I know better than to walk…it could be healthy or something. Lord knows I don’t want to do anything healthy! But we did take a stroll last month. We went to the McKinney Art Walk, in downtown McKinney, Texas.
It was a beautiful evening, with the moon hanging in the sky like a silver earring. The town is not a booming metropolis, and there weren’t tons of shops open, as we had expected. I’m told that the monthly event is just getting started, so that might have been why more places didn’t choose to stay open late. We were a little disappointed that there wasn’t more art to ponder.
I was hoping to get some pictures, but about the only thing that caught our eye was this mannequin in an antique store. Something about the jewel glittering in the bellybutton got our attention. I was jealous.
We had reservations at CafÃ© MÃ¡laga for 8:00 to hear some friends of ours play music. It’s a “tapas” restaurant. I told my husband we were going to a tapas restaurant, and his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. Until he realized that I said “tapas” not “topless.” I guess you hear what you want to hear, eh?
Our stomachs were growling, and we didn’t think we could wait so late to eat. We decided to stop at a delightful restaurant on the Square called “Spoons for a light meal, so we could still enjoy the tapas later. I nearly stayed there.
There was a teenage boy standing at the door with his guitar when we walked inside. He was playing music for a crowd that was only intent on the food mounded on their plates. All I could think was, “How painful is this?” As a storyteller, I’ve worked gigs where people are eating while you perform. It’s excruciating, and I didn’t envy him.
The boy was not anyone you would look at twice; he was gangly and thin. He hid behind enormous black glasses and his long, dark hair was draped over his features. I could hear my mother’s voice in my head as I looked at him, “Get that hair out of your face!”
The child was obviously mortified by the experience in front of the crowd, and was just singing to the floor, bless his heart. He was just a typical teenager. Until he started singing! Oh. My. Gosh!
I thought, “There must be some mistake! I must have died and gone to Heaven, because I hear an angel singing!” He had a magnificent high, clear voice. To please the older crowd in front of him, he was playing songs like “Yesterday” and other things we old fogeys might recognize. But you could tell his heart wasn’t in it. I don’t think it would have been his first choice of music.
I decided to throw him for a loop. I waltzed up to him, popped $5 in his tip jar, told him he had one of the most “beeyoutiful” voices I’d ever heard in my life, and I requested a song. What I asked him to sing suited his voice: 100 Years by Five For Fighting. I can’t embed it, but take a moment and go listen. I’ll wait.
Hmm. Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmm…you back?
OK, so that boy’s face lit up (behind the glasses and the hair, he was actually quite handsome!). He began to sing. He sang with feeling! Even without piano to accompany him, he did a nice job. He got a good response from that, with people actually stopping eating long enough to clap. So, he tried some Depeche Mode and some more contemporary songs that obviously pleased him more. That gave him confidence, and he started making eye contact with people in the restaurant. He got himself an audience, and this gal was loathe to leave. Stupid me! I didn’t even get his name!!
We had to move on, though, because my friends, Rudy Littrell and Duane Brown, were going to be playing and I love their music, too. They are called The E-Flat Porch Band (the porch where they practice resonates to the key of E-flat). We met years ago when we performed at the same festival, and our paths have crossed many times over the years. I listen to their cds as I drive across Texas. It makes the miles go by quickly and painlessly.
I’ll play their music for you if they ever get a YouTube video. I’m after them to do that every time I see them. Their music is a mix of blues, folk, jazz and country swing. Rudy is the best soda pop box player I have ever heard. I’m from Texas, y’all, and I’ve heard myself some soda pop box players, so take it from me. They were being joined at CafÃ© MÃ¡laga by their friend Steve, from Austin, who plays a pretty mean harmonica. I’m a sucker, so to speak, for “harp music.”
I must say it was a pretty darned good evening! We had a grand time hearing their songs, and I even got the most magnificent tapas at that restaurant! Grilled dates wrapped in bacon! Some of you knew there was going to be bacon in this story.
If you live in North Texas, or are passing through, you might be interested in visiting McKinney. It’s a fun little town any day of the week, and if you like antiques, there is plenty of shopping for you. I don’t know how much “art” there is, because we didn’t see much. You have to walk a little in order to see all the shops, but you can negate the effects of that easily by stopping at every restaurant you see for a bite.
If you notice that little boy playing his guitar, don’t discount him on his looks. Stop long enough to listen. And, get his name for me, would you?
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