OUR APPLICATION LETTER TO THE INTERNATIONAL
We were absolutely thrilled to have received your brochure. Busking has been a part of our lifestyle for so long. It's such a wonderful service for the public to enjoy and certainly, as performers, it's always been a favorite medium for us to give our hearts to the passing crowd and have lots of fun. We attract people with our enthusiastic energy, harmonies and relationship, sharing the magic of love through our musical expression. Audiences get to participate in the song selection because of our large yellow cardboard “$1 Request” list, which enables us to be their live jukebox. Everyone likes to call out a favorite tune of their choice. Whether people sing along or choose to watch the show, everyone's guaranteed a fun time!
Every sentence of your brochure whet our appetites. It's everything we always fantasize about…being able to travel, sing in the streets with our sound system, great tips, great scenery, incredible opportunities to meet and talk to an international community…We remember the days we used to worry about the cops busting us in the 70's for busking. Imagine our delight these days, being told we can purchase street passes, allowing us to play with full permission and approval of the local law enforcement. Ah…supreme delight!
Now we have learned that this noble art that we have been practicing for years is not only alive and thriving, but is being brought to international deserving recognition. This whole year, there's been nothing on our minds but to apply for and hope to be part of your Buskers Festival.
And so, since you've obviously created this festival with us in mind, we sincerely hope we can be given the priviledge of taking part in it. Kindly contact us any time, day or night. We're holding our breath!
Linda and Richie Pollock
LOVE AND MAGIC
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
HOW WE FIRST STARTED BUSKING
The first time I sang in the streets was in Amsterdam, Holland, 1973. Linda was in the crowd singing along, in unison, to my original songs . We were now married 6 months, and she knew every word from hearing me repeating them over and over endlessly for days and days, trying to memorize them.
From there, we ferried over from Germany to Denmark, found a hotel at the southern tip of the country and checked in. Passing by the bar on the way up to our room, the bartender noticed our guitar and motioned to us to come play. I shyly smiled and shook my head saying no, but he kept on insisting. He didn't speak English. I didn't speak Danish. “What do they think I'm going to sing,” I said uncomfortably to Linda. “ the Danish national anthem or something? I dunno…” We smiled at him and then went upstairs to our room.
“Why don't you sing for them?” Linda said. So I shyly took my guitar and we headed down to the bar. There were only about 8 to 10 people there that afternoon. The bartender looked so happy. I went sat on a stool near the bar and started to sing. To my total surprise, Linda came up and started to sing with me. We had been letter writing for years, lived together for 6 months, married for 6 months, and I never knew she sang! Not only was I spending the rest of my life with one whom I called my dream princess, but our joy together multiplied, singing together. She later told me that she sang to try to comfort me, knowing how awkward I felt.
The bartender kept plying us with Tubourg and Carslberg beers. We were not drinkers, but tasted both and found them to be exceptionally good. As we sang, we noticed a hat being passed around. Then the bartender brought it up to us with a big smile. Very soon we realized that we were given a hatful of tips.
What a great idea! When we arrived in Copenhagen to celebrate our love in city that first brought us together, we took that idea to the famous Stroget walking street in the middle the city. We sat at a bench, facing each other, still shy, only looking into each other's eyes as we sang our hearts out. She knew every single one of my originals.
Crowds gathered around, enjoying us and throwing money into our guitar case.
We kept coming back every day and I soon found myself waking up with the excited itch to get out there and do what I loved most. The best part of it was noticing someone hanging around us for a long time, looking like they were really digging the music and getting a chance afterwards to put down the guitar and talk with them…maybe even see them again. I love playing and singing, but the real jewel for me is to meet someone and share something of value.
Fortunately, this happened a lot. When you're out there with the masses, there is so much possibility instead of sitting at home in front of the telly. I'll end by saying that an example of that was when this handsome guy with his model girlfriend tipped us and asked us if we were like to visit and stay with them in Rungstead, north of Copenhagen, that weekend.
