Thursday, January 05, 2006

Downtown Improvisationalists

Personally, I don't have much use for car alarms. The sound of them used to inspire a sense of urgency. But now their honking blasts have become so commonplace, that when one goes off, it's less of a call for alarm, and more just unwanted noise pollution.

Car alarms have become so mundane, yet annoying, that they're about as welcome as the sound of someone's cell phone ringing in a movie theater. Often, the reactions on the owner's part are about the same: a frenzied search for the "off" button.

Much more welcomed are the sounds of street musicians, and, lately, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount and talent of downtown street musicians.

A couple of weeks ago, we attended the unfortunate Rams-49ers game at the Dome. Set up and playing furiously was a New Orleans-styled trio, jamming to Christmas music. They sounded pretty good, and were headed towards pulling down a thousand dollars in tips from the tide of football fans walking past them on the way to the game.

Then there's the fellow who plays his saxophone mid-days near the corner of 7th and Olive. From Met Square to the Laclede Gas Building, you can hear him playing a wide variety of jazz standards.

Yesterday his stylings were being crowded out by the dissonant blastings of a car alarm coming from the middle floors of one nearby parking garages. When I stepped out of our office building, he was playing, but not any recognizable tune.

I listened harder, and then realized he was improvising. He was playing accompaniment to the car alarm. He was harmonizing with it. Together, it didn't sound half bad. Now that's what I call a real "street musician".

1 comment:

Claire Nowak-Boyd said...

I've noticed the increase in performers Downtown, too! I always try to tip them if I have any money to spare--I want to encourage them to keep doing what they are doing.

Man, I wish I had seen that particular performance from the 7th and Olive guy. He's pretty good.