in America. I am going to tour internationally next. And while I want to appear for as many people as possible, whether I can actually book tours is a question, whether I can get official support and recognition. Should I wait for a official “tour” that may never come, for a promoter or venues that may never appear? I already made that decision here in America, and have managed without them, playing the street. All the while I try to find ways to tour internationally, I know from experience I can just go, and I will get by on the street, I’ll have friends, and places to stay, and food to eat, and a ride to the next place I can play. What I am is obvious to the people, it is they who taught me what I am, and I am welcomed and supported, and I get by.

Though there is so much I do not know about the rest of the world, what to expect, and I don;t want to cause trouble or get in trouble. I’m told that in Japan, the street is controlled by the Mafia and you have to pay for a spot, which is not my way, either. So it seems that some sort of connection is needed. I have imagined finding collaborators, a musician or musicans to play with, as hosts and companions, to guide me though their countries, translating, and just speaking instead of me, singing in their language for the people, teaching me the local music, and showing me to their people, helping me be of service. Sort of the way an official or a promoter might, but at the level of the people, in the small places where the popel listen to music, and the working musicians play. It is a cool vision.

Music is a calling, not a business, for me. Though I am grateful to accept what people give, and I can only do music if I earn enough to get by, and what I do with the music, recording, touring, building dulcimers, putting content on the web, is directly limited by what resources I have. It is an old balance. One I feel lucky to have been able to manage without focusing on the money, but just focusing on the music, and still making enough to survive. Though theamount I make most would consider impossible to live on, I have managed, but I need little, or I have learned to live with little, and the music makes up for it. As I tell people, though many times I have doubts and regrets, in the middle of a song, life is great, and I have no regrets at all.

So I even have to wonder if street performing is really good for me, though it certainly has been good for me, feels good even know, but is it a trap as well? Has it just been too easy? As several people have told me, I am not a typical street performer. And a common question is for people to wonder why I am playng in the street.Though I believe that the electric dulcimer, and my style of playing, would never have survived without the street. I would have gone on to other things more effective in reaching people. Since for years my efforts were about that, not about the music, and it was a long time before I realized and accepted the value of the music itself, and its importance to me. I still tend to look at it as the dulcmer that is important, that is grat, not my music, and certainly not me. What I am doing is trying to get the electric dulcimer in the spotlight, so it will go on and have a life of its own, keep doing great things, magic scenes, after I have passed on.

These last weekends, though there were problems, it was great to be back, though it raised a lot of questions, and I wonder if I will do it again, here.
I am still satisfied with the street, myself. I know it has limits, I can only reach so many peope, and the other drawbacks mean I don;t play as much as I might. It is only this commitment to “do more” that makes me question whether the street is a limit I am putting on myself, on the dulcimer, and the music. I have so much respect for the street. I love it and hate it. But like Alaska, it will always be there for me, if I d need to leave it behind to really “do more” with the music. If its limits are something I need to transcend to make a sincere effort to do this right.

So, right now, while remaining committed to doing more, I am going back to playing the street as still a practical and effective venue, if there is nothing else that can compete with it, yet. Though it slows down the process. So much energy goes into playing, and I lose three days of the week, more or less. It also keeps the music alive and flowing, and it keeps me alive and shining. It was bad for me to go so long without playing, and without playing for people, interacting with people. The fact iss that the street was my social life as well, my way to be among and connect with people, and I know no other way. Though I have been trying to network, trying to get out, I have yet to find anything as good as the street for meeting people, and having a good time. And I am not stressed out trying to deal with no income while I make this effort to “do more”, which doesn’t pay, as investments in the future usually don’t. Recording, building dulcimers, building pickups, expanding the web presence, making videos, writing this journal, are all good things. But they don’t pay and I need to survive. One of the beauties of life on the edge of survival is that it is essentially practical and pragnatic, with no denials or pretense, but just reality.

Which means, there is much to do and I have to wrap this up. I have been working on this for days, while packing and visiting ma in the hospital. But I have to leave in under an hour, so I have to be done. This is a story I can’t finish in any one journal, which is why it is a journal. In another couple months I’ll be back with stories of what happened in Alaska.

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