a seed in the desert
Leaving Las Vegas
Five years ago, I was snapping some pictures around Las Vegas when I spotted Drew Dunbar jamming on his guitar on a pedestrian bridge. I’d just finished a freelance gig at the convention center and was getting ready to fly back home, which meant I had my sound recorder on me, too.
As tourists and locals streamed up and down the bridge, it struck me how little attention his great cover of Hey Joe was getting. As soon as I got back to Miami, I uploaded the video and the response convinced me of a few things. First, I wasn’t the only one who thought Drew rocked and that sometimes we’re just not ready to take notice of the amazing things all around us.
It was like finding a seed in the desert. I knew there were thousands of buskers like Drew out there who deserved a more engaged audience. I also knew the world was moving in a direction that made busking more challenging than ever. Not only are we distracted by all the gadgets as we walk down the streets of our cities, but cash is also disappearing. On top of everything, the video started going viral and I discovered that multiple record labels had claimed a copyright on Drew’s performance and my video, and were collecting all the ad revenue!
All of these things played a role in my desire to create a project that would restore balance to the world of public performance art in the digital age. I fiddled with different ideas for years. But, ultimately, there was something missing. Namely, Drew.
Lost and Found
When I asked Drew if I could record him he was more than accommodating, going as far as to give me some tips on where to place my Tascam D-40 for best results. After “Hey Joe”, he played a song he wrote, which I also recorded. We got to talking a bit afterwards. He didn’t have a phone number or an email address to give me, so I told him to look for his name on YouTube soon. I bid him farewell and flew home later that day.
I kept Drew’s original track in a hard drive, intending to upload it only after I was able to establish contact with him so he could benefit from the exposure directly. I assumed that ‘the Internet’ would bridge this gap rather quickly, but life had other plans. I lost my home and most everything else in a sudden reversal of fortune less than two months after coming back from Vegas. Needless to say, any plans for world domination would have to wait.
During the long process of getting back on my feet, I saw Drew’s cover garner more and more views. I’d left a call out in the video’s description when I had first uploaded it for anyone who may run into Drew on the strip to send me an email. Almost five years later, Drew, himself, sent me an email. Except, it was from someone else’s email address. My attempts to reach out went nowhere, but his ostensible reappearance rekindled the spark for Inspired Ground.