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Vanishing Occupations.Street entertainers

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Rick Fielding 12 Jun 01 - 11:10 AM
Jim Krause 12 Jun 01 - 12:25 PM
RichM 12 Jun 01 - 12:31 PM
Stevangelist 12 Jun 01 - 12:40 PM
BobP 12 Jun 01 - 12:51 PM
Frogmore 12 Jun 01 - 01:00 PM
Jim Krause 12 Jun 01 - 01:25 PM
GUEST,Russ 12 Jun 01 - 01:36 PM
Midchuck 12 Jun 01 - 01:46 PM
BobP 12 Jun 01 - 02:27 PM
BobP 12 Jun 01 - 02:38 PM
M.Ted 12 Jun 01 - 03:47 PM
Rick Fielding 12 Jun 01 - 05:33 PM
Rick Fielding 12 Jun 01 - 05:36 PM
Marion 12 Jun 01 - 07:08 PM
Don Firth 12 Jun 01 - 08:41 PM
Peter T. 12 Jun 01 - 08:42 PM
InOBU 12 Jun 01 - 08:48 PM
Jeep man 12 Jun 01 - 09:42 PM
hesperis 12 Jun 01 - 09:59 PM
GUEST 12 Jun 01 - 10:23 PM
Jeep man 12 Jun 01 - 10:34 PM
ddw 12 Jun 01 - 10:38 PM
ddw 12 Jun 01 - 10:45 PM
Rick Fielding 12 Jun 01 - 11:04 PM
sophocleese 12 Jun 01 - 11:07 PM
Rick Fielding 12 Jun 01 - 11:34 PM
InOBU 13 Jun 01 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,Mark Cohen (working at the hospital at 1:30A 13 Jun 01 - 07:36 AM
Brían 13 Jun 01 - 08:13 AM
hesperis 13 Jun 01 - 08:51 AM
pavane 14 Jun 01 - 03:17 AM
alanabit 15 Jun 01 - 02:58 AM
little john cameron 15 Jun 01 - 02:51 PM
mousethief 15 Jun 01 - 02:57 PM
little john cameron 15 Jun 01 - 03:14 PM
little john cameron 15 Jun 01 - 03:15 PM
Rick Fielding 15 Jun 01 - 09:50 PM
alanabit 16 Jun 01 - 06:33 AM
InOBU 16 Jun 01 - 06:58 AM
alanabit 16 Jun 01 - 01:18 PM
Marion 28 Jun 01 - 12:58 AM
Rick Fielding 28 Jun 01 - 12:07 PM
Jim Krause 28 Jun 01 - 02:20 PM
ollaimh 28 Jun 01 - 08:28 PM
hesperis 28 Jun 01 - 09:03 PM
ddw 28 Jun 01 - 10:30 PM
Jim Krause 29 Jun 01 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,willie-o 30 Jun 01 - 01:18 AM
Marion 02 Jul 01 - 11:51 PM
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Subject: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 11:10 AM

I know this has been discussed before in threads on "busking", but a combination of anecdotal info, a couple of Mudcat posts, and the experience of several of my friends and one student, has made me extremely ticked off.

It would appear that the "soots'nties' simply can't live with the idea of independant performers (who are good enough) earning their livings without becoming card-carrying establishment robots.

Here in Toronto, street performers must audition (for verrry mainstream musicians) in order to purchase a license allowing them to play in selected subways. Without proper accreditation they're hassled constantly on the street by the cops.

Busker "Festivals" (Corporate sponsored of course) are organized which imply to the public that these wacky jugglers, comics, and fiddlers, just want to be "one big goofy starving entertainment family"...happy to follow the rules set down by the Mayors, Councils and Police Chiefs.

They don't of course. Successful street performers have been independant business people for hundreds of years. They need huge smarts, talent, and serious people skills...and generally they've chosen to MAKE their own rules, rather than falling in line. THAT'S what I think angers the rule makers more than anything else.

Dammit, a skilled old-time music performer is ILLEGAL, and some promoter can make millions on a "street Festival" because the Soots'nties' palms are greased!

Yah, I know most of the time I try to laugh at sheer stupidity and greed, and often find myself saying "it's so bad it's funny", but obviously, not right now.

Vent ended.

"PEARLY KINGS and QUEENS"? Anyone got any info on how long they've been around, what they did in the old days, and are they still allowed to perform on the streets?

Rick

P.S. I know I'm sounding like Larry (INOBU) but sometimes Toronto can piss ya off as much as New York!