We accepted, and to make a long story short, as it is said, they were tremendously hospitable. Not only did we stay at their beautiful apartment, but they treated us to a day in the woods, the famous amusement park, Baaken, and an aquarium, where they bought us a seahorse as a souvenir. To top it off, they then hired us to perform at their nightclub, The Limelight. See why busking can be so rewarding?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was summertime at last and Richie's friend, Fred, invited him to explore Europe, all expenses paid. How could he refuse? With his knapsack on his back, they boarded a Yugoslavian freighter from the docks of New York City to Tangiers, Morroco. What they didn't expect was a storm at sea, so strong that two other ships sank. Eventually they arrived in France, where they bought mopeds, and drove down to Italy, finally settling in the charming island of Ventotene. They found a small hut covered in grapevines, with a well of fresh water and chicken cages all around.
One night, at midnight, under a full moon, there was a knock at the door. One of the islanders invited them to take a rowboat ride across the bay to the nearby prison island of Santo Stefano, where Mussolini used to exile his political prisoners. Noone had ever escaped there, as drowning was their only option.
Richie's experience was so profound, that during the entire ride back, he kept muttering to himself, “I've gotta write a poem. I've gotta write a poem.”, even though he'd never written a poem before. Upon returning back to his hut, he was compelled to capture his fresh impressions on paper. Here is Richie's very first poem, entitled “SANTO STEFANO”.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"SANTO STEFANO" by Richie Pollock © 2001
Jagged cliffs, rock foundation
Imbedded in its aquatic environment
Out of the pit of night
The moon sheds its eerie brillance
Upon the water
Which ripples at the touch of oar
As we make our way across the bay
Impregnable, inscrutable, inescapable.
As we draw near
A hint of forever pervades the night air
It echoes in the very lapping of the waves
Against the shore
Bleakness and desolation
Shout the precipitious cliffs
Those who came were here to stay
The night takes you
It weaves its' spell
Inviting you to take on a role
Walk as the outcast
One who is doomed to stay
The wind rips at your soul
Pushing you onward
Towards your destiny
Walk higher and higher
Up the winding path
Doom, dismay and depression
Those three incorporate spirits
Hang in the very air
Encircling your head
As you wend your way
Closer and closer
To a final resting place
Where peace and serenity
Were the farthest things from your mind
The walls of the prison
Seem to shout out
You don't have to strain to hear them
They call in melancholy voices
Voices of the dead
Ghosts of a not-to-distant past
They beckon you onward
You must obey
Curiosity lashes at your faltering feet
To take those few more steps
Leading into hell
Finally enter those very walls
The courtyard above you
Are the cells
But dwell for awhile in the courtyard
So ominous in the dull sheen
Of a full moon
Stand quite still
Far into the reaches of night
You hear the dead echo of tramping feet
Feel their presence
There is no doubt
You have just taken a step outside of yourself
As you plunge into the realms of the past
Incarcerated for life
These men whose lives were empty
Whose futures were nonexistent
Whose hopes, in vain
These men march before you
You can almost see their grey faces
Their vacant eyes
That have seen and will always see
These vast walls
And the utter desolation of their lives
You find yourself
Marching alongside them
That you can leave
Any time you desire
But still holding back for fear
Screw your courage to the height
Ascend the staircase
Leading to the prison block
Behind each door was a life
Each door enclosed one man
Into his own eternity
Each door whispered “forever”
Each door now hung on hinges
Thick heavy iron door
Which shut out the sun
Turning each man inside
Towards introspection and repentance
For the deed which brought him
And caged him here
Behind each door was another
There was no chance of escape
In each room was a bed
Where upon a man could lay
Pound his head
Against the same grey drab walls
In vain when the realization finally hit
There was no leaving
There was no hope
There was no easy end
This was life and
This was death
Seven years now
Since its' activity has ceased
There is noone left anymore
All signs of life are gone
Rusted hinges scatter the area
Yet while memories linger
Imagination will flare
The pulse is weak
But forever present under the glow of a full moon
The courtyard again surges with…..life?
