Made a friend in Hollywood.
'Blues Man the Blues' he called himself. He told me that and then he asked for $5. Being in LA I am used to being asked fairly consistently throughout the day for money and usually don't mind helping out when I can, but five dollars seemed a bit steep. In fact the strangeness of it stopped me in my tracks just long enough for my brain to start wondering why he needed exactly five dollars. Then my ADD took over and it turned more to why he thought it was a better marketing approach to ask for it all from one person as opposed to spreading the arm around a bit so to speak. By this time it had been at least 30 seconds and I neeeded to move on or say something, so I did the first thing that came to my mind: asked for a trade.
"You a musician man?" Oh man, here we go. I continued "Is that why you call yourself The Blues Man?" He nodded and started to look around me, beginning to get impatient for someone to lend the fiver. I sensed his attention slipping away and maybe I should have taken the opportunity to save my money but something pushed me to continue our little back and forth. "Fine, I'll give you $5 but I want to hear a song. Are you a singer, guitar player, what?" I had a guitar, bass, banjo, and plenty more less than a block away and for the price of a pack of Camels I was fully willing to put my new friends claim to name to the test. "Nah man, I mean I sing a little now and then when the ladies wanna hear something sweet ya know? Harmonica though brother thats my thing. Been playing for 35 years baby and I play for anyone, anytime, all the time. I'm The Blues Man Blues I know ya heard of me!" I hadn't of course but I humoured him and mentioned something about how my ex's mother was a semi- famous harmonica player 'back in the day.' As if I was desperate for him to know that I too was surrounded by music- that he could trust me (although with what, I am not quite sure I could tell you) but I can't ever remember any specifics and he is too busy with the task at hand to really hear anything I am saying anyway. Out of a briefcase that looked to be from the 1970's he pulled 3 harmonicas, each a different length.
He looked slightly past me "What do you wanna hear brother?" Hmm, I hadn't thought out anything this far into the exchange. I was blanking on anything interesting to request so I said the first thing that came into my head "The blues man, I guess." He gave me a sideways grin "Yeah, the blues is always a good choice."
He began to play. Something beautiful yet raw, rambling but somehow focused upon with pinpoint accuracy. I stopped. Music is my life so when I can feel- literally feel, that vibe pouring from someone else I pay attention. After a minute or so he stopped and I asked him if I could snap a few pictures while he played me just one more song. He obliged and I began to shoot him while he gave me 2 and a half minutes of his soul.
It was one of the most wonderful and devastating things I have ever heard. Dude was great. I thanked him and reached into my pocket for the five, but all I could find was a crumpled up $10. Fair trade.
The people you meet.