, Gloucester, MA

September 23, 2013

Editorial: Musician deserves a place on the Neck

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — The latest business flap over Rockport’s Bearskin Neck seems to have been largely resolved, with shopkeeper Sergio Espinoza now largely confining the playing of his Peruvian native siku — or pan flute — to the opposite ends of the Neck, around Dock Square and near the little parking area outside My Place By the Sea.

But the fact that Espinoza’s live performances of his native Andean music — and playing of recorded music from inside the shop — triggered six noised complaints and visits from town police and led other Neck shop owners to take their “concerns” to the town’s Board of Selectmen harkens right from the theater of the absurd.

And it cries out for town officials to either revisit some local permit issues, or grant Espinoza the ability to play his flutes outside his Inkas Wasi shop, as the selectmen could do under his already-granted outdoor performer’s license.

The truth is, many Bearskin Neck business owners resent anyone else doing anything to promote their business outside their own doors. That was the case when a one clothing shop — horrors! — once displayed some of its wares on a mannequin that stood on the store’s step. And it seems at least part of the issue with Espinoza’s music, which can he heard — horrors! — in and down the street.

OK, the music may grate on someone who has to listen to it hours and hours on end. But it’s not aimed at those who might park themselves out front and listen for an all-day concert; it’s designed to entertain and draw passersby who might become curious not only about Espinoza’s shop, but others as well. It’s a marketing step most should welcome, not resent.

Thankfully, that’s the case for some. To her credit, Kathy Milbury — co-owner of My Place by the Sea — said she considers the sounds of Espinoza’s flutes akin to “walking by an Italian restaurant and smelling garlic.”

Hopefully others will grow to feel the same — and let Espinoza draw visitors to his shop and theirs through his music and in peace.