Saturday 14th February 2015- Bucket and Samba Drumming

This morning I was bucket drumming again. Was I well-prepared? Well-rested? Chilled? Nope. That was kind of the point. Sometimes the only way to get over a fear is to scare yourself into not worrying about it anymore. In my case, performance nerves at gigs. If I can play on buckets badly in public, hopefully our next gig will not feel so worrying.

People seemed to quite like bucket drumming, just for the novelty of it. I wasn’t particularly good at it, just making stuff up as I went along, but I showed plenty of enthusiasm. I was drumming after all, and seeing people smile and give me change made me pretty happy.

One of my college friends heard me from the road and had come to see what the racket was. We chatted for a bit.

At one point, two guys in a white van, joiners I think, waiting for the lights to change had spotted me and rolled their window down. They found my buckets hilarious. They were laughing hard, slumped in their seats, not even looking at the road ahead. Something I have discovered recently is that I like to make people laugh. I did my best to entertain them, hamming it up a bit and grinning at them. I flipped a stick and caught it, which just killed them. I waved as they drove off. That was fun.

I had been playing for a short while when a man in a cowboy hat approached me. He introduced himself as Tad and said that if anyone bothered me, I should come see him and some of the other guys who sort of run this thing. I think I knew who he meant. There’s a bunch of amazing street performers who hang out in front of the Fringe Box Office. I asked if he was the tight-rope violinist, and was this his normal spot? Did he need me to move? “No”, he smiled “I escape from straight-jackets and stuff”. He recommended a spot higher up near the cathedral for better acoustics. Flute didn’t attract as much attention as this, although I have met a few of the street performers higher up the Mile.

Kind people gave me some money, one woman giving me a rose from a bunch she was carrying. I had kind of forgotten about Valentine’s Day. Perhaps that was why the Mile was so busy!

Since I was the loudest thing on the mile, even giving the bagpipers a run for their money, I moved pitches regularly to give people a break.

On the mound, I also got a good response. Amused interest and encouragement mostly. Valentine’s Day seems to put most people in a good mood.

I was still tapping away when a man a few years older than me stopped to chat and said there was going to be a protest on the Mound soon. He was from a Samba drumming protest group called Rhythms of Resistance. Would I like to join? Yes.

I packed up to watch the samba drums and a rather fantastic paper mache dragon painted with Anti-climate change slogans.

I was waiting for them to start when one of the drummers asked if I wanted to join in. I haven’t played in a Samba group before, but it sounded like fun. I grabbed my mini saucepan and a stick.

Samba is great. The leader (called Benny I think) blew a whistle and did hand signs. I just went with it, playing beside some people with things like cowbells. My few sessions at Edinburgh Drum Society before my schedule got too full, helped with understanding the counting hand signals and pauses. We sort of move from side to side as we played, and at the end, marched around in a circle. It was a lot of fun! Hopefully I’ll see them at a meeting or two if I get some free Thursday nights.

After another brief performance on the Mile, I watched an amazing fire juggler from in front of the Fringe shop. He threw and caught flaming torches while balancing on top of a plank of wood, and cheerfully  warning us to “Watch where you step, some idiot spilled paraffin here!”.

His show was cut short by a policeman who was clearing the street. I wondered what for, then heard a familiar sound. Rhythms for Resistance were at the front of a procession of people blocking the road, with a queue of open-topped Tourist Buses forced to snail it behind them.

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