One of my favorite elements of being a street performer is how unpredictable everything is. In a corporate nine-to-five position, you can rely on that paycheck every two weeks, whatever amount it may be. You know what time your work day begins and ends, as well as what days you have off. Many occupations have little that changes, sometimes remaining the same over decades. For the most part, the rest of the lifestyle is planned around the work schedule.
In my experience as a busker thus far, one of the only things you can rely on is the idea that just about every element of street performing is subject to unpredictability. Saturday’s can have Tuesday-like traffic, and vice versa. Zero percent chance of rain can mean three hours of downpour. That three person crowd could have two $20’s in it just waiting to be given to you. There are so many dice in play simultaneously, you really just have to keep your eyes and ears open and be ready for anything.
I once witnessed a group of musicians that used to busk in NOLA get asked to play a song one night while they were walking through Frenchman street with their instrument cases. This group never played on Frenchman before, and really had no intention to, but since they were asked, they set the case down and played a single song. Seven minutes and $70 later, they picked up their jaws and instrument case off the ground and walked off in a joyous stupor. What makes this occupation so exciting is that you never know what's going to happen. If you're not comfortable with the unknown, then mayhaps busking is not right for you. This job has high highs and low lows, but the key to success is knowing how to ride the waves without taking any of the success or failures personally. Have faith in yourself and in the Universe, and busking can take you on an adventure around the world.
I've been shifting gears back into travel mode over the last few weeks. I'm out of the house I'd been renting, couch surfing for a week or so before heading out to Florida. The week between Jazzfest weekends was supposed to be the last light at the end of the tunnel, but it ended up raining most of the week.
For an act like magic, which requires a trace of an attention span in order to work, events like Jazzfest, Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, etc. actually end up doing more harm than good. I have loved beginning my street career in New Orleans because of the challenge of so many distractions, but with super-events like those, the streets get too crowded, too hectic, too drunk. Throughout the Jazzfest weekends, the town does fill up full of tourists, but most of them are at the fairgrounds from noon to eight all weekend. Jackson Square and Royal Street end up looking like a Tuesday in the summer season. I am really excited to travel to a new location that doesn't have so many distractions, I believe the skills I've learned in my N'awlin's training grounds will serve me well wherever I go.
I've been doing upgrades to the bike, strapping my luggage back onto it, and gearing up for the 5,000 mile trip back to Seattle. The idea of crossing Canada all the way up to Alaska has crossed my mind, but I'm starting to think maybe I oughta put a 15,000 mile cap for my first year as a motorcyclist. The experience of traveling while making magic has filled my soul, and I am incredibly grateful.
I'll end with a fun little sketch a street artists drew =)