Pike Place Market provides a smorgasbord for the senses. The smells of boiled and stewed seafood, Spanish and Asian specialties, and flowers, herbs and spices drift through the long hallways. Pink salmon and red grouper sit on ice before a crowd of international visitors while neon lights shine overhead. Patrons run their fingers through fruit stands where peddlers push peach slices in front of you, in the shops people rifle through shelves of old signs and records and hold hand-made statues and trinkets up in contemplation. Some raise spoonfulls of ciapporo–an Italian seafood stew with a tomato broth–while others chew on croissants and skewered meats.
But the sounds of the market make Seattle ring like no other city. Besides overhearing conversations in a litany of languages, you’ll encounter skilled street musicians entertaining the steady stream of market goers and watching their guitar cases fill with dollar bills.
An old man in boots, a leather vest, and a wide-brimmed hat plays guitar and sings about New Orleans in a voice like Louis Armstrong’s. Four young men with mandolins and acoustic guitars play an eerie Americana with an off-balance beat, arresting shoppers with their pleading rhythms. A cellist contorts herself around her instrument as she pulls a long vibrato tone.
In this video, see the jangly piano man who wheels his workplace into position each day and uses his visibility for polemics. Around the corner at the Seattle Museum of Art, a large black shadow bangs down a hammer ad infinitum. I heard the echo of a mournful accordion for two days before sniffing out the sound. The antic accordionist rewards my efforts with a look back into the camera.