July 8th 2013
They say when one door closes, another one opens. On Sunday, the unthinkable thing happened, I broke my precious amp. I have been busy trying to find a replacement. that gets expensive and messy. Batteries, recharable batteries, heavy amps. Anyway on Monday I was ampless. I tried playing it for awhle but in the end it would only work for about 20 minutes. What to do? Should I forget it, or walk around and try to find others to play with. I chose the later; walk around. There are musicians up and down the street. I came to a corner I had played before and there was a trio, guitar, bass, and sax. The sax player was older and very good. Very smooth, on the verge of schmalzy, but classy. I listened awhile. I knew they were better than me, but I was desperate to play and so I asked them and they said sure. We played really old but great songs like Cuando, Cuando, Cuando. It taked my ear a lot and I wanted to play well. In the end I played mostly background. The sax player didnt want me to solo, but the guitarist who was really kind insisted. I did ok. They enjoyed it. I played another and then went across the street to listen. Iwas struck by the fact that, no one was listening even though they were good. It made me realize that you might be good and still get no listens.
There was still 30 mintues to meet Angelos for the second time. As I walked around looking on my saxophone safari, I made eye contact with a pretty woman and she smiled at me. I got my courage and said hello even though she was wearing headphones. Surprisingly, she was very friendly and when I told her what I was doing, she wanted to join me. Amazing. She was born in a village and then moved to a small town and now was in prague alone for 8 weeks doing an internship. Maybe thats why she smiled, she was from a small town. We set off together. I was glad to have a friend to share my experiences with, even if she had a boyfriend, which she told me pretty quickly. Along the way we saw a blacksmith’s workshop set up right in the busy square. They were making coins out of metal and selling them. As I was watching , I was holding the sax by its strap. Suddenly it broke and the sax fell hard on the ground. Probably the sax was ok because it was in a good case, but when I looked at the clasp on the sax, it was really broken. It was a loss. Funny how every thing you have when you travel becomes precious. It would be hard to replace. My bad luck continued. Luckily there was a blacksmith right there. I went right up and asked them if they could weld a ring onto the strap. Unfortunately they said they didnt have a ring handy (some blacksmith!), but maybe on wednesday.
We went out in search of Angelos. After about 10 minutes he came, and I was relieved because now Yanna believed me. We played for awhile and yanna seemed to enjoy it. She was tired though from working and so she left. i was left with Angelos. We played under a famous landmark called the Powder Tower. I was feeling so so about playing with him still, but there was no other option what with my amp broken. After playing Angelos sad songs I heard a piano playing, and it was playing a song I knew. It was a song I knew from Korea called A River Runs Through It, by Yiruma. I love that song. I often play it when I play street music. I told Angelos to play a song alone and I went over to investigate. Thats how I met Frankishek.
He told me later that when he saw me walk up with saxophone in hand, he thought I was going to yell at him for being too close or maybe kick his ass. Instead, even before I reached him, and without asking, I started playing with him and luckily it sounded great from the start. He wasnt playing music that was technically hard, it was minimalistic, and somehow it sounded so cool. He was playing a small electric keyboard with a battery amp attached. his eyes got wide as I played and he loved it. When we finished he immediately went to his case which was full of coins and gave me about 6 dollars in coins. So generous and unexpected. I played another song with him and really it sounded amazing. People were gathering to listen. Frankishek was wearing very wild clothes and a cool hat and shades. That added to it. Plus he was a very nice looking young man. I found out later that he was still in high school. !9. He said that was normal in Czech but Im not so sure. I found out he lives with his single mom, doesnt remember his dad, and his mom sends him out to play music everyday. In his good days he could make 30 an hour. But these days its less. After the second song I remembered Angelos over there. I rushed over feeling guilty. He looked a little sad. Maybe he thought I deserted him (I did) and that I was a street sax whore (I am) but still I had some loyalty. I went back and played a few more depressing songs with him. then he said he was tired and wanted to go home. It was only 9 pm but I agreed (readily). he said he would take Tuesday off and I feigned disappointment. Now free to go with Frankishek I went over and he was glad to see me. We played more songs. The funny thing was that he had only a few songs he played. Street musicians can do that. Actually you need only 2 songs. One song and an encore. so we played a few songs. Then he played some song he didnt know the name of , some French song. We called it the French Song. Then we played a chord progression that he made up . It was perfect, caught midway between jazz and rock. I liked it and the first thing I played was (luckily) a perfect melody. It stopped everyone. The notes hung in the air like smoke after fireworks. He didnt have a name for it so we gave it the name Powder Tower, because thats where we were. so we called out songs as we played, lets play the French song, lets play the Powder Tower, Lets play Yiruma. Every once in a while Korean would walk by when we were playing Yiruma. We could tell they were Korean because their ears pricked up. We kept playing and playing, having a great time. Sometimes I played jazz (he had an amp!) and sometimes we played one of his songs. By the way, his name Frankishek is also my name…..its Frank in Czech. So we were Frank and Frankishek. We decided for our stage name to change names, so I was Frankishek and he became Frank. At about 1030 a police car pulled up. I had heard there was a curfew for street musicians at 930, but I wasnt sure if it was enforced. Guess what? It was. A monster of a man in full gear (gun, stick, spray, and crazy muscles) charged at us. I thought it was all over. He started yelling at Frank, but didnt even look at me. I did my best to look repentant and humble. finally they left in a huff. Ok, 930 meant 930. It was time to go. We walked over to sit down and divide the money. Frank was really careful about that. He had 1000 kron in his bag plus a dollar and a bunch of Euros. Since he was there before me, he took 700 and I took 300 and the foreign money. It was good.
It was late. Time to walk to the hostel. It was ok there, but usually not too friendly but you never know. I walked past the gold crowned National Theater. The bright lines shining on the roof attracted bugs and the bugs attracted hundreds of white birds. They looked like flickering spirits dashing in and out of the light. When I got to the hostel, some rowdy travelers some my sax and insisted that I play for the romantic couple (they had just met) the manager said ok so I did and then went to bed. One door closed another opened. I would still try to fix the amp, but tuesday I would fail, and the other door opened even wider. But that is another story ….for tomorrow