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Jim Krause
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 12:25 PM

Yeah, Rick, and I don't think that life in general is much better south of the 49th parallel. We have the exact opposite problem: most folks look at you like you're a homeless and and panhandler and not a serious businessman and performer. Ah free Americay, yowsa!
Jim


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: RichM
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 12:31 PM

Today's western societies admire, respect and PAY "manager" more than performers---performers being the human beings who actually do the work: musicians, craftsmen/women and all the other working people.

Managers and executives are rewarded for being manipulative and greedy.

Hats off to all small business people, be they street musicians or otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Stevangelist
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 12:40 PM

I gained most of my practical playing experience on the streetcorners and sidewalks of various cities. Illegal... my ass. They ought to realize that a person playing on the street is there to play, not earn a living... the case is out because people like to reward in that way... I wouldn't give a crap if they paid me or not. If I cared that I was to be compensated, then why would I brave the heat and cold and rain and snow and all the other BS just to make people smile? Oh, well... chalk it up to corporate a-holes once again... I'm glad I'm a member of the Great Historical Bum Society.

May The Road Rise To Meet You,

Stevangelist


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: BobP
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 12:51 PM

I love street performers.

I love the atmosphere at sunset pier, Key West (it has another name, but that's what folks I know call it) as dozens of these people, some good - some getting better, perform next to an inverted hat.

I know someday they'll be banned everywhere.

I also know they're criminally negligent on their taxes.

I also know if I'm on the jury, they can relax.

I applaud the effort, regardless of skill.

David Crosby's tune about passing a street guy while on his way to a $50K gig (Playin Real Good For Free) still gets to me, bigtime.

Didn't we let Jack Benny play his stupid violin in our living rooms?

Could anyone submit via this thread whatever they may know of people now famously talented who once "Did It In-The-Road, without passing an audition, I mean besides McCartney.

I believe that both Ralph McTell and Bryan Bowers (the autoharp guy) would be on that list.

I could be wrong about both, memory isn't what it was.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Frogmore
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 01:00 PM

For news on the never-ending street artist fiasco in St. Augustine, go to: www.saintgeorgestreet.com The ACLU is enthusiastically involved and we will have court decisions soon. Again...and again and.... It's hard to believe all the absurdities that have taken place over the years.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Jim Krause
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 01:25 PM

saintgeorgestreet.com There, I fixed the blue clicky
Jim
PS I'm interested in the whole street performing topic because right now, because I'm doing it myself at the local Farmers' Market.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 01:36 PM

Great post. Great rhetoric, Rick.

First a non-rhetorical question. Was there a time when buskers were not required to have licenses? Does the current situation represent deterioration from better days when buskers roamed wild and free on the streets of Toronto? If it is a new or relatively new thing, why did it come to be? Even "soots'nties" sometimes do things for what they feel are good reasons other than a fear of those who are NOT "card-carrying establishment robots".

The reason I ask is that if you know why something happened, there's a better chance of making it unhappen. Another reason I ask is because the only city I have had personal experience with that is even remotely what I would call "busker friendly" is New Orleans. Toronto's discouragement of busking through rules seems kind of normal to me. I guess I am mildly surprised that they allow it at all. Also it is my impression that North American has never been particularly busker friendly, at least in my lifetime.

As a solid, respected, well-known, taxpaying resident of Toronto you'd be the perfect leader/spokesperson for a freedom-to-busk movement. I'm not sure if you are old enough to remember the political turmoil of the 60s and early 70s, but there's an arsenal of tools and methods for effecting social change. Get an aging radical to reminisce. I am sure you have friends who understand in detail how the municipal government works and can give you advice on whom to see, what to say, and what to do.

Power to the People!!!


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Midchuck
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 01:46 PM

Rick, you're setting yourself up for a loss by distinguishing between "soot'n'ties" and everybody else. In the U. S., each of us has one vote, whether we wear jeans or a suit (well, actually, because of the way the Electoral College is set up, those of us in Vermont or Wyoming effectively have more voting power apiece, in the Presidential election, than people in the big states, but I'm not complaining).

The "soot'n'ties" have the power because the average person votes for the person he sees on television the most. TV time costs money. So the guy with the most money wins.

But it's by the people's choice that it works that way.

If you want to change it, start demanding that each candidate state his position on the issues, without equivocating. Then vote for the one whose positions you approve of the most. Whether he has the most, and most flashy, TV ads or not.

