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Street Musicians, Buskers?

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28 Jan 98 - 11:21 PM
Alice 29 Jan 98 - 01:57 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 29 Jan 98 - 08:04 PM
BK 29 Jan 98 - 08:25 PM
GaryD 30 Jan 98 - 09:39 AM
Alice 30 Jan 98 - 10:18 AM
Bob Landry 30 Jan 98 - 11:37 AM
Jon W. 30 Jan 98 - 12:52 PM
Bill D 30 Jan 98 - 02:59 PM
GaryD 31 Jan 98 - 11:22 PM
Charlie Baum 01 Feb 98 - 12:06 AM
Barry 01 Feb 98 - 12:39 AM
Ricky Rackin 01 Feb 98 - 01:57 AM
hanrahan 01 Feb 98 - 05:11 AM
Bruce O. 01 Feb 98 - 01:15 PM
GaryD 01 Feb 98 - 02:05 PM
Jack mostly folk 01 Feb 98 - 03:36 PM
Jack Hickman 01 Feb 98 - 11:44 PM
Charlie Baum 02 Feb 98 - 12:40 AM
DrWord 02 Feb 98 - 01:39 PM
GaryD 03 Feb 98 - 10:32 PM
Jerry Friedman 04 Feb 98 - 05:58 PM
05 Feb 98 - 12:02 AM
Timothy Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 05 Feb 98 - 12:05 AM
Jon W. 05 Feb 98 - 10:27 AM
wolfgang.janz@notes.basf-ag.de 05 Feb 98 - 10:53 AM
Dani 05 Feb 98 - 11:24 AM
Timothy Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 05 Feb 98 - 10:18 PM
Tom Henehan 05 Feb 98 - 11:46 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 06 Feb 98 - 05:55 PM
Christa 13 Feb 98 - 04:10 PM
Jon W. 13 Feb 98 - 05:31 PM
Alex 14 Feb 98 - 01:31 AM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 14 Feb 98 - 12:51 PM
Alex 16 Feb 98 - 10:59 PM
Jerry Friedman 19 Feb 98 - 01:03 PM
GaryD 22 Feb 98 - 07:51 PM
Alex 24 Feb 98 - 01:18 AM
dwditty 24 Feb 98 - 06:42 AM
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Teresa 24 Feb 99 - 10:32 PM
jets 24 Feb 99 - 10:35 PM
GaryD 24 Feb 99 - 10:57 PM
alison 24 Feb 99 - 11:27 PM
Reggie Miles 24 Feb 99 - 11:54 PM
Jack Hickman - Kingston, ON 25 Feb 99 - 12:16 AM
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Subject: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From:
Date: 28 Jan 98 - 11:21 PM

I suggest we talk about street musicians, laws, lifestles, and personal experiences. I love people who entertain in this manner.. One of my favorite experiences was while visting Chicago, I rode the subway systems from beginning to end & chatted with a number of musicians who perform down there.. Most had the idea that they loved it down there!.. They said with the huge transient population, money was no problem, people would board, and another batch would stop. Being down below, they are also protected from the weather... try playing outdoors in the winter in MN! Also they can work whenever they feel like it, no time clocks for them! (I'm sure they didn't tell me the down side like muggings, & people fighting for select sites, etc).. How about it? Any takers?


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Alice
Date: 29 Jan 98 - 01:57 PM

The first that comes to my mind is an old man playing a saw with a violin bow, sitting on a step along the street in Mexico City. It was near the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and many pilgrims and tourists walked through the area. A few weeks earlier, I remember being near Tikal in Guatemala, sitting in a little food establishment in the jungle, listening to a man play a traditional marimba. In both cases, the men were completely absorbed in what they were doing, and seemed to not take notice that anyone else was around them. Alice in Montana


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 29 Jan 98 - 08:04 PM

How I long for talented musical buskers. Our local variety, when they appear, seem to know nothing but Stairway to Heaven and Peace Train. They also don't play anything but guitars. In cities with good buskers you get people playing unexpected instruments, like harps. And I haven't seen a hurdy-gurdy in years.

