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Monday, April 03, 2006

My Baby

Choked-back tears for dinner the other night. My Dinner gig, it should be explained, although quite lucrative for me over the last three years, is on the edge of being an outdoor gig. I'm in a room attached to the restaurant that is made of canvas on three sides and the roof. The front is usually open to the sidewalk where there are more tables for the sidewalk cafe. I play to my room and the sidewalk diners. It works well. I keep those waiting to get in entertained, and I keep the outside diners entertained and I get a fair share of passersby. Tips are usually quite good. It's a money/exposure gig. Not an artistic achievement. But I'm kind of a branch sticking out into a stream, catching everything that passes by.

Thursday night, I could see in my periphery a woman who appeared to be, by posture and profile, in her thirties. She sat alone on a bench, listening to me. She came to attention when I did the Who's Behind Blue Eyes. Her applause was enthusiastic and I said, "Thanks, you like that one, huh?" She said she did and asked me if i could play You Are My Sunshine. I couldn't remember the changes and said no. I started to do the Beatles Here Comes the Sun but found I couldn't yet handle the fingerpicking with a cut under my middle fingernail. I was apologetic. She was understanding and then explained that You Are My Sunshine was her "Baby's" favorite song. "He died a year ago today, " she said. I'm sure my response was appropriate but you can never say the perfect thing in this situation. She told me her baby was 23 years old. I was stunned and told her she didn't look that much older than 23 herself. I didn't feel this was taken as a come-on line. But she told me she was 50. I told her she looked fantastic. "Brilliant," I'm thinking too late, "I'm giving pick-up lines to a woman in grief." Well, she was in the shadows. She didn't look anywhere near fifty. Under the harsh glare of sunshine, perhaps, I might have seen the toll her sadness took on her face. She said she was brand new to Venice and asked if I played here all the time. I told her to take my card and check my web site for my gig calendar. She was thankful and then took off. I saw her staring into the closed antique and redemption shops across the street later on. Turning to each dusty object like a page in a scrapbook. I knew she could hear me from there when I sang, by request, Bill Withers' Ain't' No Sunshine.

I was deeply moved to be reminded that your baby is always your baby. Cathy reminded me later that when her Mom was in the last weeks of her life, suffering from degenerative Alzheimer's, she cuddled her and said, "My baby! What's your name again?"

Yeah, that's gotta be a song but later. I'm too choked to get a thought down in verse.

Saturday's Bella Luna gig was the last one there until November. And as Diane Salhoff, a beautiful singer said, "It was titsaranious!" Diane was flying high after she and her husband Jim performed some of Jim's songs, with me on harmonica. They were terrific and I think we've successfully seduced Diane into thinking about gigging more regularly. That, I guess, is the working definition of "Titsaranious."

It was an extremely fun night and I opened the mic a bit after that for a family to sing songs to one another. Very tender moments there. I was unsuccessful, however, in getting Cathy, or my trainer Jitka, or any of the Bella Luna staff to sing a song.

My harmonica debut, apparently didn't suck. Even though harmonica is just a constant succession of sucking and blowing. So I'll do that more often. Carie Pigeon would have been proud of me. She was gigging in St. Petersburg. I'll have to arrange a pop-in on her after my dinner gig when she plays the season closer at Bella in two weeks.

Happy Monday, everybody. I hope you're not late for work today. I'll be to Yoga on time.

posted by Bud @ 5:33 AM

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