Sunday, April 07, 2013

BUS STORY # 335 (Portrait # 21: The Boys In The Band)

New bus link to MediaCityUK hits the right note by busboy4
New bus link to MediaCityUK hits the right note Commuters en route to MediaCityUK were treated to a unique performance by two musicians from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra last week, who took centre stage on the new Salford Quays bus link.

It takes a while for all of us to board this morning, and once I’m up the stairs, I see why.

There are two guys sitting in the front bench seats, with five large bags between them. We’re having to thread our way past the baggage, and some of us have bags of our own that have to be lifted up and over the blockage.

One of the guys is an old guy, a big guy, with an old fashioned red baseball cap, rounded, with white stitching. There’s a patch on the front that says “Martin & Co, est. 1833.” The fact that one of his bags is a guitar case narrows my guess (later confirmed by Google): the C. F. Martin company, creators of the legendary Martin guitars, still made here in America.

The guitar case is fancy, a blue soft wrap that looks well-padded inside. He’s holding it in front of him, the bottom resting between his feet, both arms wrapped around it. The other two bags are out there exposed to whatever trauma the influx of riders might inflict upon them. No question which is the precious cargo here.

The guy next to him looks half his age. A little guy. He’s got a natty little fedora, brim down in front, up in back, and a pair of dark frame glasses. He’s got an unusual jacket, with wooden pegs on the sleeve where one would expect buttons, and a large, colorful, circular logo on the left breast which remains maddeningly obscured the whole trip. There’s a large suitcase on rollers in the aisle in front of him, and on his lap, a treasure chest all in black leather, with two snaps in front and a handle on top.

Well, he carries it like a treasure chest. I imagine the inside: a well-padded, custom-fitted chamber for a broken down clarinet. Or flute. Or some other musical instrument. Too small for a trumpet...

I look at the two of them and think “jazz.”

The young guy is chattering away. He’s talking about everything -- food, the weather, airports... He’s got an accent, and I spend a lot of time failing to nail it. Maybe South American. Brazil? Argentina? I hear him explain how he’ll be catching a Lufthansa flight in New York to Dusseldorf, how long it will take, how much it cost...

Which is when it occurs to me the two of them might not be together at all. And then I realize the old guy’s conversation amounts to a few short acknowledgments when a response is called for. Once, I catch an expression of obvious forbearance in his face. Maybe the two of them just happen to be taking the same bus to the airport this morning.

And maybe the young guy’s “treasure chest” doesn’t hold a musical instrument after all. Which means that maybe he’s not a musician, and they are not going somewhere to play jazz or any other kind of music together.

In the space of fifteen minutes, I’ve seen the formation, a bit of the tour, and the breakup of a band. I’d’ve missed the whole thing if I hadn't been on the tour bus.


The photo at the top of this story is posted by permission of MediaCityUK .


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