Hatless with my twelve-string and Blues Harp
and Baron with his Pan Drum
I’m so sorry for my blog being late this week but … the Boston Bruins playing the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup Finals! In Canada, readers from elsewhere, hockey is a religion. And why do I hope for the Boston Bruins, even though my late brother-in-law, Larry Hornung, scouted for the Maple Leafs (Pat Quinn attended Larry’s funeral)? I’ll give you my good reasons why: The Boston Bruins I remember with whatever romantic nostalgia that besmirches me have Derek Sanderson (asking to wear white skates after Broadway Joe decided to wear white cleats), have Bobby Orr (the greatest hockey player ever in the world), and Don Cherry (the most colorful coach ever in the NHL). And last, my NHL buddy, Billy Lesuk, who played for Stanley Cup winning Bruins in 1970, and re-joined them as a scout in 2005.
Cap-a-pie, I’ll begin and stay with my headbone. Over my busking years I’ve gathered a dozen ball-type caps (I AMSTERDAM my favorite), a few tams (even a green plaid for St. Paddy’s Day), and three perfect cowboy hats (a CHARLIE 1 HORSE RIDE white straw for hot and sunny days, a WRANGLER 4X BEAVER black for my cowboy persona, an olive BRIXTON TILLER, my Springtime suave).
Moving south down my headbone, I play three different harmonicas. My very first harmonica was a HOHNER BLUESBAND, my second a HOHNER BLUES HARP, and my third a SUZUKI TREMOLO. When I purchased my Blues Band, the vendor mentioned that one can either play a harmonica (easily) or not play (even with practice), when accompanying a guitar. Within 30 minutes of blowing my Blues Band while strumming my 12 string, the harmonica paid for itself and … its 20 dollar rack!
I quickly outgrew the Blues Band. Within a few busks I was running out of notes up the scale. Buying the Blues Harp changed everything. With the Blues Harp I really am the quintessential guitar folk and blues busker. I purchased the Suzuki Tremolo on a whim. For busking I find it to be a complete waste; for gigs I find it is awesome.
All three of my harmonicas are in the key of C. And here is just one of many secrets in the subject of BUSKOLOGY: Thrum your guitar in G, blow anywhere on your C harmonica, and your consumers will think you’re a pro.
Hats and harmonicas have become an identity thing (for me). When I began busking I played only the guitar. Those days I was the concrete buskeroo wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. My harmonicas have made me a folk artist, and I continue to nurture this identity with my hats and harmonicas.
Such hat and harmonica decisions seem small, but are really big buskology boosters for me. Not in a strange way, they give me the courage to busk with authority. Hats and harmonicas raise me from a performance that is middling, to one that is maxixe. Hatless, I am button-down; hatful I am truly my buskeroo self.
Duck (and other) costumes are infra dig; whereas, cowboy hats are urbane. Duck (and other) costumes transmogrify; whereas, cowboy hats are translucent.
Three characters that marched in my Chaucerian Parade this week:
- The twenty something skeleton with a bedraggled looking toddler in arm. I need a dollar for dialysis, she said.
- The fifty year old grey man hugging a life size Raggedy Anne who just stared at me while waiting for his taxi.
The man in the black business suit ASKED IF I WANTED A JOB and handed me the card that read:
A FRESH START –
A PLAN THAT WORKS
A PLAN THAT WORKS
And my BOSTON BRUINS …
First we take Toronto -- now we take New York!