There is an old Joni Mitchell song called “Real Good For Free.” The middle verse goes like this. “Now me I play for fortune, And those velvet curtain calls, I’ve got a black limousine, And two gentlemen, Escorting me to the halls, And I play if you have the money, Or if you’re a friend to me, But the one man band, By the quick lunch stand, He was playing real good, for free.”
We were walking through The French Quarter on our way to a good dinner. Probably an expensive one. We crossed Royal Street and saw this band playing for tips. They were beautiful musicians. They were playing for tips and with hope that somebody would buy one of their homemade CDS. In between songs they held out their merchandise — or merch as the bigger bands — say. We looked at each other and felt guilty. In some other post I’ll tell you more about it. But, Joni’s song about nails it. I don’t know her. But, I get her and that makes me feel like I do.
So. We did the only thing we really could do. We put a bunch of money in her tip basket. Thanked her and the band. And left. We don’t even know their names.
The picture. I did what I always do. Framed the scene, let whatever was going to happen, happen. And, I pushed the button.
I have a New Year Eve tradition. I like to start the year off right by working. Or, at least making a picture that I like. Since nobody around my house drinks, we generally find a place for me to work, have dinner and go home well before midnight. Sometimes we do that with friends and then I make what I call small pictures. Really small pictures. Living in New Orleans makes this tradition very easy. Go to The French Quarter. Walk around. Make a picture or two. Have dinner. Or. Have dinner. Walk around. Make a picture or two. Head for home. That’s what we did tonight. One of those two sequences.
The food was good. It usually is good in the places we like. But, the pictures. Whew. I could see very, very well. Pictures just sort of popped out in front of my eyes. This started almost from the time I found a parking space, which was really easy despite what the talking heads on television news said 100,000 people descending on Jackson Square for the dropping of the fleur de lis. No shining balls for this city. Anyway. I did my usual thing. I drove through Treme. Yes, it really is a place, not just a show on cable. Then I crossed Rampart, which is the boundary of The Quarter. I drove a couple of blocks and found a spot. Easy. I saw pictures while I was looking for that spot. That doesn’t happen very often. Photographer’s luck. Or, good karma.
So. We walked before dinner. I probably made five or six pictures that you’ll see here, on Storyteller. In fact, for Wednesday’s post I’ll show what Santa Claus really does with his time off.
But, for tonight it’s about music. There is a little two person band who has been playing around The Quarter for years. They make their living by playing on street corners, especially on Royal Street. That’s where I found them. Their music is beautiful. The violinist’s notes are haunting.
The pictures. Yes. Pictures. Two. I rarely post more than one. And, there is one image that I like a lot. But, it doesn’t really set the scene. So, there are two. Enjoy them. I’ve been photographing around the Quarter for a long time. I know these two musicians on sight. They know me a little. When the violinist saw me, she smiled and nodded. She knows I always leave a few bucks in their tip basket. So many people don’t. Worse. In this age of smart phones, people snap a few frames and wander off. No tips. To me, that’s wrong. This is how these musicians earn their living.
Technical stuff. Not so much. I really do like the Sony NEX 7 that I seem to have migrated to from my heavier Nikons. These pictures were made at ISO 1600. No noise to speak of. That makes pictures like this exposed in pretty low light very easy.