(Or was it a living out of death?)
You feel the lost spirits all around
Calling out to you to remember
But not too clearly
Calling out to you to forget
But not too soon
Then you find yourself running
Tripping blindly down the path
Leading away, far away
Or maybe just walking slowly
Contemplating the monument to horror
You have just witnessed
Even though you are leaving the walls behind
You can find no joy, no
Not until you have left the mighty hulk
Rising high out of the water
Not until the night air can cleanse your mind
Of the spectacle just seen
Just lived through yourself
Though you had the priviledge
To walk through those gates
Except for thoughts
Ripping at your flesh and mind
Yes you can leave
But they must stay
The ghosts of the past
In their incorporate state
Floating in waiting
For the next poor soul
To whom they can attach their weary load
Having him share some of their burden
If only for a little while
After a lifetime
You finally make it back
To your boat
You feel yourself
Breaking free of the bonds
The night wind
Whips across your face
Bringing back vitality and
You are reborn
As Santo Stefano becomes again
Just a hulk
Rising from the sea
Black mixed with moonlight
You return to reality
Come back from the world of the unliving
Regain your everyday identity
You start to forget
You want to forget
But you know
You can never forget
Not for as long as that island will stand
Bathed in moonlight
Impregnable, inscrutable, inescapable
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
THE KEY WEST STORY
I pointed by car towards old Key West
With my wife, the guitar, and I must confess
We were told there were no rooms anywhere
It was Labor Day weekend, but we didn't care
With no reservations, our adventures began
To have a vacation was our only plan
We wanted to play in Mallory Square
Sing down the sunset; maybe meet some people there
Singing in the streets was our history
Our original songs of love and harmony
So many people in our travels we'd meet
Who'd feel our love and magic then invite us home to eat
So we figured Key West would be the same way
We'd get adopted and have someplace to stay
The Old Seven Mile Bridge made my knuckles turn white
So just arriving alive filled us with delight
We searched hours for a hotel room without luck
Till we finally found one, someone never showed up
But by the time we made it to Mallory Square
The sun had long set, no one was there
Friday night found us going bar to bar
Listening to the music as we danced beneath the stars
Saturday morning we played tourist and then
An old knee pain sent us back towards home again
I couldn't believe it was ending so soon
With nothing to show but a Key West balloon
No stories to tell, no dreams to come true
Only four hours more highway with both of us feeling blue
Whenever I head home I look straight ahead
Never think of going anywhere else instead
So with complete surprise cause it wasn't my style
When Linda said, “turn here” I made a right to Holiday Isle
As soon as we pulled in I knew at a glance
This was our place, our second chance
Suddenly my knee didn't hurt anymore
Here we would sing; here we would score
Huge yachts were docked, there was money in the air
Jet skis were rentable, with tourists everywhere
I smiled at Linda, Linda smiled at me
If we only had twenty dollars more, the fun would be guaranteed
That's when I found a quarter in the street
I usually find dimes, so I knew this was a treat
But I'll never know what made me say the next thing
I said, “This quarter's gonna give us…everything”
We took our guitar to the docks right away
And before we knew it someone said, “Hey you—play!”
We stepped on the boat called The Innesfree
And the rest, as they say, was history
We played them our songs, they drank down their beers
They said, “You kids are great; what are you doing here?”
We told them our stories, how we travel around
They said, “Everybody should hear how good you guys sound”
So on the upper deck we went into full swing
They turned on the loudspeakers, the whole Marina heard us sing
People started dancing, joining the fun
The sun went down, but we went on and on
We never even thought about the end of the day
When the owner of the boat asked us if we'd like to stay
We spent that night hearing the water outside
And early the next morning we all went for a boat ride
A few hours later it was time to go
We were passing by The Tiki Bar when somebody yelled “Whoa!
