0417 My First Paid Gig while Parkbenching (Fra 042—revisit)

Puteaux Travel Blog

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Puteaux at first looks like another of those “Little Strip along the Seine” towns… but if you take a closer look, there’s a lot crammed into this little town.  Apart from its slice of La Defense, there’s a classy modern district then a big fountain… down the hill a cool little “music park” with bushes shaped as musical notes, another fountain and a windmill… the a steep downhill street with a great view of the Eiffel Tower… and then a Mairie to Outdo all Mairies….

I mean, this is almost too much… I’ve gotten used pompous, fancy mairies in tiny little town towns… but the Mairie of Puteaux is more glorious than many national capitols!  And this is just one little suburb with a couple thousand people!

 

As I try to set up my camera to take my video clip in front of the Mairie, a serious looking waiter comes and says,

 

“Do you want to play music at our café?”

 

I look at him a bit confused--  not sure if he’s talking seriously or not… Finally I tell him I’ll be over in just a minute…

 

So I take my video clip and head on over to the main open air café of the plaza in front of the Mairie.

  I still think it rather odd that such a classy place would just ask some random guy with a guitar if he wants to play music for their customers.  But they were serious… apparently they usually have a musician come on Sundays, but he didn’t show up today…

 

Of course I’m not going to turn down this opportunity… I’m still not sure if they are going to pay me or if I am expected to collect tips from the customers directly… what kind of music they want me to play…  The tables where pretty spread out--  and there isn’t any sort of platform, sound system or anything…

 

What the hell… I’ll just figure it out as I go along… So I go to the middle of the plaza and start playing….

 

And so for the next 5 hours or so, my Global Parkbenching Project is put on the backburner, and I become a professional musician, travelling the world, paying for my expenses by playing my own original song… it’s another fantasy life that I’ve dreamed about off and on for decades…

 

It isn’t particularly easy… I’m pretty exhausted after 8 days hiking and camping… I have to compete with a nearby fountain… and even though folks applaud and seem to like my songs, I can’t really say that I’m “pulling in” a lot more customers with my music…

 

But I know that if they ask me to come back and if they pay me enough for hotel room, I won’t be able to say no… it’s always been my dream to earn money playing music, and I can’t pass up this opportunity, imperfect as it may be…

 

A couple of times, when I’m basically singing to empty tables, I feel like quitting and calling it a day… I just take a couple breaks to grab a drink or an order of chocolate crepes and keep singing until closing time…

 

And then I go to collect… and I am handed 20 Euros… it’s a bittersweet moment… Sweet that I’ve been paid to play music in Europe, bitter because that just ain’t going to be enough to pay for the most basic expenses…

 

“Are you going to come back tomorrow?” One of the fellows asks… but the other waiter, who had first called me over, shakes his head.

  I don’t know if it’s because they only want live music on Sundays or if my music wasn’t suitable… but with that shake of a head my dream of being a travelling paid musician was put on hold once again…

 

…Otherwise, I might be spending the rest of my summer strumming in the plaza right here in Puteaux, France…

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Puteaux
photo by: nathanphil