You've probably seen him. From noon to 2 a.m. most days, Alex Adsitt stands outside the downtown Ashland Starbucks in the afternoon and O'Ryan's Irish Pub in the evening, playing '40s and '50s Irish-pub songs on his acoustic guitar, harmonica and diatonic button accordion.
The 22-year-old street performer says he brings home between $15 and $25 a day in tips. Of course, that doesn't pay the bills, so he also works at Renaissance Rose and as a bartender and house musician at Paddy Brannan's Irish Pub. He plays from 6 to 8 p.m. every Sunday at Paddy Brannan's, 23 S. Second St., Ashland.
Adsitt, who goes by The Nevada Kid, hails from the small gold-mining town of Winnemucca, Nev., a city rife with casinos and brothels, he says.
Who: The Nevada Kid
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Sundays
Where: Paddy Brannan's Irish Pub, 23 S. Second St., Ashland
In August 2011, Adsitt moved to Southern Oregon to attend Rogue Community College. When he realized he wasn't going to be able to afford tuition and rent, he put college on hold and started busking for pocket change.
"I prefer playing on the street because if people really like my music, whether they tip me or not, they'll stop and listen for like 20 minutes, and that's more satisfying than playing a club where you're not sure if they enjoy your music or not, or if they are just clapping for the sake of clapping," he says.
Adsitt's catalog is composed entirely of songs by The Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners, The Wolfe Tones and Frank Sinatra.
The first album he ever bought was by Frank Sinatra. And, as for the other three bands, well, "they're the most popular CDs at Walmart for Irish music."
"I push my vocals to be the Frank Sinatra of old, Irish music," Adsitt says.
When he was about 10 years old, Adsitt visited his grandmother in Montana. She told him all about his Irish heritage and incited in him a love of all things Irish. He's played Irish music exclusively since he taught himself to play guitar at age 17.
Adsitt has written two original songs but composed hundreds of others on the spot. He listens to people as they stroll by him, picks up on interesting cues in their conversations and goes with it.
"If I'm eavesdropping and trying to think of what to sing next, and I hear someone say something like 'I shot my dog last night,' that's the kind of thing I can make up a song about," he jokes.
This December, Adsitt and his friend, Mo Long, who plays banjo and ukulele, have plans to hitchhike to San Diego with their instruments and, after that, to New Orleans and then Nashville, Tenn.
"There's a distinct difference between being homeless and begging and being a traveling musician," he says. "And that difference is working for your money and not expecting it."
Adsitt's shows at Paddy Brannan's are free, as are his street shows, but tips always are appreciated. Look for The Nevada Kid on Facebook.