To the generous patron:
To the generous patron with the large bill that approached me at my show last night:
When I asked if I could bring you change you laughed. You played it off like it was nothing. You insisted that it was a fair exchange. You thanked me for my music and you disappeared before you could see the tears that your kindness had brought to my eyes.
You have no idea what that meant.
Two days ago I set myself up for a street performance set in a pedestrian tunnel near a high end business complex on a whim. It was midday, time for lunch dates and shopping.
I played for an hour and a half. Lots of people passed, a few made eye contact and smiled, one stopped to apologize for her lack of cash to contribute to my box, and at the end of it all I was $2 poorer for having paid for parking.
I know a lot of people that would consider that a failure, especially since it was my first time there, but I was anything but disappointed. I had had a blast singing in the tunnel, playing with the acoustics, I felt inspired to play with effects and echoes after having heard my voice bounce back at me in a way I'd never heard before. That in and of itself was totally worth the time I had spent there.
As I packed up my things I was thankful for the people that had made eye contact and smiled on their way back to their offices or their cars, they had wanted to stop but were in the middle of their days and had places to be. They gave me the currency they had, which was a smile or a thumbs up to let me know that I had contributed something positive to their day.
Even though no money made it into the box, I felt like there had been an exchange, and it was one that made me feel very fulfilled.
I left the tunnel, went immediately to the restaurant that I've been working at for the better part of 3.5 years and I quit.
I had been debating whether or not I should go back to work or if I should try my hand at being a full time musician. I have new equipment I want to buy before I head back out onto the road in May, I have credit card debt to pay off from my last tour, I have bills to pay and money to save for paying those bills while I'm gone on my next tour. Money is a big stressor for me right now, and waiting tables would certainly help ease that burden. But it hasn't felt right.
Playing on the street feels right. It is my way of putting myself out there. And all it takes is one person to stop, to say hello, to buy a CD, to share it with someone. That is how I want to connect with people, that is how I want people to connect with me. One person at a time, one song at a time, one connection at a time.
So when I arrived at the venue last night I was more than a little afraid that maybe I'd made the wrong decision. The dust had settled, the rush of excitement was waning, it was a new day, and suddenly I was having doubts that maybe my trust in myself and my music and my ability to connect wasn't as well placed as I thought. I was worried that my clip on nose ring and combat boot clad feet were not going to be embraced by the high end wine-bar atmosphere and clientele. I was looking for a sign to point me in the right direction, to let me know that I'd made the right choice, and that my trust in the process was valid.
And then you came along. Out of nowhere without knowing anything about me except that you had liked the handful of songs that you had heard that evening, you went out of your way to let me know that my music was something that was to be appreciated, and that that exchange was fair.
So to the generous patron at the venue last night: Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for connecting, for listening, and for encouraging and enabling me to do what I love and trust that all will work out so long as I continue to do the work. You have no idea what it meant.