we are the ancients

Yesterday I played a street show, sponsored by the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District.

I played acoustic guitar and I had a small sound system in a cute red wagon that they give you to pull around and set up your stage.

I played near the bus stop where a lot of people catch the buses.

One thing was that it was right across the street from the very cool 7th Street Entry, part of the First Avenue concert venue where I'm playing this Friday with my trio.

That was fun because I could tell people, "well, I'm out here on the sidewalk today, but Friday night I'm playing over there on the stage!"

Anyway, a lot of different people passed me as I was singing.

Many young people, some Black, some White, some Native American, threw dollar bills in to my tip jar.

Some older men did too.

One older couple bought my new album and threw in an extra five dollars too.

There was a big show at the theater down the street and there were some well dressed couples trying very hard to look cool because the theater show was KT Tunstall and Squeeze.

The trying to be cool couples were all getting dropped off by Lift or Uber right in front of me on the sidewalk.

Not one, and I'm not kidding, not one of those couples made eye contact with me, even though they were scrambling out of cars and getting their bearings an standing right in front of me while they checked their phones.

I was pretty loud, with a microphone and everything, and they just forced themselves not to look at me even though I was looking right at them.


Stupid fear.

"Is she a weirdo? Will she try to part us from our hard earned dollars? Do we not have any cash so we can't look at her and apologize?"

It makes me very aware of what it feels like to beg on street corners.

Anyway, suddenly a dark skinned woman in very big dark glasses and a black dress comes straight up to me.

She hands me a dollar bill.

I stop playing and look at her.

She takes off her glasses and looks me right in the eyes.

She says "read the fine print Baby."

And she holds the dollar bill up in front of my face.

"In God We Trust."

I smile at her.

She gets up really close to me and hugs me a big huge squeeze right over my guitar and me.

Then she is still hanging on to me and I'm frankly slightly afraid, and she says, "You and I are the ancients."

I'm thinking, like, speak for yourself Lady.

She says, "Look at me, I'm fifty-eight years old."

I say, "Oh that's so weird because I'm fifty-eight years old too."

And she snaps, "I know that!"

I think, oh damn I'm not looking so good today I guess.

She says, "We need to sing and speak and be strong now! We are the ones who can show the way! We're the elders, we're the ancients. Keep on singing. You have a beautiful voice, a beautiful gift. Let these young people hear you. Let them hear a real voice of wisdom!"

And then she walked away.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I play out on the street, paycheck aside.

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