The bass player

bass

THIS OLD BOY is part of a street band. They stand next to sidewalk tables, and start playing and singing loudly whether you want them to or not. They work for tips.

The group varies in size, but it’s usually three or four. There were five on Sunday. I gave them 20 pesos.

This character is my favorite because he always looks as if he just woke up from a bender that scored 8.0 on the Richter Scale. Were the photo in color, you’d see bloodshot eyes.

No matter. He strums that bass with enthusiasm, and his instrument appears to date from the Revolution.

It’s very old, but it works. Just like him.

19 thoughts on “The bass player”

  1. If you wanna eat you gotta work is a Mexican truism regardless of age. This is especially true for many aging street musicians. When I see them ply their trade I see it as a form of Mexican Social Security. They know their audience and are seeking a charitable response while maintaining a sense of pride. There but for the grace of God go I.

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  2. “It’s very old, but it works. Just like him.” And, like you, that is reason enough to stuff a few pesos in the hands of strolling minstrels — no matter how bad they are.

    By the way, great shot. I like your photographs as much as I do your writing ability.

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  3. I knew a few Mexicans like that when we lived in Puerto Vallarta. They would stay up drinking till all hours, and then we would see them at 6 a.m. buying a juice or breakfast item. Made me wonder how they did it. Are they super human? They would do it 2, 3, 4 nights in a row sometimes. It’s beyond me how they can do that to their body night after night.

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  4. Singing and playing, whether you want them to or not. Indeed.

    Sometimes I’d happily pay the tip for them not playing.

    But I never get that option.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    CDMX, México
    Where we think these guys are missing the easy money for not doing something.

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      1. I pretty much have the same reaction. But I’d be happier helping with the tacos if they’d stick to threats rather than carrying out the “musical” massacre.

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  5. Love your narrative … 8.0, huh? Love the photo. And you know why they do it, right? They’d better not show those bloodshot eyes to their señora unless they come home with some pesos and tell her they’ve been working all night (which they have, in a way). Pobrecitos.

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  6. “I kind of doubt this bass player has a señora, but who knows?”

    Para cada roto hay un descosido.

    Your child bride can explain.

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  7. I’m with Felipe. Give them the 20 pesos & encourage them to play. Some of them are quite good and others not so. The one that I’d always pay to go away would be the young man who doesn’t know how to play his guitar and screeches out his version of a song. Perhaps, by now, his voice has changed with the screech being less annoying. Would the naysayers among you deny the worth of putting a coin in the blind accordion man’s cup?

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