Why don't you guys stop and play us a song?”
We thought we were on our way home, were we ever wrong
One song became two then three became four
After each song ended someone else yelled “One More!”
Their calls for more music was so beautiful a sound
We never even noticed a jar passing around
And just when we thought it couldn't get better than this
Somebody handed us a jar full of tips
He said, “I called the manager I know at The Pub
He wants you upstairs to play at our nightclub”
We played on the stage then the hour grew late
What a Labor Day Weekend, what a story to relate
As we headed for the parking lot I remembered the jar
And I counted all the money up as we walked towards the car
Twenty dollars we said would be all the extra we'd need
We never knew we'd be sleeping for free
Nineteen dollars seventy five cents the tip jar did bring
And with the quarter I found, well….it gave us everything
As soon as we pulled in I knew at a glance
This was our place, our second chance
Suddenly my knee didn't hurt anymore
Here we would sing, here we would score
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Travelling around the globe as street musicians, Richie and I have encountered unforgetable characters and adventures. We remember this one Canadian summer evening, getting ready to hit the streets. Richie's intuition pulled us to Old Montreal. As soon as we began singing, this guy took great interest in us and, after enjoying several tunes, asked us to perform at the five day Tadoussac Song Festival he was producing. We'd get paid well, get free accomodations, explore a new part of Quebec, plus be televised. The fact that we needed to rent a car and drive five hours each way did not deter us. Our excitement was shaken, as weeks went by without any returned messages from our mysterious producer. Finally, just a couple of days before departure, he confirmed his offer and off we went.
When we arrived at Restaurant Tadoussac ready for a much needed good night's sleep, we were told our accomodations were not ready until the next day, but that we could crash upstairs. We climbed the narrow, steep stairs with all our heavy gear to find a small bunk bed. It shook non-stop all night from the deafening dance music below, making sleep impossible and preparation for our show very uncomfortable.
The next day, Richie and I were given our promised accomodations at Lake Jimmy. Our “chalet” by the lake became packed with performers – no private room, a toilet very tricky to balance on and water problems. To top it off, later that day, we found some newcomers lying on all our clothes, toiletries, etc. which we spread across our bed. We were NOT happy campers.
The next five days found us performing at the local restaurant, marina, bar and hotel. We were the only English speaking act in the festival. It was frustrating, because noone seemed to connect to our English, even though we sang the most popular songs of the 60's and 70's.
Finally, we decided that, since they didn't understand the words, we might as well enjoy singing our own songs. That night, an English couple were trememdously touched by our originals and wanted to ‘hang' with us. They asked us where we were staying. When we told them, they said they owned a large honeymoon chalet they would love to offer to us. It was empty, but had all the basic amenities we would need. To us it was a castle, all to ourselves. Our spirits were lifted, reminding us once again of the magic that always happens whenever we choose to sing our originals.
On the last day, all the musicians performed for each other at the finale show. After our turn, Richie and I skipped out for a bit of a walk, still feeling a little left out because we didn't speak French. Later, we found out that the MC made a moving tribute to us, honoring our talent, and acknowledging the language challenge everyone knew we faced. With tears in his eyes, on camera, he whole-heartedly exclaimed how we truly live the LOVE AND MAGIC we call ourselves and sing about.
Before we left, we were the only performers offered a free boat ride to see the whales in the Sagenay River. What a conclusion to the festival! When music touches the heart, many surprises occur.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Richie and I always preferred booking our own shows. From time to time, however, we used agents to get us more lucrative work. One agent heard some of our recordings and offered us a two week gig, nine hours north of Montreal, in Matagami, way up near James Bay. We heard that the towns on the way up there were many miles apart, with no gas stations or much of anything in between. The money was our magnet, so we refused the local gigs we were offered and headed northward.
We were invited to stay and entertain at Hotel Matagami. First, we had to be absolutely sure they wanted our type of act and would sign a contract before our departure. Our agent assured us a contract would be ready for us up there and that our show was exactly what they wanted.
