How we started and why we hit the road.
This is our first blog post for the summer. For the next two months we’ll be talking about “carving your own path.” Check our blog each Friday for a new post as well as an occasional guest artist with inspiring stories to share.
We’d like to begin with the first few major events that shaped our project at its foundations.
Our first month together in Provincetown, MA.
It was in late May when we drove Tim’s old Ford station wagon from Santa Fe, NM to Provincetown, MA. This was to be Ford’s final hike across the country, after having driven a similar expanse ten times in the last decade. Luckily, Provincetown is only 3 miles long. We can walk everywhere.
In June, Anna purchased her first glockenspiel. We wanted to try covering some songs from the film score of Amelie, a film and soundtrack that was a romantic part of us falling in love.
A week after the glockenspiel landed on our doorstep, we took our musical arrangements to the streets. Anna was pretty stiff then, since she’d never played the glockenspiel before (she was a classically trained pianist) but our performance was still well received. In fact, our first hired gig as Kangaroo Rat began to unfold around that time when we met a man with two adorable twins that bobbed their heads to our playing. This man, who we bonded with through daily performances for his entertained twins, said he might have a gig for us in the future.
A month later, our new friend revealed his identity as Alexis Bittar, a jewelry designer for Bloomingdales and Michelle Obama. He’d told us he had started on the streets himself, selling jewelry in Manhattan from the age of eight. Alexis invited us to play his joint birthday party with Iris Apfel in Brooklyn, NY. This was a pretty flashy sign for us that we should keep doing what we’re doing. It was also inspiring to meet someone who truly made it with their art, starting on streets that are much more challenging than Provincetown’s Commercial St.
Making the decision to take our music the road
Performing in public places and traveling to other cities has been the most accessible way for us to fund and promote ourselves. We’ll talk more about the benefits of busking in a later post. For now we’ll address the two primary perks from busking around the country: first, we can reach out to other communities that wouldn’t hear us play otherwise; second, we can escape winter weather (where it’s very difficult to street perform).
In order to travel, we needed to have money and a vehicle…
Let’s begin with the money. Cuffy’s of Provincetown, a retail store on Commercial Street, is owned by a dedicated supporter of the arts. He invited us to play outside his store every evening from 7–10 pm, which ensured us a place to play on competitive evenings. This enabled us to save up our tips in addition to a generous donation from Cuffy himself, putting away money to propel our musical projects after the summer season. The rest of our funds, after leaving Provincetown, would have to come from performing around the country.
Like we said before, we also needed a vehicle. Ford had made his last big trip. During the last few months of the summer, while we were looking for an affordable solution, we had a sign on Anna’s glockenspiel that said, “Looking for a cheap vehicle.” One sunny day, we went for a quick walk. On our way back to our set up outside the Ptown library, Tim and I passed by an antique shop…
Sitting outside and peering up at us was a pensive looking ceramic monkey just tall enough to peer over our tip bucket.
Sold. Eight dollars later, we were walking happily back to our instruments with our new monkey, Steve, in arms, when a local approached us about our sign. His name is Eric, the owner of an art, furniture and design store called Room 68, and he said he might have a vehicle for us. Eric introduced us his ’95 Volvo sedan, previously owned by a famous art curator in Boston. Amazingly, Eric gave the car to us for free. This car took us all around the country, putting 35k miles on it during our 9 month road trip.
If there’s anything to take back from these stories, it’s that when you’re an artist, the people who support you are indispensable.
We certainly wouldn’t be going all in if we didn’t have any evidence that our music uplifted other people’s lives. Fortunately for us, the thousands of smiles we’ve enjoyed this last year has been the tip of our happy iceberg. Through sharing our passions, we have found valuable friendships that have encouraged us to continue doing what we love to do.
Stay tuned for next week when we talk about the consequences in living in a car and tent for 9 months!