It was my first real day without an amp, without a way to play street music. I spent the morning running around trying to find one that would work for me, with no great results. that left only playing with other people. By the time I got done with all that running around it was 5 pm. I went over to the place where near Powder Tower and met Ludska a pretty singer and guitarist. We talked for just a few minutes and then she agreed to meet me the next day at 3 to play. She looked very cool and had a big scrungie dog with her.
I kept walking and saw a trio made up of a guitar, bass, and sax. They were really friendly, especially Adam the guitarist. This guy couldnt stop smiling and was so polite and deferential to me. “Sure please join us”. Usually I wouldnt ask to join a group that already has a sax but hey I was a little desperate. I joined them and though it was a little awkward, I tried to fit in well. I let the other sax player take all the leads and took short solos when he let me. The other guys loved me, because truthfully I played better than their sax player but that wasnt important. We were just having fun.
They were playing right in front of the big concert hall where Wyton Marsailles would be performing the next day. I had thought about going to see him (I never had) and everytime I looked up there was a huge 60 foot long poster of him looking down from the building at us. He had this cool expression on his face like , “Yeah, well, what are you going to do man?” We had a great time playing. I stayed with them about an hour and then decided to leave because I didnt want to overstay my welcome (probably I did already) , and also I was scheduled to meet yana at 7. I went over to the tower and waited for her. It was a little boring and I wish I had had my amp. Normally I dont play so without any background but since there was no amp and I had to wait there anyway, I decided what the heck, I would try it. I played solo for about 20 minutes waiting for her (she was late). I think it forced me to be more creative. How could I make amazing music by myself? Sometimes it seemed possible for a few moments and then it slipped away. No one really stopped to listen.
Finally she came. We had agreed that she would walk around with me and I would show her a “streetmusic safari”. We checked in with the trio. They were still in the process of moving to the Powder Tower. We told them we would catch up later. We walked down to the square down the street. There was an acrobat who was doing well to capture a large crowd. We walked back the other way and saw two really old Czech guys playing clarinet and accordian. They were really great players, virtuosos I would say. Of course no one else noticed them. I asked if I could join them, and as expected they said no. Hey, thats all part of the game, rejection, acceptance, victory, and failure. Still we sat and listened. It wasnt enough somehow, I wanted to participate and so I invited yana to dance. Although she felt a bit uncomfortable, she accepted it. Almost immediately she changed and became very sensual. Wow, I guess dancing can do the trick sometimes. For a few moments I was the happiest guy in the world. I was dancing with a really beautiful Czech woman who was so excited to be doing something unusual and exciting in the streets of Prague. But then the music ended and things were back to normal. I wondered later if I could have done more with that dance. Its always hard to know, how to interpret words and signals especially if they conflict.
We heard some other music and upon tracking it down (safari, remember?) Upon finding the source of the music, it turned out to be just a store. The music was quite loud and it wasnt possible to play with that racket. I wanted to show yana a good time and remember I didnt have an amp so I thought, why not do a little street theater. My plan was to play along with the store music and yana would be the audience and pretend that it was the greatest thing she ever saw. About that time a strange swedish woman who was clearly tripping on Ecstacy (or else was borderline psychotic) started hovering around us. In what may have been a strategical mistake, I invited her to join us. Her job was to dance, however her dancing was too wierd and she kept wanted to wrestle me. Go figure. Anyway we started the skit and the store manager immediately came out and told us to move. We moved over about 5 meters then started up again. It was pretty strange. Of course no one appreciated our biting satirical comment on modern society (maybe because it was pretty stupid). yana started looking a little uncomfortable. We headed back to the tower to check on adams band, with the crazy swede tagging along. . they were set up now and glad to see me (except the sax player). I joined right in and yana seemed to enjoy the playing. I divided my time between Yana and the group. I felt like an opportunity was slipping by by now. Yana was settled in and how could I get her alone to see what she wanted to do. I asked her to walk around more but she said she was happy to stay and listen to Adams group. I could see I hadnt played my cards well. After another few songs, she said whe was tired and wanted to go home. I walked her to the station and we talked. On the way back I saw a duo , Laura, a singer, and Christian. She was a natural singer with a great presence (wink wink) and he was a steady guitarist. somethign about the way they played worked really well. Of course I asked if I could join them and luckily they were happy to have me. It was fun, and Laura was really nice to play with. after about 3 songs I decided not to wear out my welcome and went to leave, but not before getting her number in case we wanted to play again. She said they might play down by the river later. When I got back to the tower, adams band was gone.
I walked around a bit, back to the place where I had met adams band. There was a large crowd of people, maybe 100. The group in the middle was a trio that consisted of a woman drummer on a snare drum, a guitar and a bass player. They were playing old jazz songs but the way they were playing them was unique. Pavel the bass player was also playing other instruments like kazoo and also singing in a very challenging way, in different keys, and with funny sounds. It was out there but it all fit in. They were obviously talented musicians. The crowd responded. They were mesmerized. thats what we love to do to audiences. the rythym was driving and varied and the guitarist was great. They looked so cool too with funny funky hats and very good looking especially Pavel and his girlfriend hanka. I took a risk and asked if I could play (even though I thought i didnt belong in such a good band. When I asked Pavel gave me a disarming smile and said “Sure”. This band was kick ass fun. Everthing was laughing and new. Hanka laughed at my jokes. “Hey Hanka isnt it nice to play for a romantic couple like that one sitting in front of us. “ The couple I refered to was a really drunk and sloppy couple that was living on the street. She kept yelling and slugging him. Hanka lost it when I said that and almost dropped the beat. I felt that I had come home now. And again they were so nice to me. Bending over backwards to accomadate me. About that Slovakia that I had met earlier in the day at Starbucks (which is my office in the morning) came by. i had told them I would be there. they were amazed to see me playing after talking to me. We played until 10 (30 minutes past curfew….but rules didnt apply to this magic band) . they wanted to give me some money but I refused (this was their living afterall), but suggested getting some food. With the Slovaks tagging along we went to a place that served junky food and I declined, partly out of not wanted to spend their money, and partly about not eating garbage (I was on the travellers peanut, yogurt, tomato, bread, apple and coffee diet.) About that time I got a message from Laura. She wanted to know if I was coming. I showed the message to Pavel and he said that he would drive me down there. Amazing. it was actually close to my hostel. We all jammed into a station wagon barely. I had to sit with a 80 pound battery on my lap. Peter the guitarist wasnt too thrilled. He had a date with his wife. But the generosity of Pavel overruled even that. We got down to the river side to find hundreds of people hanging out there. it was a scence. We walked about 10 mintues and amazingingly found laura and christian. Peter took off and Pavel and hanka sat down to jam with laura and peter. it was magical really . the only way to describe it. We played on and sat by the large river with the Prague Castle looming huge in the distance. the thousand spires were our silent audience as well as passersby who filed by. We played till 3. A magical end to a magical day….without an amp.