Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Some Play the Piano, Some the Violin. All Wanted to be Paid.

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seattle-piano-x

seattle-violinist-x

It’s Memorial Day weekend in Seattle in 2014. I’m staying over during a train trip that would see me cross the United States on Amtrak and across Canada on VIA Rail Canada.

I had most of the day to enjoy Seattle and set out for Pike Place Market. With so many people in town for the weekend, it was no surprise that the street musicians were out trying to hustle a buck.

That these musicians are in it for the money is without a doubt. Jonny the piano player has a sign asking photographers to give him a tip and a large blue jar perched atop his piano.

The violinists have a large plastic jug with an enlarged reproduction of a dollar bill affixed to it. There is nothing subtle about what these guys want.

Jonny has more in mind other than entertaining passersby and making a few dollars. He also wants to educate you about the dangers of genetic engineering.

As for the violinists, they just want to play and get paid. They have no political agendas to promote.

The violinists are young, perhaps college students trying to make some extra money. Jonny, though, looks like an aging hippie trying to change the world.

I’ve often wondered what the stories are behind street musicians. Why are they performing on the street rather than on a stage for customers who bought a ticket to get in.

Their stories probably vary. Some might be sad, some might be tragic, some might be pragmatic. All of them must have interesting stories to tell about playing on the street.

Whatever the case, street musicians and entertainers are part of the fabric of city streets in America and represent a purer form of capitalism than that practiced by the giant corporations that own the buildings surrounding those musicians.

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