To further confirm this, we phoned our hotel contact and asked him if he was aware that our show was all English. He said that would be perfect. We explained our style, song list, instrumentation, etc. Once again, he said it was perfect. Still we felt more secure bringing our own contract for him to sign before our performance.
The trip seemed to take forever. Finally, we arrived and were happy our hotel contact was there. The agent never did send him the contract he promised would be there. I told the hotel contact to sign ours before we would perform, so he did. He also signed a $400
cash advance (which he gave us immediately) and agreed the remainder was due, whether they liked us or not. Boy, was that a smart move.
Going to the stage area to set up for the show, we first encountered our new venue and clientele. There were few people scattered around, noticeably all male, french motorcycle gang members, drinking at the bar or seated beneath the strobe lights of the dance floor. Richie and I were undoubtedly totally wrong for this room. Armed with our folk and soft rock hits, we watched as fewer and fewer patrons remained. Two more weeks of this would not be fun to say the least.
The next morning, we were awoken early by our hotel contact, asking us to please go the local music store and rent a drumset and synthesizer. We replied that we did not play those instruments, and were then told that if we did not, we would have to leave. Apparently, the agent told him we had a band sound.
In less than forty eight hours, we were on our way home. At least we had our cash advance. Still, nine more hours of deserted roads left the two of us feeling blue. Back home, friends said we should sue whoever signed our contract. After all, that's what a contract is for, so we decided to go for it.
The trial took place the next Spring, back up in Matagami. It was very rare, but we got a judge who spoke English. We guaranteed him that we would never travel so far to knowingly misrepresent ourselves. It was the agent who took our studio recordings to be our live sound, even though we told him that live we were one guitar, two voices and an occasional casio keyboard. We pleaded our case as best we could.
What a long day! Nine hours through the barren north, forty-five minutes in court, and then nine more hours home – all in one dayl. We were told we would get our verdict in several weeks. Within days, we got it. WE WON! “Great,” said all our musician friends, “but good luck collecting!”
Much to our surprise, the money came within a week, including the full two week payment plus interest and full expenses. We learnt to always have a signed contract before performing, clarifying our agreement clearly. We now pass this lesson on to all our fellow working musicians.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
PLAYING THE METRO
The biggest crowd we ever got was in Hyde Park, London, England. We just innocently started singing and people kept coming and coming and coming. The energy was tremendous.
When we returned to America, we couldn't wait to hit the streets. For four years, we had our spot in Greenwich Village, New York, where people could regularly count on hearing us. Wherever we went, we busked…Mallory Square in Key West, Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, Larimer Square in Denver, etc.
When it came time to sing in Montreal, there were two main outdoor spots; Old Montreal and Prince Arthur Street. We always found “our spot” and did extremely well. When winter came, we headed down below to their subway, The Metro.
In The Metro, we could bring our sound system, which echoed down the halls in every direction. In front of us, the train pulled in. On the left were 2 staircases and 2 escalators filled with streams of people going up and down. On the right were stairs leading down, and the traffic was amazing. We stood with our backs against the wall, facing everyone. In front of us, across the tracks, were more people and a balcony overhead, where crowds would watch us. It was a wonderful location.
Alot of our repertoire was from the 60's and 70's, but people mostly reacted to our original songs and the way we interacted together. The tips at Christmas time were so overwhelming, we almost couldn't take it. The money kept pouring out of everyone's pockets non-stop.
We had our regulars that always stayed to hear us, like this pretty young lady who would pass by regularly with her little blond twin girls, dressed in identical little fur coats or some other fashionable outfit. She always gave each of them fifty cents or a dollar for us. There was also this guy who stood to the left, never looked at us, but came over and threw in a ten dollar bill. Then he stood over on the right, still refused to look at us, but after two minutes came back, and threw in another ten dollar bill. He stood around once again, still no smile, threw in another twenty dollar bill, and disappeared. I guess he enjoyed the show even though we could never tell from his face.
