On Friday evening, towards dusk, on the northeast corner of the courthouse square, Kid Kazooey was tickling the keys of a console piano and Ross Martinie Eiler was brushing out the rhythm on a snare drum.
A bit earlier, Eiler’s trio, Martini’s Boogie Three, which adds a saxophone to the mix, played a set.
I take it as an unmistakable sign that the pandemic is waning: Busking near the corner of Walnut and 6th in downtown Bloomington has returned. I can hear it from my apartment a half block east on 6th Street.
Earlier in the week, two young men, one on banjo and the other on guitar, launched into their rendition of “Folsom Prison Blues.” It’s the Johnny Cash tune that starts: “I hear the train a comin’, it’s rolling round the bend / And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when.”
One verse in, a guy who I pegged as down on his luck stopped to listen. He asked the pair to start from the top—he wanted to sing along. They obliged. The duo became a trio for one song. He then crossed to the other side of Walnut Street to continue his solitary ambling north.
On Friday, no one interrupted Kid Kazooey and Eiler. At least not for the time I was listening.
But when they cued up “Linus and Lucy,” a guy who had already walked past, and was mid-block headed south on Walnut, shouted along to the melody: “Duh nuh nuh, Nuh nuh nuh, NUUH nuh!” His enthusiasm may have been fueled by an adult beverage.
The sign on the piano read, “Yes, we take requests.”
My standard request, no matter the venue or the instrument, is always “Clay Pigeons” by Blaze Foley. Kid Kazooey said he knew of the song but didn’t know it—so he offered something from John Prine.
That’s not a stretch—Prine recorded “Clay Pigeons” and ran with some of the same crowd as Foley.
Instead of “Clay Pigeons” Kid Kazooey played Prine’s “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore.” That one includes the lines:
Now Jesus don’t like killin’
No matter what the reason’s for,
And your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.
That one sounds great on a piano.
I’m not sure “Clay Pigeons” would work as well.
I ventured, “Clay Pigeons is not really a piano tune anyway.”
For people who stop by the courthouse square on Fridays in the coming weeks, to listen to their live music, Kid Kazooey’s response to me leaves the door wide open when it comes to requests.
His reply: “Every song is a piano tune. Every song’s a piano tune!”