Harlem Blues


A street musician doing what he does best, working his magic with the tenor clarinet. I’d had spotted him earlier the evening before standing at the corner of 7th Ave on 47th Street, and had snapped a couple of quick shots then. The next day, I ran into him again, this time on 50th, standing in front of the local drugstore, DUANEread. I stood from a distant, burying myself among the pedestrians, and watched him played. He glanced towards my direction a few times. I was however invisible by then, disappearing into the shadows of the other side. Content with what I’d heard, I moved on towards the direction of neon lights, again into the busy streets in search of decisive moments. Later that night as I took refuge inside a corner Starbucks from the still 90 plus degree heat of Manhattan, I again heard the familiar sound. He had moved three blocks down and is now a few feet away from the exit door. Reaching inside my pocket, I looked to see what I had. There was only one bill and it was a twenty. So I headed towards the counter and asked the barista for change. She politely refused saying that unless someone is paying with cash, she could not open the register.

To make the story short, I approached the musician and explained to him my dilemma. He looked at me puzzled and said “What’d yo need change pher?” Awkwardly, I replied “You’re right.”