If you can't stand any of them, start your own political party and run for office. (I should have done just that in the last US Presidential election, but there was a Libertarian candidate, thank Gawd.)

Sermon mode off.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: BobP
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 02:27 PM

We should campaign for an international holiday, wherein every closet Dylan on the planet takes his axe down to the corner of whatever constitutes Broadway and Main in their respective home towns, to create the world's biggest song circle.

Money collected could, after making sure each performer got enough to eat, be delivered into a fund that would allow an expansion of that class action to include anyone who ever sought to suppress non-electrified musical expression.

Punitive awards collected from that could form a fund to lobby for legislation to withold federal funding from U.S. cities and federal aid to foreign cities that demonstrated an unwillingness to protect people and their officially recognized art form.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: BobP
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 02:38 PM

Every oppressive law ever passed had at its base someone's notion of "for your own good" attached to it.

People have actually starved and froze to death in tiny hovels after being prevented from working self-employed at jobs they supposed they could do from their own kitchen tables and sewing machines because a bureaucrat supposed they were helping by shutting them down "for their own good".

One thing for sure; it's for somebodies own good.

It happens every day in every city in every land.

You can call it what you want, I call it facism.

It just gets noticed a bit when it happens in the street.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 03:47 PM

Entertainments of all sorts get outlawed from time to time-from the time of the Revolution to about 1830, theater was illegal in Philadelphia, the result being that, beginning at the city limits on old Broad Street, there was an avenue of bear-baiters, and hoop twirlers, jugglers, and every other sort of street performer(the old Quakers didn't care for entertainments)--when theaters were finally allowed, the street performers lost their audiences and the trade died out(probably were many who moved inside to the stage)--


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 05:33 PM

"Soots'nties" Ha, Ha! Yah folks when I'm on a rant can I ever invent words.....and Boy, I'll bet the bigwigs are runnin' for cover now!

Hi guest Russ. Oh yes... I'm old enough to remember the political skirmishes of the 60s and 70s, but I'm afraid there are many far more qualified than me to actually take a stand on a "busking issue". I tend to have VERY LITTLE PATIENCE when it comes to dealing with authority figures, and the person who might actually get something done, is one who can talk to the city Fathers in their own language. Some folks embrace "the system". Some fight it all their lives, and others (like me, I guess) try to create their "own" system (which welcomes anyone in who can enjoy it) and do their damndest to be as independant as possible without starving. I compromise...but grudgingly, ha ha!

Thanks for the feedback folks. Any info on "pearly Kings"?

Rick


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 05:36 PM

Jeesus H.! Sorry for the spelling glitch in "occupation".

Ripk


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Marion
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 07:08 PM

BobP, I've heard that Tracy Chapman used to busk.

Russ, it isn't entirely true that "They ought to realize that a person playing on the street is there to play, not earn a living..."; at the moment I'm busking for a living, though I'm looking for a real job and will busk less if I find one. And I doubt I'm the only one. I'm a really mediocre fiddler, but I make at least minimum wage busking; there are some much better acts that I've seen around, and surely they could be making a pretty good salary.

In Ottawa, we don't need permits to busk (although someone told me that they're needed for one pedestrian street - I'm still trying to find that out). It seems to me that I've heard that in recent years Toronto has cracked down on panhandlers and squeegee kids too, right? This must be part of the same trend.

Is it only in the subway stations that permits are required? And is the objection to unregulated busking a question of noise pollution or of illegal business? That is, could you get into trouble playing an non-amplified instrument in public if you didn't have your case out for tips? Or, would you get into trouble if you were soliciting tips but not making noise (mime or sidewalk artist)?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 08:41 PM

It's usually assumed that the first troubadours took to the road in the 12th century, but it was actually a couple hundred years before that. I can see very little difference between minstrels and troubadours and modern day buskers. If the wandering minstrel couldn't wangle an invitation to the local castle or manor house, he could always pick up a few coppers and perhaps a meal by singing in the village square. It seems to me that the antiquity of the trade should be taken into account when making laws about street musicians. There ought to be a law protecting wandering minstrels from people who make laws.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Peter T.
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 08:42 PM

People hate buskers because they wreck the picture of a tidy sidewalk along which people are moving on prosperous streets. It is their messiness they dislike. They want a neat world, and the busker is an easy target. In our province, the supposedly free-market government was outraged at kids at corners washing car windows. There is nothing they hate more than real markets. The kind of people who speak nicely of their black waiter in the country club dining room.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: InOBU
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 08:48 PM

Take back the streets
Larry
PS I do pay taxes...


