"The streets of downtown aren't safe without the blues." A man carrying a case of Budweiser shouted this out to bluesman Pete Kelly. Kelly has been a street musician in the Gaslamp for 13 years, or so he claimed as he sat against the large window of the Z Gallery at Fifth and Market. He was playing his harmonica and singing in a loud baritone.
"I hear you from my loft every night," said a woman who stopped to put a dollar bill in the paper bag Kelly had in front of him.
"How much do you make a night?" I asked.
"Thirty to 40 dollars. I'm now out of the wheelchair, so I can't do this all day like some do."
He told me he'd been in a wheelchair due to a car accident.
I asked him if he ever does private parties.
"I charge $100 for an hour. Three hours will run you $500."
"You don't come cheap," I said.
"I'll be starting school soon," he said. "Going to Grossmont, majoring in philosophy."