Fiddler off the Roof

The devil went down to Petaluma...The solo violin soundtrack frequently accompanying the bustle of Petaluma’s Kentucky St. comes courtesy of Arias Beardslee, an itinerate street musician and Internet entrepreneur, whose busking efforts supplement his gig as an online books retailer. I thought this was a tad ironic considering that he often plays in front of Copperfield’s Books, which already has enough trouble with big box book stores — but, hey, that’s the free market economy right? Despite his forays into the digital age, Beardslee’s repertoire is resolutely old school: gypsy tunes, Bartok, Irish jigs, chestnuts from the American songbook. But what does it pay?

“Enough to make life comfortable. I’m a pretty cheap date,” chuckles Beardslee. “If I play for an hour and get two dollars, I’m really, really happy. I feel grateful either way. What’s interesting is that when I feel like I’m playing the best I’ve ever played in my whole life – you have like these pinnacle moments – I know there’s nothing in the hat,” he laughs. “Then the times when I feel I’m just jack-assing out there, without even one creative iota involved, I’m making ten dollar bills. I’d like to get some scientific guys to take a look at it – there’s got to be some kind of formula there.”