From Backpacking Street Musician to Front Page News And TV in Salta

From Backpacking Street Musician to Front Page News And TV in Salta

My first two years out of high school were spent working at boring 9-to-5 jobs. The thing is, what really was in my head was music and travelling. I’ve always had a knack for putting myself to the test.

Crossing the limit of my personal boundaries has always been a hobby of mine. I like seeing how much I can take and how far I can go.

That said, it isn’t hard to imagine that I wasn’t enjoying my job at all. All I did was hope that my future would be completely different.

But hoping doesn’t last long for me, so I quit. I knew that music was my passion, and that was what I wanted to do. How would I make money though?

At first, I went through some pretty painful months. I felt lost and confused. The courage to throw myself at music completely was yet to be mustered. I spent many days and nights bumming around feeling sorry for myself. I sent dozens of resumes to other jobs I knew I would end up hating. I was heading nowhere fast and had no real objectives. Then for some reason, something just clicked. I decided to become a street musician.

I was a drummer, but I wanted to sing and play guitar. I learned the basic chords and put together a list of easy songs. One of my buddies also wanted to try it out, so we went together.

All I did that year was play on the street every day. I also played in two bands, went to music school and private lessons. Suddenly, I had become a full-fledged musician. This gave me a new sense of being. I’d felt I was a musician for a while, but had never assumed the role completely. This was a whole new game. 

That same year, my two best friends and I started tossing around the idea of going on a trip. The idea was to backpack around South America with no return date.

We wanted to have all the time in the world to travel and let anything that had to happen, happen. Once again, my hunger for new experiences kicked in.

Not only was I going to travel, but also play music to support myself. If I could play on the streets of Buenos Aires, I could do it anywhere. This was the ultimate adventure.

The trip started in Argentina. We visited many places until we got to the city of Salta. One of my friend’s family had a small house there. It was completely free for us to use.

So, we decided to stay there for a while to save some money and get to know the city better. I’d already played music in a couple places and had done relatively well. But there was something special about Salta’s vibe.

There were a bunch of spots to set up around the city, and I tried many different ones. Finally, I settled for a particular corner of the main plaza, right in the heart of the city.

People were constantly walking by and there were all kinds of things going on everywhere. There were also other street musicians, clowns, crazy shows, shoe shiners, you name it.

Not to mention, there were restaurants, stores and a big cathedral all around where I was playing. There was a lot of movement every night. I remember thinking, “This is going to be a great place to play”.

I’d go to the same spot and play every night. It was a blast. Many other musicians would also come and play with me.

People would stop and ask for songs, and I’d tell them my story and share music. It was a moment of pure inspiration and living life on my terms.

One day, a person came up to me and asked if I’d like to do an interview. Usually if what the person is proposing makes sense, I go for it. At the moment, I thought it was for some kind of independent online blog or something. I said yes and gave the man my number.

A couple days later, I got a call to do the interview on the phone. He asked a bunch of questions about my passion for music, and what I’d done so far as an artist. We also talked about the trip I was doing and what my plans were.

After the interview was over, the man asked me if next time I went to play he could film me. I accepted thinking it would be cool to share on the Internet or something.

That same day I told my friends about the whole thing and mentioned the name of what I thought was some blog. My one buddy went nuts and said that it was the biggest newspaper of Salta and the province next to it, Jujuy. Even still, I didn’t know what was going on.

The next day, I was setting up my stuff when a bunch of guys with cameras showed up. They had professional equipment and asked me exactly what I was going to play and how.

Once I was ready they said, “we’re going to film three songs so pick your best”. I started playing and had people with lights and cameras all around me. Before I knew it, there were people coming to watch me play and thinking I was famous or something. It was crazy. The man who had interviewed me said the article was going to be published next Sunday.

The whole thing got me pretty excited. When Sunday came around, I woke up and checked to see if they’d put the article up.

Sure enough, it was on their website along with pictures and videos. Cool! Then, something strange happened. One of my friend’s relatives from Salta, sent him a picture of a newspaper with me on the front cover.

I couldn’t believe it. My friends and I went to buy the paper, and there I was on the cover. It was Easter Sunday and there was a picture of me right next to Pope Francis. My article took up a full page. It was surreal.

From that day on, things got even weirder. A bunch of people I didn’t know started following me on social media.

When I’d walk around the city or into stores, people would recognize me and come talk to me. I’d never experienced anything like it in my life.

I kept going to the same spot to play, now with one of my friends alongside me. We were doing super well and one day some people came up to us and asked if we wanted to be on TV! I was out of my mind. We scheduled a day and went for it.

The whole TV experience was like a dream to me. It wasn’t a huge channel, but they treated us like so much more than we were (or thought we were). The fact that we were in a TV studio felt so weird.

There was some famous guy and he invited us to go to a dinner party at a fancy hotel. People back home were sending messages and congratulating us. It felt like a movie that I never wanted to end. That’s when it all kicked in.

A lot of what happened also had to do with the fact that I was traveling. There was a certain sense of freedom and carefree attitude that brought out the best in me.

Leaving home and getting out of my comfort zone amplified my passion for life. I’m sure that meeting new people, visiting amazing places and just enjoying every second of the journey, rubbed off on my music.

Once I was out there, I started to become the best version of myself. Traveling gave me this perspective. I needed to leave everything behind to go out somewhere where no one knew me and show my true colors. I needed to see who I wanted to be, and traveling gave me that space.

After being on TV and on the cover of a newspaper, I knew. That thing I’d always felt for new experiences and finding my purpose in life gave me something special. Following my passion

led me to places I had never known. People felt it and saw my true motives. Of course I had some luck, but I knew I’d done something right. From the moment I quit my job and decided to follow my dreams, life just got better and better. Tons of new people and experiences had come into my life. I was happier.

The craziest part of it all was that our trip had just started. The day before we were on television, we’d already bought bus tickets to leave Salta (after month and a half). It was time to move on and our ride was leaving the next day.

My friend’s family told me that what had happened to me wasn’t normal. They said I should think twice about leaving. This was a very hard decision, and there wasn’t much time to think.

Deep down, I felt there were even bigger adventures and lessons to learn than to try to be famous. I wanted to be true to myself and continue with my decision to play music and travel.

My desire for new and unknown experiences had kicked in once again. I was ready for another adventure. One thing’s for sure, the whole experience changed the way I lived the rest of my trip, music and life. It gave me a core confidence that I keep to this day, and no one can ever take that away from me.

Written by Tomas

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