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Music Interviews

Busking In Lansing, To Rave Reviews

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 12:02 pm

All summer long, Weekend Edition has been sampling the sounds of America's street musicians. The latest to catch our ear is Alexis Dawdy, a young violinist who returned to her hometown of Lansing, Mich., to study at Michigan State University — and do a little busking on the side.

"I'm actually not a music major. This is really a hobby that accidentally became a profession," Dawdy says. "I'm studying linguistics, and I'm 17 credits out from graduation. My goal is to do it debt-free, and this helps a lot. This pays for books and this pays for food."

Dawdy says she's encountered nothing but hospitality from her neighbors in Lansing.

"I have people that come by every day — there's one gentleman in particular," she says. "If my life was a story, he would be my guardian angel. He's brought me things like books, coins from different countries, maple syrup that he made himself — and every day he tips me very generously, between $8 and $30."

It's not just individuals. Dawdy says Lansing's businesses have supported her just as much.

"I honestly think that the business district of downtown Lansing is just the perfect environment for what I do," she says. "Weston's Kewpee is actually an incredibly old restaurant, and many people consider it a staple of what Lansing is. ... Every day, a girl from Kewpee's brings me out a Coke to help keep me cool. And every day, Mr. Weston comes out and tips me a dollar, which is pretty great — to know that they like me here so much that they actually help take care of me."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

We've been sampling the sounds of street musicians this summer on WEEKEND EDITION.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: Today, we hear from Alexis Dawdy in Lansing, Michigan. She's played her violin on the streets for almost a decade.

ALEXIS DAWDY: Basically, I was 14, too young for most places to hire me, and I really wanted a job. I really wanted to make some money. And so one day my mom jokingly suggested that I put on some striped stockings and open up my violin case and see if I can get some tips. And I did that.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAWDY: I'm a student at MSU. I'm studying linguistics, and I'm 17 credits out from graduation. My goal is to do it debt-free, and this helps a lot. This pays for books and pays for food.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAWDY: I have people who come by every day. There's one gentleman in particular. If my life was a story, he would be my guardian angel. I mean, he's brought me things like books, coins from different countries, maple syrup that he made himself. And every day, he tips me very generously, you know between eight and $30.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW")

DAWDY: This is my third year I've been playing in Lansing, and I honestly think that the business district of downtown Lansing is just the perfect environment for what I do. And when I say that Lansing has been good to me, I'm talking about the businesses I've chosen to play in front of.

Weston's QP is actually an incredibly old restaurant, and many people consider it a staple of what Lansing is. It's been here forever. You see I have a pop here. Every day, a girl from QP's brings me out a coke, you know, to help keep me cool. And every day, Mr. Weston comes out and tips me a dollar, which is pretty great, I mean, to know that they like me here so much that they actually help take care of me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW")

WERTHEIMER: Violinist Alexis Dawdy. That was recorded in Lansing, Michigan by Scott Pohl of member station WKAR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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