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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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A Lone Trumpeter Serenades The National Mall

Jun 29, 2012
Originally published on August 24, 2012 4:23 pm

This summer, Weekend Edition Saturday is listening to the sounds of music al fresco. Today, we present an audio postcard of a trumpeter we recently heard blowing "The Star-Spangled Banner" just down the street from NPR.

It was a steamy afternoon when we found John Thornton on his corner just outside of the National Archives, seated on a plastic bucket. A few beads of sweat could be seen just under his Washington Nationals cap. Buses passed by, a few tourists dropped him some change, and the melodies drifted, from "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" to the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to, appropriately, "Summertime."

"I played in front of the Empire State once. It was fun. I like a crowd," Thornton says. "Some people play chess — you know, checkers and chess. It's a hobby, and they get real good at it. Same thing with an instrument: You just keep playin' it. You keep doin' it, man, you get good."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF TRUMPET MUSIC)

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

We're listening to the sounds of music al fresco this summer on WEEKEND EDITION and as the July 4th holiday approaches, we present a trumpeter whose been playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" just down the street from NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRUMPET MUSIC, "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER")

JOHN THORNTON: My name's John Thornton.

SIMON: It was a hot afternoon. John Thornton was just outside of the National Archives, seated on a plastic bucket, sweating under a Washington Nationals cap. Big buses rolled by, a few tourists dropped a little change in a bucket as John Thorton's trumpet blew melodies from the steamy sidewalks into the sky. Like this song of summer.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRUMPET MUSIC, "SUMMERTIME")

THORNTON: I played in front of the Empire State once. It was fun. You know, I like a crowd.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRUMPET MUSIC, "TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME")

THORNTON: It's like some people play chess, you know, checkers and chess. You know, it's a hobby, and they get real good at it. Same thing with an instrument, you just keep playing it. You keep doing it, man, you get good.

SIMON: John Thornton, busking for tourists and passersby on the corner of Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRUMPET MUSIC)

SIMON: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.