Thursday, April 3, 2008

Who is the Flute Man?

This is why I got into (alternative) journalism.

If you've ever walked around downtown Louisville near what is now 4th street Live you've seen him, 'Flute Man', standing in front of The Seelbach hotel, with a shiny flute, playing for any passerby whether they're willing to spare change or not. Though he appears as a rustic LEO's cover story by Shawn Hudson this week profiles 'Flute Man', "a 63-year-old flutist who may be the only street musician in downtown Louisville" with an incredible journey.

From 'The love song of Kamaal 'Flute Man' Ibn-Duriyah Tilford':

Flute Man has other, less-mythic names, but the people who traffic his playground typically don’t know them. For each person who drops a spare quarter into his plastic gas station cup, another 30 lengthen their strides and avert their eyes. It is embarrassing to see.

He is allowed to continue busking outside the hotel’s Starbucks because, urban detachment and indifference of some passersby notwithstanding, Flute Man is a passive entertainer. Mark Butcher, food services manager of The Seelbach — a man who could shut down Flute Man’s shop if he wanted — says he has received only one complaint, “from someone who tried to steal from his cup.” Katie Dunn, employed there a year and a half, agrees.

“The only time he’s had altercations is when he felt threatened or insulted,” she says. “She (the woman who tried to steal money from his cup) must have pissed him off. Supposedly, he tried to smack her with his flute.”

Asked about this, Flute Man nods, though he won’t verify the claim: “One day, I had to knock a cat out in the street,” he says, leaving it there.

Butcher says Flute Man usually keeps an eye out for troublemakers, and that he keeps them away from the hotel and his “place of business.” Besides, he admires the music and the man’s determination, though he knows little about him.

And remember, losers read LEO.

No comments: