A man in a hat plays free grocery store folk for shoppers.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
On a bustling Monday afternoon inside of the Trader Joe’s Monterey, shoppers pass towering boxes of garlic mashed potatoes and tables covered with fruits and vegetables. Most are in their own bubble, checking off items on a mental grocery list, fantasizing about getting home, finally slipping off their shoes and relaxing for a moment on the couch.
Then their private bubbles meet their demise: A man strolling around the grocery store wearing a Greek fisherman’s hat pulls them out of themselves for a moment. Local acoustic guitarist Bud Brown plays soothing instrumentals, folk songs and pop ballads for the crowds that surge around him in the store’s wide aisles.
Timothy and Mary McGuire take a break from shopping and just listen to Brown performing while sipping small paper cups of coffee.
“It changes the atmosphere,” Timothy says.
“He’s pleasant,” Mary continues. “It’s a great choice of music.”
Shoppers are not the only ones affected by Brown’s music.
“It mellows everything out,” says Ryan Pagan, a Trader Joe’s crewmember. “Today is really busy. It keeps everyone calm.”
Brown says he came up with the idea of playing music in the grocery store this summer. He stood behind a long line of people waiting to check out at Trader Joe’s and thought, “These people need someone to entertain them.”
The balladeer performs downtown every Sunday and Monday from 4pm to 7pm at the store. It’s not the $20 bag of groceries Brown is given each week that keeps him coming back.
“These people who come in here love the music,” he says, “so it’s hard to stop.”