It was another day at the Cherry Festival Tuesday April 16th. I arrived around 330 pm. It was already crowded with street performers. I still contend that there wasn’t a lot of street performance when I arrived in Hongdae in March of 2008. Now I cant take the credit for it, maybe it was only a coincidence and would have happened anyway, but there weren’t any others playing street when I came along. The weather was almost balmy around 2 PM. By the time I got ready to go, there were almost gale winds. It seemed that the heavenly powers were determined to ruin the cherry blossom festival this year. What would be next, locusts. I wondered if all the blossoms would blow away.
It seemed to me there was a lot of police presence tonight, maybe because of the bombing in Boston.
Met some really cool teenagers again today. Every once in a while you meet them. They are not like regular high school students. They are really interested in the arts and very sensitive. Today the one just kept looking me right in the eye. It wasn’t a flirtatious look or wanting anything except to be close to the source of the music. She was only 16 which means from 14-16 Korean age.
I walked directly to the same spot as yesterday. It was available but I knew that the other band would start up soon. The odius loudspeakers were silent now. Maybe talking to Minji, the woman who worked for the festival had helped. I started playing with my warm up song , “A Bientot”. The crippled beggar went by again. It seemed to take him forever this time because he kept stopping to count his money. I wasn’t feeling as benevolent as yesterday. Finally he passed by and I started playing.
I went over to the a new young singer that I didn’t know. He was kind of rude. “Oh I know Frank from Hongdae he told the crowd, “No. Sorry, no thanks.” But the thing was, he wasn’t very good. His singing was out of tune and so was his guitar. The only thing they had going for them was they were kind of good looking. A lot of Korean musicians pattern themselves after the Boy or Girls bands that dominate the market her.
I played the last 2 songs with the Rocking Horse Street Band. They are always nice and let me play even though the conga drummer is kind of a shit. The lead singer (who is not really a singer but more of a comedian) is really funny. He always makes me laugh. Today he tried to announce me homepage frankhongdaesax but it came out frankhongdaesex. That didn’t go over well since Koreans think all foreigners are playboys anyway. After about 40 seconds of going back and forth between hilarious laughter I used me straight saxophone like a gun and tried to shoot him. It got a laugh.
After that I went to sit in with Soundbox again. As usual they welcomed me and gave me a seat and a microphone, even if the seat was next to the booming drummer. I was a little worried about Grenna and her saxophone. It was hard to play with her because she didn’t have a good sound yet and she really hadn’t mastered her instrument yet. I have a lot of respect for her and her musical abilities when it comes to singing, stage presence and song writing, but the sax playing just isn’t happening yet. She doesn’t let that stop her though and plays even though the sound is bad. The other band members don’t say anything either.
So I sat down and was prepared for the worst. Right on she started playing with a bad sound. I braced myself and then I had a great idea. “Grenna, play what I play”. I played a simple line and after about 10 seconds she repeated it (it took a long time actually). Then I told her to just repeat it and she did. I played along with her, then I harmonized the line and guess what, suddenly we were a horn section. It sounded great. Everyone in the band turned to us and smiled. I started feeding her lines and telling her what to play, and she did and it sounded great. In harmony, her weak sound was covered up and all you heard was the harmnony. Grenna loved it to because suddenly she sounded good.
She kept asking me, “Frank what should I play? Give me something to play?” So I just told her. Grenna, you are a singer. Sing something. That was easy and she sang a beautiful line. Ok now play that. It took her a long time and at first she didn’t want to spend the energy to figure it out but after about 10 seconds she figured it out. Ok from now on Grenna you play what you sing. She looked dazed as if she had never thought of that before. I think from now on things will be different and what started out as a really bad situation turned itself into a potentially very good situation because playing in a horn section is so fun.