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Jeep man
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 09:42 PM

Rick, I remember the blind guitar players and singers who used to be prominent where I grew up near Asheville, N.C

This was during and shortly after the depression and many people such as the blind had no way to support themselves. The played and sang on the streets and some sold pencils or apples.

David Holt told me that Doc Watson did this when he was young. I often wonder if Doc was one of the pickers I saw on Patton Ave. or Lexington Ave. in Asheville?

People call them the "Good Old Days", and they did have some things I would like to preserve. Blind men playing on streets is not one of them.

Later, Jeep


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: hesperis
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 09:59 PM

I heard that Orillia's Downtown Management Board forbids busking without an audition. I know a guy who used to go to my high school, who regularly sat down near a parking lot downtown, and he never had any problems. He always asked the businesses for permission to play, and it was always granted. He has since graduated with a Music Degree from York, and is making waves on the jazz scene.

I really don't see why beaurocrats have a problem with busking (some of them, anyway,) - as a consumer, I like to hear people playing when I'm walking down the street. It is a pleasant summer experience. Kids who are learning often have a more appreciative audience than more seasoned performers, too, and it's a good way for them to get spending money, or money to go to camps and stuff.

But this is the same town where city council strangled ice cream trucks and hot dog vendors by making the taxes prohibitively high, all so that a relative of the (then) Mayor could have a monopoly on the food at our biggest local park.

Banning busking isn't about the music, or about the "quality" of the music, it's about control.

If things are too controlled, where's the life in it?

Where are the opportunities for young people to learn to have fun performing in public?

Anyway, since I just put a down payment on a flute, I'll probably need to take my panflute downtown to get enough money for the flute... we will see what happens a couple of weeks from now, when I have some stuff to play.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 10:23 PM

Jeepman,

I remember the blind singers on Patton Ave. and on Lexington when the farmers' market was down there (late '40s, '50s).

I knew Doc Watson back then — my brother-in-law was a mandolin player who used to take me around on Saturdays when he'd go "porch pickin'" — and, as far as I know, he wasn't one of them. Of course Doc was a grown man when I was a little shaver, so I don't claim to know everything he did as he was growing up, but I've never heard of him doing any street singing.

Do you remember the legless pencil lady who used to sit outside the S & W Cafeteria on Patton?

David


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Jeep man
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 10:34 PM

Yes I do David I remember the little man(Dwarf or Midget) who sold paper in front of the SW. He later had the newstand cubbyhole next the the Imperial Theator. I understand he put his children thre college with that little business. Jeep


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: ddw
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 10:38 PM

Ratz! That last post was mine. Didn't realize my cookie had crumbled.

Rick — I think some of the comments about soots'nties wanting all the goodies and the public liking their sidewalks tidy are spot on, but I just wonder — particularly in connection with the subway performers — if there isn't another reason for the licensing thing.

A few years ago — right after the casino opened — in Windsor there was an explosion of hot dog vendors in the downtown area. Of course each one wanted the corner where there was the most pedestrian traffic, and they started squabbling among themselves over turf. It got to the point that the police actually caught one of them carrying a gun to protect his corner. And, of course, a lot of mom'n'pop restaurants started making noise — legitimately, I think. They had little storefront places, paid business taxes, etc. and the vendors were taking their trade and paying nothing. A combination of the two reasons convinced city council the only way to control things was to sell licences — which took care of both problems. The licences aren't cheap (it's a tax) and the locations are assigned with the licences.

I realize somebody making music isn't exactly the same thing, but I think at least some of the reasoning might apply.

And BTW, I'm seriously considering setting up and playing a little myself this summer. We do have street singers on Ouellette Ave. and nobody seems to hassle them.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: ddw
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 10:45 PM

Yeah, Jeep — I remember that little guy too. I don't know if I still have it, but I used to have the Asheville Citizen story that ran when the pencil woman died.

Somebody missed her on the street for a few days and went to check on her, found her dead. When they started cleaning out her apartment they found a huge amount of money stuffed in chairs, pillows, etc. Don't remember for sure, but it seems to me it was something like $100,000 — which in the 1950s was a BIG chunk of change.

david


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 11:04 PM

Take to those streets David! Oddly I've done very little busking....and I SHOULD have. Started playing bars when I was about twenty, and I really wish I'd taken the "open air" route. Put up with far too many Club owners and managers telling me to "play rock and roll, Reecky" I DID do a fair amount of busking in Europe however and loved it. Got some currency, made some friends....and decided that if it wasn't for the plumbing, heating and telephone systems, I'd have taken up residence. I've made up for it a bit over the last few years by teaching a few folks how to busk. Best thing I ever learned...and passed on? DON'T wear sunglasses, smile, and look 'em in the eye. Oh, also, dress well, or even wear some sort of "get-up". It's worth money in the bank.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: sophocleese
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 11:07 PM

Geez, hesp, get it right. The Orillia Downtown Management Board doesn't "forbid busking without an audition" it allows it WITH an audition. I got a license last year and then had Strep Throat. After school had finished I then had to get babysitters for the kids. I ended up not doing it often. I'm too shy to be a good busker but I was hoping to overcome it, oh well.

One of our local buskers got a license this year so he can play on the main street. I think it's silly but you don't have to pay for it and the guy that auditioned me wasn't a musician so I guess he was looking for someone moderately, or maybe even barely, presentable. Last year they weren't just giving out licenses but trying to get more buskers downtown. They thought that it would help increase traffic through the area, they are fighting a mall on the other side of the highway as well as the new Walmart and Home Depot.

Once you start trying to find places to busk though you really notice how many stores are already piping music into the street. I find it difficult to play one tune while another one is playing in the background not too loud but loud enough for me to hear.

But if you want to know what busking in Orillia is like you can talk to John. He's the guy doing tunes on a red guitar in front of the dollar store.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 12 Jun 01 - 11:34 PM

Hi Sophocleese, your fair name came up last night at my gig at Hugh's Room. Dave Lang, the Mariposa sound guy says "hi".

If anyone was going to share some "Pearly King" information here, go to the other thread I started specifically on it. Limeyclick

It's a "Brit thing" I guess, and something I'm fascinated with. Thanks.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: InOBU
Date: 13 Jun 01 - 06:46 AM

Hi Rick,
You look em in the eye, performance notes are right on the money. I was very surprised, years ago, when I went from busking on the war pipes to the Uilleann pipes, and there was a drop off of money. I got to doing some serrious thinking about how people were reacting to me. I was useing a low stool (for the unfamilier, you have to sit down to play the Uilleann pipes). Folks were looking at the crouching figure, and it reinforced their "Bum" notion of the busker, no matter how good the playing was. I noticed folks would kind of become aware of the music after trying to ignore me. So, I began to carry a bar stool, a real bitch to carry, but it brought me up to eye level. The attitude and money changed at once. Funny. Presentation is everything.
Larry


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: GUEST,Mark Cohen (working at the hospital at 1:30A
Date: 13 Jun 01 - 07:36 AM

Seemed to me when I lived in Seattle in the late 80s it was a pretty friendly place for street musicians.

Last weekend I was in Boulder, Colorado visiting my 6-year-old daughter and we went to the Boulder Jewish Festival. Saw lots of street performers on the Pearl St. pedestrian mall. There was an excellent magician at the festival who told the crowd, "I'm getting paid by the festival for being here today, but not too long ago I was out there on the street where those guys are. So if you feel like giving me some money for this performance, go on over and give it to them." Now that's class.

And speaking of former buskers who made good, the well known magician duo Penn & Teller started out on the street. In Philadelphia in the 70s they were 2/3 of the Asparagus Valley Cultural Society, whom I saw a couple of times in Washington Square (yes, there is a Washington Square in Philadelphia, near Independence Hall). The other third of the group was a musician. Does that say something....?

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Brían
Date: 13 Jun 01 - 08:13 AM

I have a friend I met in Portland, Maine named Slaid Cleaves who is reasonably sucessful now who would be proud to tell you that he learned his trade on the corner of Exchange and Fore Streets in Portland's Old Port District. He did some great yodeling, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, popular tunes as well as his own material. The local shop keepers are notorious for trying to rid the streets of musicians or anyone who they thought was blocking the sidewalks, although many people come to Exchange Street for the entertainment.
I know the Boulder Mall has been famous for its buskers. That is a touching story about the magician, though.
Brían


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: hesperis
Date: 13 Jun 01 - 08:51 AM

Ah! Thanks for clearing that up, Soph. In that case, I'll go audition. I can be quite presentable when I want to be. *g*


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: pavane
Date: 14 Jun 01 - 03:17 AM

Here in South Wales, street performers are plentiful, some competent, some bloody awful. One girl in Neath has been playing the same wrong notes to the Ash Grove on her penny-whistle for at least 10 years. No-one has told her how to get the accidental needed.