Also in The Metro, some guy came up to us and said, “Can you use this?” He handed us a men's short-sleeved red shirt. To this day, I still use it in performance. The picture above has a nice story as well. One day, this guy came up to us in The Metro, handing us a large photo. He said, “Here's a picture I took of you singing here the other day. It's a present.” That was such a nice surprise. People hired us from seeing us in The Metro and we were even invited to perform on one of the most popular television shows.
Our favorite story was about a blond lady who looked like the actress Melina Mercouri. After listening to us sing, she came over to the guitar case and put in a twenty dollar bill! Linda's first impulse was to grab it (there's always someone who could dip in and help him or herself), but because there was such a huge crowd, she was too embarrassed. Then the lady asked us to sing “Leaving on a Jet Plane”. As we were singing, she bent back down and took back the twenty dollar bill. We kept on singing, but Linda was in regret, thinking, “Oh man, why didn't I pick the money up before? I knew I should have.” On we sang. Then she reached into her wallet, pulled out a one hundred dollar bill and dropped it into the case. Immediately, Linda bent down, picked it up and put it in her pocket. She didn't care who was there! After all these years, we still think about going back to The Metro.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
GREENWICH VILLAGE by Linda Pollock
Wow! We moved into Greenwich Village! When I was a teenager, it was so exciting to visit there from Canada. Images of beatniks, jazz music and incense would fill my head. I loved buying outrageous long earrings and jewelry, finding unique hip clothes and buying lots of records. Laura Nyro was my favorite.
I was thrilled, living on one of the nicest tree-lined street in the West Village, on the same block as the famous Reno Sweeneys Restaurant and the club Frank and Danny's, where Richie and I would later perform. The rock star Rick Deringer lived down the block to the right and to the left was the Satchitananda Yoga Center and Food Co-op. I loved it. Ray's Pizza, the best in the universe, was around the corner, Breyer's icecream nearby …who could ask for more? The best part of it all was the fact that all we had to do was walk down the streets to our busking spot. We no longer had to ride the subway all the way from Brooklyn.
McDougal and 8th St., across from the very popular Shakespeare's Restaurant, was OUR SPOT for four years. We also frequented Bleecker Street from time to time. At first, we took our tiny wooden chairs, faced each other only and sang Richie's original songs. People were intrigued and the response kept us coming back night after night. We stood against a corner store wall with the street light shining on us. Gradually, still a little shy, we stood up, pouring out our hearts at the top of our lungs (no amplifiers were permitted) and eventually we turned to face our audience. So much magic happened there.
Bernie and Ruth were an older married couple from Long Isand, who used to come all the way into Manhattan to hear us sing. They stood in the crowds, watching us one weekend, were very touched and invited us out for cappucino. For hours they asked us about our music, our relationship, and our view of life. They were deep, heartfelt, intelligent people. Later, they invited us to visit their home, enjoy a dip in the pool, and stay over. We tried to keep in touch after that and even met them in Florida many years later. Bernie was a stockbroker on Wall Street. I never knew anything about stocks, but since he became such a good friend, one day I asked him how much money I would need to be in the stockmarket. He said even $250 (my weekly salary at the time) would be enough. I knew I'd get another paycheck in just seven days, so I went in with a tip he had about a penny stock. In just four weeks, it went up sixteen points, just at the point when we needed money to ship all our possessions to Florida, but not before trying just one more penny stock, That one doubled in just two weeks. Meeting Bernie, the money earned quickly just when it was needed….that was magic to us. We even made enough for a deposit on a garden apartment on a canal…the Venice of the South.
