And to think, when I woke up last Sunday I thought the best thing that would happen to me was putting on new underwear!And to think, when I woke up last Sunday I thought the best thing that would happen to me was putting on new underwear! (Because I finally got around to replacing my elderly, tattered ones. And yes, it is kinda sad that this would be so exciting.)
The really scary part is that we almost didn’t do Sunday. Sketch had to move his art studio because the building it was in had just been sold and told me Friday that he might not be able to do the weekend. I said, “Can we skip Monday instead? Sunday has been really good to us.” Fortunately, he agreed.
So we came in to Pike Place Market on Sunday and were able to get the 10am and noon sets on our favorite busking spot. Our first set was a bit over $37 each (not bad at all) and then our second set was amazing. I don’t recall seeing that many bills larger than singles in a given set before. Two 20’s, a 10, and half a dozen 5’s. Add in the 1’s and the chump change and our second set was a bit over $67 each.
Do the math kids. That’s right, we each took home $100 (plus small change) for our two hours of playing. And Sketch was able to leave the market by about 1:30pm and still get some moving done.
It’s really not just the best this year, but in the top busking days ever!
This past Sunday I did a class A “screw the pooch” maneuver. I could’ve avoided it altogether if I’d just paid attention to the terse advice Han gave to Luke way back in that first Star Wars movie. But I’m getting somewhat ahead of the story. It went something like this…
Until the Monday previous to this tale, the winter busking had been nearly entirely dismal. We (Hobbit & Hare) kept hoping for a sign that busking season had opened up, but we were barely getting blips on the proverbial graph. That Monday, for the first time this year, we managed to cross $50 each for a two set day. Our Thursday was a trifle lame, but on Friday we did slightly better than Monday. Excitement ensued. We decided that, with the holiday weekend and all, we’d give a try Sunday at Pike Place Market to see what we could do.
Turns out we could do surprisingly well. We got there in time to claim the 10am slot at our favorite busking spot, the Joe Desimone Bridge. For the first 30 minutes of our allotted hour the money was coming in at a very nice pace. Then, around the 35 minute mark, I broke a string.
Were I still playing guitar, that would be no big problem. As long as I had a replacement string, or the string broke at the bridge and I had space to repair it, I could be up and flying in 5 minutes or so. A ukulele’s nylon strings take a day or so to settle in. The busking day was over.
Fortunately, ukulele strings don’t break very often. I think this string was like number 12 in the 14 or so years I’ve been seriously banging on the uke. I had busking weeks with guitar where I broke more than 12 strings. Unfortunately, that leads to a false sense of security on the subject. And it’s right there that the poor old pooch got it.
See, I own 2 nice acoustic ukulele and 2 that I can plug into a sound system. I bought the second of each type specifically because I was concerned that when the rare string broke, it’d be barely into one of my paid shows. If you suddenly have to stop the show when busking it’s a bummer. If that happens at a paid gig you’ve managed to not only put a black mark on the ol’ reputation, but also to spoil someone else’s special event.
That’s a Bozo No No, Timmy.
Since I was so laser focussed on the paid gig aspect, and one of my constant rules in busking is to carry the least amount of gear possible, I let the overconfidence take charge and didn’t carry the spare on busking jaunts.
In short, I didn’t listen to Han when he said:
You can’t really tell how a busking crowd is going to react from one minute to the next, but we were well on track to having a set where each of us cleared $50+ when that string snapped. That’s very disheartening. Especially when it’s the result of your own fuck up.
So I’m going to listen to Han from now on and also to that other philosopher, Blind Blake, who said, “That’ll never happen no more.”
Come join Hobbit & Hare at the Arts In Nature Festival in West Seattle. This two day festival takes place at Camp Long on Saturday, August 26th from 11am until 9pm and on Sunday the 27th from 11am until 6pm.
The festival brings together artists, musicians, and other performers and presents them on various stages and areas throughout a beautiful park that was once upon a time a wealthy early settler’s private hunting preserve. It’s almost like going back to the ‘hood for me as I not only have played it once before, but also lived for six or seven years about a half-dozen houses south of the main entrance (35th Ave SW and SW Dawson St). My house’s backyard ended at Camp Long’s fence! I used to get raccoons visiting my kitchen from their home in Camp Long. The raccoons would come in to chow down on my cat’s food, much to their little feline chagrin!
Hobbit & Hare will be playing at the entrance to the main lodge on Saturday from 11:30am until 1pm.
Hobbit & Hare are excited to play the Royal Room! We’ll be opening for the Savoy Night Owls. They’re a quintet doing jazz standards featuring Queenie Sunshine on vocals. (And if you pay attention I bet you’ll recognize the drummer.)
Doors open at 6:30 so you’ll have plenty of time to find a good seat and enjoy a nice meal before the show starts at 8pm. It’s going to be a jazzy evening! Hope to see you there.
Back on the 11th Hobbit & Hare played at the Gathering Grounds coffeehouse in Sultan, WA. My sweetie went along and snapped some pictures of us (using my phone) as well as getting a video of our last song. I had intended to give her the proverbial high sign a few times while we played in order to get more video, but I forgot.
Fortunately, she remembered.
Quick note for you tl;dr people. The video is at the bottom of the page.
Unfortunately, the lighting in the place wasn’t quite right for the video camera and the vid turned out really dark. I figured I’d sniff around on the Play Store for a video app that would let me jack about with the brightness and contrast so I could fix these sort of issues when they, inevitably, arose again.
So I sniffed around, downloaded several that showed up in my search, but it wasn’t until the third one that I found brightness and contrast adjustments. I tried it out and it seemed to work fine, except that when it came to saving, you got fed off into an ad. What joy! Not going to buy the thing if I don’t know whether iMovie will deal with the output. I kept searching but with no more luck.
I decided to give the close one another try. I reinstalled, did the adjustments, and lo! It actually saved the thing. Furthermore, iMovie agreed that it was indeed a video file it could chew on. The only drawback is that they’d put these big, broad, white stripes at the top and bottom, with a watermark in the bottom one.
No big deal. They’d made it plain that this was just the trial version. Certainly the ugly watermark shtick would go away with the “pro” version, right? So I uninstalled yet again, searched up the pro version on the App Store, paid my $9.99 (plus tax), and hit another reinstall.
Now it’s time to fire up the program–hey! cleaner UI, no ads!–load the video, do the adjustments, and save it out. It all went well. Now we’ll open it up in iMovie and… drumroll, please…
It still put the two damn white bars on the thing! But that’s not enough. Oh no, kids! On closer examination in iMovie, it turns out that the other program basically shrinks the video size down by half (in both height and width) and, to frost the fucking cake, reduces the definition. Even going back in and cropping the video doesn’t work. It just sticks the white bars and grey space back on.
So… several days have gone by now and I’ve edited the video three times. I finally decided just to make it a plain, one camera angle thing. At least the dark video has been mostly rescued.
It. Should. Not. Be. So. Difficult!
All the code to do all this stuff already exists. But the app writers are bent on a path of dumbing down the software to meet their idea of how dumb the users are.
OK. Thanks for putting up with my rant. Here’s the video. Check it out and let me know if it’s worth the trouble next time. If you like it, please share!
If for some reason the embedded video isn’t working you can watch it here.
home of Howlin' Hobbit, Ukulele Ace & Seattle Busker