Also, no-one seems to have picked up on 'Pearly Kings & Queens'. These were East-end (of London) costermongers (Street fruit sellers, from 'Costard Apple', a once popular fruit unrelated to real apples). They dressed for special occasions in suits covered in mother-of-pearl buttons. I believe they still exist, but it is very difficult to obtain the proper buttons now, as they are all plastic.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: alanabit
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 02:58 AM

Refresh to top of thread.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: little john cameron
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 02:51 PM

Here ye go Rick,aw ye ever wanted tae know aboot Pearly kings.BTW Bob O'Donovan used tae be at the busking,When ah wis living in Scotland the Buskers wid be entertainin the queue at the "Picturs" ljc
http://www.pearlies.co.uk/


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: mousethief
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 02:57 PM

Come to Seattle, Rick!

Alex


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: little john cameron
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 03:14 PM

Jings guys,while ah wis in that site ah came across this.

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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: little john cameron
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 03:15 PM

http://www.elephant-man.co.uk/frame.htm


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 09:50 PM

More good info. Thanks.

There was an American Pop Singer who billed himself as "the old street singer" (although i doubt he was) Anybody remember his name. My Mom loved him.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: alanabit
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 06:33 AM

Thanks for your original post Rick, because I happen to think that buskers, however good or bad, are the closest link we have to the oral tradition. I have never made any bones about the fact that I do it for money. I try to entertain people well, look as good as age and nature permit and behave like the sort of person you would want to drink a coffee with. Good work is worth good money wherever you work and I have always had that attitude to busking. There are people who are good and bad at every profession - and Lord knows - there are some rotten buskers too! However, I have always had time for buskers who genuinely care about what they do and want to improve. Naturally, In Obu's comments strike a chord with me, as do yours Rick. That's good attitude.Above all we need to project the positive side of what we do. A good opportunity for Europe based people to experience that is at the "Pflaster Spektakel" in Linz, Austria,which takes place on the third weekend of July every year. It is hard to disagree with the sentiments which inspired Jeep Man's post, but I have to say that I have not just seen blind old men playing on the street. I knew Kieren Goss, the platinum selling Irish folkie, in his busking days here in Cologne. I also ran into Don Partridge, Phil Free, and Pete Morton. I last saw Klaus der Geiger playing last Friday. He is (in my view) one of the world's greatest living folk musicians in terms of musical accomplishment. If he had worked in English, his stature would probably have approached that of Woody Guthrie. His lifestyle is probaly the closest in spirit. Russ has made a fair point - namely that busking never really was legal. We always seem to be tolerated rather than encouraged. Hesperis talks about the good things which buskers bring to walking areas. Perhaps if we bring more good things there we will become more universally welcome. Alan.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: InOBU
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 06:58 AM

Platnum selling buskers! OH Yes, I know I have shared the story, and will again, about hearing the Furry Brothers at a festival in Tralee, back in the seventies, when you could not get within four blocks of the stage, then, the next morning, walking up some street with me pipes, near to the same spot in Tralee, and there are the Furry's AND Davie Arthur, BUSKING! And Eddie says, "Hey Larry, will ya have a tune or two with us? " THOSE where the effin DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!! This bloody world we now "live" in...
Larry


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: alanabit
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 01:18 PM

More of those please InOBU! I should have mentioned Glyn Nicholas, who used to busk Europe with his mate Bryan Flynn. He went on to become one of Australia's most famous comedians...


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Marion
Date: 28 Jun 01 - 12:58 AM

I spent last weekend busking in Ottawa's Byward Market, and have a few comments to add:

1. Re: presenting yourself in a way to get tips: I have a couple of gimmicks in order to attract attention - a ribbon of Cape Breton tartan hanging from my fiddlehead, and a sign saying thank you in Irish and Scots Gaelic. It's not uncommon for me to see people focussing on or pointing out one of these, and occasionally people talk to me about them; I have no doubt that they've earned me some money.

2. I saw another busker, sort of an Elvis impersonator, singing with a a microphone and a recorded (and also amplified) accompaniment. He was VERY loud; you could hear him for two blocks either way up busy Rideau St., and he was doing his thing where 20 different buses have stops - huge captive audience, and no possibility for anyone else to busk anywhere near. I really thought this was inappropriate. Maybe playing acoustically should be unregulated, but you should need a licence to plug in? Of course, I've also seen people who used amplification and recorded accompaniments with manners and skill...

