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Randy Stein

The Roaming Musician - What's Different Now

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Back in the 1970s and 1980s I made a great living playing the Concertina in various restaurants and cafes. Some required me to roam their establishment offering a more intimate interaction with the patrons. I stopped the roaming musician stuff by the late 80s and with a couple of exceptions haven't done since.

Except last night. A few weeks ago I got a call from a restaurant on the DC waterfront to play and roam a couple of hours for Valentine's Day Dinner. I was hesitant but the pay was too hard to refuse and included drinks and dinner. Always a plus.

What was so different from 30 years ago was the cell phone. Couples sitting across from each other starring blissfully into their tweets and texts. Taking relentless photos of self and food. It was ubiquitous throughout the evening and jarring to me. My interactions with the people was significantly sparse.

With exception of one room. I played there the longest.

 

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Seems as if it wasn't so long ago that live music in a restaurant made people happy without the need of a small screen, etc. I had a great restaurant gig about 15 years ago -- only 15 years ago! --that lasted a year, before cellphones, etc. were a part of the picture. Yes, playing to people and for people is a hoot -- I love it. Don't want to play to a little screen or a pocket-size device.

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I forget where I saw a chalkboard sign outside a restaurant which said " take a picture of your food for instagram and receive a free concussion".

I observed a table of six at the local pub; all with their eyes on their phones and absolutely no discussion for the duration of their meal. Sad.

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