One weekend night, performing in the streets, we noticed this handsome gentleman, dressed in a white shirt with loose tie, holding a wine glass, and watching us sing. He later approached us, we talked quite a while and he invited us to come to his apartment. He had a good taperecorder and offered to record us, which was great. That week Richie wrote a song called “Turning The Corner”. When we went over and sang it to him, tears flooded his eyes, and he confided in us that he had watched his extremely beautiful, young wife deteriorate and die from cancer. He felt like the song was written just for him, very touching and healing. So we bonded. The connection was there, like family. During those weeks, Richie was offered a contract from a lead character of Sesame Street who also was the star of the Broadway hit musical, Pippin, for one of Richie's children's books. We needed a lawyer. Not only did Ken Rome just happen to be a lawyer, but he just happened to be an entertainment lawyer who amazingly did not want to charge us anything. His wife had been working with Gertrude Stein, on a concept for a children's album, so Ken had just become very knowledgeable about artistic contracts. Again, just in time….more magic, I would say.
The last story is a must. We were in ‘our spot' on a Friday night with lots of people out and about. After one of our songs, this guy comes up to us. “Hi, I'm Mike. I live right up there,” he said, pointing up at the apartments across the street. “Every weekend I see crowds of people around you, so I decided to come and check you out. I'm very impressed, and I would like to become your manager. May I invite you out to eat and talk this week?” He then went on to tell us how he's best friends with Bob Dylan and so on. Richie and I could hear each other's thoughts saying, “sure, sure…sounds like a great line”. Still he seemed like a nice guy, and who could refuse a free meal?
He took us to a very expensive restaurant, we formed a relationship and before we knew it, he invited to his loft apartment party. We climbed the long stairway up to his front door. There stood two huge, muscular bodyguards, screening people. Mike told them we were cool and in we went. Standing inside near the entrance, we eyed the crowded room. Within minutes, Patti Smyth rushed in, right up to Richie. “Do you have a joint?” she asked him. “No, I don't,” replied Richie, whereupon she quickly lost interest in him, quickly dashing away to find what she was looking for.
On our right was one of those long, sectional couches that are L-shaped. At the end sat Eric Anderson, one of Richie's favorite folk artists, drawing on a pad of paper and oh so good looking, talking to Rambling Jack Elliott who was standing up next to him. Then sat poet Alan Ginsberg and one of my very favorite singer/songwriters, Phil Ochs. I listened to his albums in Montreal, over and move again He was so handsome and talented. However, that day this was not the case. He was fat, with pimples, wearing thick, dark glasses and drunk out of his mind. Mike welcomed us and pointing at the couch said, “Why don't you have a seat?” So I sat down right next to Phil Ochs. He was yelling and obnoxiously pinching girls breasts as they walked by. Finally he threw up all over the place. It was so sad to see him like this. I guess fame doesn't solve everything.
This party was for Bob Dylan who had cameramen videotaping him while he was singing with his guitar up in Mike's bedroom. Richie and I could watch him sitting on Mike's bed playing because it was in a loft, so there were no walls. As Dylan walked around the party, I watched him, but never felt any excitement particularly. He was very annoyed at Phil Och's behavior and asked his bodyguards to kick Phil out, which caused a bit of a ruckus. Shortly after that party, Phil Ochs killed himself.
A couple that lived next door to Mike, came over to us and told us that they loved listening to us in the streets and could we please play some songs. “But Dylan's singing upstairs now,” said Richie. “We don't care,” they replied. “We'd rather listen to you.” More egotistical musicians would have grabbed the limelight, but Richie shyly declined in respect for Dylan recording upstairs. We still wonder if we messed up an amazing opportunity that could have changed our lives. Of course, it could have also blacklisted us for all we know. That week, People magazine featured that party with a picture of Dylan and Patti Smyth walking down the street, in front of Mike's Greenwich Village apartment. Later that year, Mike got us in to see Dylan perform at Montreal's Place des Arts, and with my sister as his date, took her backstage to meet Dylan.
At Mike's next masquarade party, we met sang our songs and Buzzy Linhart, who wrote the song “ Friends”, made popular by Bette Midler, really enjoyed our music and invited us to perform in his Manhattan health food restaurant, which we accepted. All this from one street singing encounter.