I’m in Poland. In Krakow. I was hoping something – a song – would jump out at me for this blog. Nothing has as yet. Krakow is absolutely lovely but most of the bars or cafes I’ve been in so far have played nondescript dance music. So instead of a song this week and because I did want to write about something musical related to Poland I’m posting this picture.

Before I discuss it I’m going to stress here, so there’s no confusion, I’m sure my lack of musical revelation is not indicative of the music scene in Krakow or Poland. I’m sure the music scene is bloody brilliant and I just haven’t come across it as yet. And if I really put the effort in I might begin to scratch the surface. But I’m being lazy, I know. I want it to fall in my lap. For something to take me by surprise.

You see though I’m careful to use the qualifier “as yet”. I’m here until Tuesday so there’s a bit of time left, and maybe even this post will turn up something. If the latter occurs I’ve written the above explanation so I’ll receive suggestions, a steer in an interesting direction, and not perhaps invective filled messages.

So what’s the photo about? It’s from Friday night. I was sitting in the main market square when these musicians came over. Next to me (you can just see one of their heads in the photo bottom right) were a tripartite of Englishman, English woman and a Scotsman. I’d been sat next to them for about fifteen minutes. They were the most humourless group. Or seemed it. Ok, right, who am I to judge? Out of context and everything. But their reaction to the musicians was part disgust, part indignation.

Now, the musicians weren’t too loud and the man with the cup (out of shot) wasn’t overbearing. The music they were playing was traditional, I reckon. It was together, it was rehearsed but it did lack something – passion or interest maybe? They even seemed a bit embarrassed. But the thing I was trying to keep in mind was that they were working musicians – maybe they were playing this song for the hundredth time tonight (if the loss of connection with playing songs can happen to Dylan – as described in his book Chronicles – it can happen to anyone); or maybe the bass player saved up his enthusiasm for the metal band he plays in; or the accordion player for the odd electronic music he makes when he gets in in the early hours – all blips, pulses, all quiet enough not to make his family wake. The guitar player? Maybe this was his thing. He was just having a bad night.

So when the man collecting came to me I got whatever change I had and put it in the cup. He got nothing from next door. The woman looked at me. I felt I had to explain. I leaned over and said, “I better give them something, I hired them. They’re early”. She laughed to be fair to her. From the other two though, as if the lack of an Irishman had stolen their capacity for a joke, I got not a flicker. I thought it was funny. Anyway, here’s a Zweick and whatever I have in my pockets to musicians working the nights to disinterested tourists. May they keep safe whatever made them pick up instruments in the first place.

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