One of the many perks of living in this beautiful city is the amount of events and festivals that happen on a regular basis. I've never lived in a place that seems to so purposefully focus on congregating residents and enjoying the land and the company.

With a reasonably small population, Boulder tends to bring out familiar faces when these events come around. I've written a bit in the past about some of the performers, musicians, and general "regulars" I see while I'm out and about in the city. Sometimes I hear street musicians I know from around a corner. Some of the performers have their spots in the city where they've dug in their heels over the years. When these festivals do pop up, I find the man pictured by following the sound of loud, live music. Find the music and there's a good chance you'll see him dancing or swaying or just standing and smiling in an almost spiritual way. He will most likely be the first person you spot in a crowd or audience – he is remarkably thin and confidently splits the difference between six and seven feet in height.

I have tried to approach him in the past, but reconsidered, not wanting to interrupt his dancing. This past weekend at the Boulder Creek Hometown Festival I caught him on a short break and asked to shoot a picture. This smile was the result of my question, along with a soft, "yes." Before I knew it he was back up on his feet and moving again (before I could even get his name). That said, I'm sure I'll have ample opportunity to put a name to the face. Just need to chase the vibrations.

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I'm a sucker for anything cheesy and creative, so I had to stop when I saw someone in floaties, an inner tube, and a "fishing pole" collecting donations. When I first walked by, he kindly and energetically reached his tip jar out to a group of girls and said, "Whoa, that's a good cast!"

Turns out his name is Adam and he's originally from Utah. Given the heavy downpour today, he chose appropriate attire. Thankfully the rain stopped long enough to shoot a picture.

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I suppose I've been gravitating towards photographing musicians lately. Some sing about love. Some sing about pain. Some sing just to sing. The individuals in this photograph were singing Christian hymns today and talking about their faith between songs.

Regardless of how I feel about the content of a particular song, I seem to generally be able to find a connection with the people creating the music. The passion of musicianship seems to rise above even controversial topics like religion. While I didn't get a chance to talk to these people (I think they're a family group), it was pretty easy to tell that they invest a lot of time and emotion into their beliefs and their music. And for that, I can find gratitude.

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When I introduced myself and asked his name, he told me he goes by "The High Plains Drifter." A friend of his came up and started talking to him shortly after I took the photo but another friend, Bayard, told me that he is a veteran and has quite a few interesting stories. I generally see him with his feathered cap near the Boulder Post Office, so I'm looking forward to talking to him more at a later date about his past.

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Days like today make me wish I had a more sizable income to share with amazingly talented artists like the ones in this photograph. This group is called the Coyote String Band, and they were playing at the Pearl Street Mall today. They sang and played their folky, soulful music with an intoxicating passion and I couldn't help but stay and listen for a while. I gave some money before I took the picture, but after a few minutes I decided I needed to buy a CD as well (which I never do). 

These guys made my day and served as today's reminder of how powerful music can be. Check them out on Facebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/coyotestringband

A dose of selfish honesty for everyone on this Friday: part of the reason I enjoy photographing homeless people so much is that I often feel like I’m helping individuals by providing a listening ear. It feels good to know that maybe, just perhaps, I helped brighten someone’s day. In a community where people have often been conditioned through various circumstances to feel insignificant, it's nice to be able to remind individuals that they are significant and that their stories matter.

Late yesterday, a cloudy, rainy evening in Boulder, I experienced something I hadn’t before while approaching strangers for portraits. The woman pictured below is a fixture here in downtown Boulder. She sings and hits a rubber-headed drum with loosely gripped drumsticks on one of the street corners of the Pearl Street Mall. She also appears to be extremely mentally impaired. First reactions to her loud, screechy, off-pitched singing and wild appearance are often laughter. I’ll admit that was my reaction as well. But it doesn’t take long to realize this isn’t a joke for her.

When I approached her, she smiled and allowed me with welcoming gestures to take a few photographs, but was unable to articulate any sort of response to my questions. Her only words involved – with a blank look in her eyes – repeatedly offering me some small apples that she had for sale. I'm not sure she knows her own name. To say that this encounter was disturbing would be an understatement.

Maybe it’s because it hits so close to home. Maybe it's the way people so predictably avoided walking near her and exchanged uncomfortable glances with others passing by. Or perhaps it’s because for the first time, I had to walk away without having any idea what I could do to help this woman. Regardless, I thought this was an experience worth sharing.

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