3. I saw a young guy, somewhat scruffy in appearance, holding a cardboard sign: "KICK A PUNK - $1".

Marion (shocked): Do people actually take you up on that?

Guy: Oh yeah. I've had broken ribs twice, and a concussion, in the last three months. But it's a living... I'm not a bum...

Marion: Wouldn't it be easier to play an instrument or learn to juggle or fold balloons or something?

Guy: Oh, I COULD play an instrument, I've tried that, but you need a permit I've had cops come around with big sticks.

Marion: You don't need a permit here. I've had cops walk by me.

Guy: That's because you're a girl.

I really hope this guy was bullshitting me...

Marion


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 28 Jun 01 - 12:07 PM

Refresh. I'm enjoying this.

Good tips Marion.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Jim Krause
Date: 28 Jun 01 - 02:20 PM

Rick, You wrote: "Best thing I ever learned...and passed on? DON'T wear sunglasses, smile, and look 'em in the eye. Oh, also, dress well, or even wear some sort of "get-up". It's worth money in the bank."


I guess you mean DO smile, and DO look 'em in the eye. I can certainly see dressing well. But boy howdy, it sure is hot and sweaty work fiddling at Farmer's Market. I usually wear a ball cap, a nice clean T-shirt, jeans that are failry new, and a pair of Birkenstocks. The ball cap serves as a sewat sop. Generally I hate ball caps, but they do have their practical uses. Believe it or not, I'm a little too bashful to wear some sort of "get-up." But on the other hand, I don't have a lot of competition at Farmer's Market on Tuesdays & Thursdays. So civvies are OK, I guess. Oh, and I'd add one more thing: SMILE. It may be hard, hot, & sweaty work, but at least you should look like yer havin' fun.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: ollaimh
Date: 28 Jun 01 - 08:28 PM

as a working often toronto busker i can't resist this one.

yeah it's sort of unfair they make us audition for subway licences, but as someone who has been inside the tent pissing out and out side the tent pissing in, i can say it's not all bad.

the strong arm tactics that regularly crop up on the bald street are eliminated and people in toronto mostly know we've passed auditions so they give a little more respect--deserved or not--that's an other issue.

the wierd thing is the main trouble for a subway busker comes from a few crazy buskers and the transit ticket takers, a few of whom have been on a vendetta for years to shut us down at every station they work at. we've lost three good downtown stations in the last four years, and one good east end one. this was due to union pressure. as a lefty i have real problem with a union putting people out of work but then unions aren't ideological any more.

in vancouver the union guys at sea bus put in regulation a fter regulation untill they chased out the full time pros, like me, and its part timers now or people topping up the welfare cheque. i have nothing against welfare but as a totally self supporting busker for years it a differnt deal than getting a welfare cheque. the poeple who busk full time are very differnt too. you do have get the strangers to like you, rather than lay on the attitude.

i've never been bugged by the cops out in the street but i only spend a few hours a week busking outside the subway, and i play harp which even cops think is cutesie. cutsie is gooc for busking by the way, grunge and capital a anarchism are not.

busker festivals are also a sore point as most of the "buskers" there only play buskers festivals. i wish they'd hire the people who really do the job.

and this summer has been awfull, i'm really getting broke as i have bought a new harp while only making ten buck a hour often. most years have benn much better, i may hit the road for survival soon.

the truth is that people who wok at straight rule book dominated occupations do often have an irrational hate of buskers because we are free of that shit. if the same people had any idea of the shit we have to deal with instead they'd cringe but they don't realize what it takes. i perfer living with the unpredicability of the "street" over a straight job, but then it's not like i really had a choice. bosses hate me! i've been the most productive worker at several jobs by any standard of measurement and the bosses always hated me, many buskers are this type of person and you get more and nmore ideosyncratic the longer you do it.but i do eny the job benifits of others. every tooth ache is a major deal for me. for many years i couldn't even get medicare as the rules to get the card cut me out--believe it or not.

so don't let them crush us out of existance! we need peple to lobby for us . not the least of which reason is that a significant number of buskers are living illegally whereever they are and so they have no legal recourse agaist the burreaucrats or cops. even me in the us, which has many good busking cities.

so some one out there form the buskers benevolent association--i may need a home when i'm seventy five!

we are often dumped on by certain "folkies" too. it doesn't make sense but then what does in this wierd world, but many amateur folkies think making money soils the tradition. i think we are the tradition. many buskers are from the ethnic backgrounds that the traditions come from. whether south american natives, nova scotian ballad and reel players or gypsie fiddlers fron hungary--all of whom i've regularly shared spots with.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: hesperis
Date: 28 Jun 01 - 09:03 PM

