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Busking In Lansing, To Rave Reviews

Alexis Dawdy plays her violin on the streets of Lansing, Mich.
Scott Pohl
Alexis Dawdy plays her violin on the streets of Lansing, Mich.

All summer long, Weekend Editionhas been sampling the sounds of America's street musicians. The latest to catch our ear is Alexis Dawdy, a young violinist who returned to her hometown of Lansing, Mich., to study at Michigan State University — and do a little busking on the side.

"I'm actually not a music major. This is really a hobby that accidentally became a profession," Dawdy says. "I'm studying linguistics, and I'm 17 credits out from graduation. My goal is to do it debt-free, and this helps a lot. This pays for books and this pays for food."

Dawdy says she's encountered nothing but hospitality from her neighbors in Lansing.

"I have people that come by every day — there's one gentleman in particular," she says. "If my life was a story, he would be my guardian angel. He's brought me things like books, coins from different countries, maple syrup that he made himself — and every day he tips me very generously, between $8 and $30."

It's not just individuals. Dawdy says Lansing's businesses have supported her just as much.

"I honestly think that the business district of downtown Lansing is just the perfect environment for what I do," she says. "Weston's Kewpee is actually an incredibly old restaurant, and many people consider it a staple of what Lansing is. ... Every day, a girl from Kewpee's brings me out a Coke to help keep me cool. And every day, Mr. Weston comes out and tips me a dollar, which is pretty great — to know that they like me here so much that they actually help take care of me."

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