A man in an argyle sweater and khakis has set up shop, busking on a violin. He has seated himself between the children's face painting and the power of produce stall. He has chosen a location warmed by full sun, as robust a sunbeam as one will find today. He has also chosen a location right before four trash cans, empty trash cans but still trash cans. The staff giving children tokens to buy vegetables have been busy. It's too cold in the barn's shade to hold even a short lesson. The La La Land girls have turned children into pixies and eleves at at steady pace, amazingly face painting children for mere tips in a jar. Last night, children walked Western Avenue adorned in face paint, mimicking tigers and sprites and gesturing with ribbon streamer wands. Today, children walk the farmers market adorned again in face paint, mimicking a different ethereal creature than last night. The entire month has become Halloween in downtown Muskegon. Kids must love it, especially as fresh cider and candy apples await for purchase along the stalls, cherry turnovers too. Better choices than Halloween candy await at every turn.
The violinist didn't strike me as familiar. He must have moved to another location, hoping for better tips in his open, worn case. Maybe it's an unwritten rule, but buskers only work the ends of the market aisles. One of my friends has a doctorate in Philosophy, but he pays his small monthly bills by busking, Mandolin busking, at the north corner of the market's inner most aisle. He pulls a two hour shift by Aldea coffee, Laughing Tree Bakery and the farmer who sells watermelon by the slice and goes home with about a hundred in his frog waste basket, the better to secure those fivers that catch on the wind.
The main stage operates different. A popular local musician named Kwame curates the buskers on the stage. When performing on the main stage, the busker is allowed amplification, and the music carries from the barn to the Morris Street Pavilion. I was loving what I was hearing, and I emerged from my perch in the barn to hear more songs by a woman who had just taken the stage. It was a bit chilly out in the open, but the picnic tables around the stage enjoyed full sun and I was lulled into three songs, cover songs performed well with personal interpretation. Kwame spotted me, and drew me into conversation. I quizzed him, "Kwame, what's up with this talent"? "Well, she found the farmers market. She had just won a Detroit Music Award, so that was a green light for me. Her name is Mary McGuire". "Nice pull, Kwame", and we hugged and went our ways. Mary McGuire sang, "Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone", as I rolled away on my Schwinn Admiral.
When I arrived at Unruly Brewing, where like Cheers everybody knows my name, I looked Mary McGuire up. Her Detroit Music Award couldn't be fresher, awarded in 2016. She even shared the stage for a duet awards night with perennial favorite, the polite, crowd-pleasing Jill Jack. McGuire had plans to put plenty of miles on her boots after busking in Grand Rapids, seeking that ArtPrize gold. Later tonight, she'll cross Michigan on M-46, shortest route, to make a gig at a barbecue house in Frankenmuth. Tomorrow will find her at the Sunday Farmers Market in East Lansing, one of my favorites. Mary McGuire is proof that the best never rest. Catch McGuire this October as her tour touches a farmers market near you.