Yeah, cute is good. I took my brass guys out busking for a downtown event a couple of years ago. (Back when I had access to a Horn. *sigh*)

Four of us in orchestra uniform, with a small sign saying "help us go to a workshop with the Canadian Brass!" We were playing 50's and 60's music that I arranged. Another busker came up and asked us how much we made... it was $17 bucks or something for 6 hours of playing. (Two three-hour sets.) And it was more than he made. (Though he was kinda scruffy, and maybe $17 divided by the four of us wasn't more than he made.)

I also asked people directly for donations at other times, and we got scholarships to go. It was a fantastic experience! And the busking really helped. Because, for one, we got a lot tighter with our performing, really entertained people and started developing our style. We got good enough to be able to keep playing even when the stands blew down, too! For the other, we got some spending money when we went to Toronto for the workshop! WITH THE CANADIAN BRASS!!!

One orchestra member is really cute, she's 7 years old, missing teeth, frizzy irish red hair and freckles, she played flute at the farmer's market, and made $60 in an couple of hours! But that was a good day.


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: ddw
Date: 28 Jun 01 - 10:30 PM

I love places where there are street musicians, but I'm afraid not everybody shares that. A few years ago the Windsor Farmers' Market used to be in a huge, drafty old barn of a place near the downtown. The Yorkshire Tornado and I were there one Saturday morning and there were two young women — probably university music students — playing, one on harp, one on flute. They were quite good.

We walked to a stall near where they were and the woman running it had a very cheap, tinny-sounding radio playing as loudly as it would. We picked out some veggies and, as I started to pay for them with a $5 bill, I asked her why, when the live music was so close.

"I'm trying to run them off," she said.

I put the veggies back on the counter, plucked the bill out of her hand and walked over and dropped it in the musicians' bucket. Never did find out if she got the message.

david


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Jim Krause
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 03:53 PM

Oh yeah, David. I've been on that end of the stick for the last eight years. There's this good-for-nothing, coniving, low-down, scurrilous, under-handed, back-stabbing, sneaking, vendor who quite annonymously for the last eight years has been doing his/her level best to have me excluded from playing at Farmer's Market, claiming that he/she can't hear customers over my fiddling. This individual doesn't have the gumption to apporach me personally. Oh, no! He or she gets the Farmer's Market manager to be the shill. I think I have rather had enough of these lousy tactics, and ain't going to be pushed around anymore.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: GUEST,willie-o
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 01:18 AM

Worst of all, they have access to a ready supply of fruit or vegetables...

Good for you David!

That can be the hardest part of the whole gig, to have a good relationship with the market vendors. (One key is never impede their customer traffic flow.) Some of them are cool, some of them are jerks.

Marion, there have been a rather long string of changes in the busking regulations/bylaws in Ottawa. You needed a permit for a few years, then they gave up on it awhile back. So certain self=-appointed guardians of public aesthetics--or cops-- sometimes tell you you need a licence.

Lots of good practical advice here. I might add: people are shy. "Salt" your case--put some change in it when you start so they don't have to be the first. And it's a little dance how you position the case--close enough for security, but 2-3 feet from you usually so people can get to it without invading your personal space, and while walking past...and try to play an instrument that will make people want to ask questions about it.

Funny, I can't say I miss the old busking days that much. Got out of the habit. I miss the good days, though.

I did that audition for the TO subways once. Played my damn best too. I was not accepted. Me and Toronto just never have gotten on very well.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Vanishing Ocupations.Street entertainers
From: Marion
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 11:51 PM

David, I think I like you.

Hesperis, when you say you made $17 for 6 hours playing, I hope you meant averaged $17/hour! Even that is pretty lousy money for four people.

Willie-o, when I said that I hoped the kick-a-punk guy was bullshitting me, I meant about letting people kick him for money. Can you imagine?

Jim, you're right on about fiddling in the Farmer's Market being hard, hot and sweaty work! It takes an effort to keep smiling, especially when you're gripping the fiddle with your chin and the smile's a little forced anyway. The upside is that I get to show off my cool "fiddler's tan" to my friends - do you have one? (Fiddler's tan, I mean, not friend; sunburn on your right arm and right side of your throat, the left arm and left side of throat being shaded by the fiddle.)

All: I've started a relevant thread, Busking etiquette

Marion


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