Up above, that’s Dave Gardner — I’m not sure I’ve got his last name right — sitting on his amplifier and playing guitar as commuters emerged from the North Berkley BART station last night. I asked him how things were going. “Cold,” he said. Were people responding to his playing, “Some,” he said. Mostly, he let his playing speak for him, and I got out of the way so I wouldn’t deter any passers-by from dropping a buck in his guitar case. I liked the music. I think the two numbers he plays here are takes on “All of Me” and “Sweet Georgia Brown.”
Here’s Dennis Blackwell, a guy who was playing at the 16th and Mission BART station on Friday. It does not look like a nice spot. The crowd’s hustling by, you have a little pigeon dung to deal with, and station agents who take in the whole thing with a cold eye.
Blackwell says he’s been playing for spare change for about a year. “I’ve been messing around with a guitar for 20 years. I’m 60 now.” He said he “came into manhood” on the streets of Berkeley, that his target audience is “aging hippies like me,” that he worked most of his adult life as a cook, and is on a fixed income now.
He played a little U2 medley, talked to me for a couple minutes, then launched into “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” by Bob Dylan. I didn’t bring him any luck–I didn’t see a single person stop and give him anything while I was hanging around with my camera and recorder. Hope he did better afterward.