44 Banjos and Sushi

Commissioned by Louis B. Nunn, Governor of  Kentucky, 1968

I was a real go-getter when I moved to NYC, and I would search every nook and cranny of Craigslist to find gigs.

One night I found a gig that sounded perfect.

WANTED: Banjo player to play My Old Kentucky Home at LES Sushi Bar. $20.

At the time I was giving myself banjo lessons, and one of the lessons was playing My Old Kentucky Home. So I emailed the contact on the ad.

A woman responded and told me her friend had always wanted to become a Kentucky Colonel and someone she knew went through some back channels to get him the honor. They needed someone to play My Old Kentucky Home at a private surprise ceremony at the sushi bar.

I agreed, and on the day I took my banjo down to the restaurant and stood outside tuning and practicing until the woman came and found me. She shoved $20 in my pocket, and led me to the alcove where the restrooms were. I could see the table from there, and she would signal when they were ready.

After about 5 minutes of me dodging patrons, she signaled, and I busted into the room  playing My Old Kentucky Home. Everyone laughed and clapped, and within 2 minutes it was over.

I got back on the train and went home; happy to get paid $10 per performance minute.

To this date, it is the most random gig I have ever had.

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