You don’t see that many One Man Bands these days.
I’d never even noticed that the genre had practically fallen off the planet until last night, during my gallery walk, when I saw a guy on the 1500 block of Echo Park Boulevard holding a banjo with a bass drum strapped across his back and a tambourine hanging off his shoulder, and I thought “Gee, you don’t see that many One Man Bands these days.”
A thump of his left heel boomed the drum and thump of his right heel slapped the tambourine. Meanwhile, his ten fingers flashed across the strings of that banjo so fast your eyes couldn’t perceive and your mind wouldn’t believe. I assume he had just ten fingers… from the way he played though, he might’ve been one of those twelve fingered folk you see now and then on Discovery Channel. But whatever. Hunched in a half crouch, heels thumping and fingers flying, he playing that banjo like a sitar, spewing out music that was half bluegrass, half Bombay — Krishna in Kentucky. Pure bloody magic on the sidewalk, and there was nobody who could stop themselves from stopping. To hear and to feel.
Then his furious playing finally broke a string, and I had a moment to tear myself free. I realized it was then or never — there were galleries I hadn’t seen, and it was getting late. If I stayed to watch this one-man-band, I’d miss everything else. But as he knelt on the sidewalk changing his string, I dropped the buck fifty of quarters I had in my pocket into his cup.
“Thanks, man,” he said.
“Thank you,” I replied. And I honestly meant it. That was my laundry money, but what he’d given me was worth dirty pants.