We do have an annual busker festival, but (1) few of them play musical instruments, and (2) there is something about a planned busker festival that doesn't seem right.

This might be a good time for me to ask a question and still be somewhat on topic. Does anyone know of any band in North America, busker or otherwise, that plays Whoville instruments -- ie giant horns on wheels, enormous bass drums. etc.? I can't plan too early for this year's parade and I have many things in mind.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: BK
Date: 29 Jan 98 - 08:25 PM

What pops up for me is the London subways; and the musicians telling me that the police were really hassling them; seems the powers that be (at that time, I'd hope they changed later?) decided musicians impeded the flow of subway entrance and exit traffic. Later we got to Dublin, where we heard some great street music, and the street performers there told me more or less the same thing, without the excuse about blocking subway traffic...

What kind of celts are those Dublin city leaders, anyhow? Closet/wanna-be Upper Class Englishmen?

Seriously, most of the English regular folk we met were really super, despite their storied "reserve." Of course it didn't hurt to be driving a 25 year old Rover sedan with English tags, and when the guitar case came out, it was almost always a sincere and friendly, "give us a song." But, of course, these were the real people....

Cheers, BK


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GaryD
Date: 30 Jan 98 - 09:39 AM

Great inputs! Guess the following comes to my mind as my latest experience with a street musician. We were vacationing in Winnipeg last summer when I saw a young? "about 20" bagpiper on the corner really letting it rip! He played those old traditional tunes like a champion, as well as new ones.. I'm sure his grandpa would be proud of him, except for the outfit he was wearing.. He had the kilt, but other than that was dressed like a punk rocker, complete with rings in his nose & lip & died spiked hair!... I loved it! Talk about cross cultural diversity!


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Alice
Date: 30 Jan 98 - 10:18 AM

This thread reminds me of the Joni Mitchell song, "He Played Real Good For Free". "...the one man band by the quick lunch stand, he was playin' real good for free. Nobody stopped to hear him, though he played so sweet and high, They knew he had never been on T.V., so they passed his music by."... alice in mt.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Bob Landry
Date: 30 Jan 98 - 11:37 AM

Every year, during the K-Days Exhibition in Edmonton, I work a shift selling Dream Home tickets for my Lions' club. In July/96, after finishing my shift at 11:pm, I walked into to subway station and encountered a Cape Breton-style fiddler accompanied by a banjo player. They had a spare guitar on the ground and I got permission to use it and join them. Cape Breton rhythms are in my blood and pretty soon we had people dancing down the hall on their way to the train. They threw fistfuls of coins into the open guitar case. We played until the last train had left and the security guards had to lock up. What a fun time! I have no idea how much money they made but I sure had fun and I'd do it again at the drop of a pick.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Jon W.
Date: 30 Jan 98 - 12:52 PM

Tim, in answer to your Whoville question: I saw a little bit of a documentary on a couple who provided the music to Dr. Seuss cartoons, and that they had made several of the instruments they used. This was probably on PBS, just a week or so ago. Maybe you can track it down. (PBS is the Public Broadcasting System educational TV in the USA) Sorry I have no more info. Sounds like a fun idea for a parade.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Jan 98 - 02:59 PM

We used to have a couple of regulars here in Wash DC....a black lady who played gospel guitar, and a guy who had his own battery-powered little set-up, and he was really good...they were both fixtures here for years (also saw a couple guys playing flute & violin -- classical, at a subway stop years back)...not many on the streets these days...and 25 years ago in Berkeley, CA. on campus, I saw a young woman busking on dobro!Have several pictures of her...she was good, too....

and Brian Bowers, the autoharpist, started out in bars and on street corners...has some wild stories about it form the musician's point of view...


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GaryD
Date: 31 Jan 98 - 11:22 PM

Wow, would've loved to hear Brian doing "Zen Gospel Singing" on the corner..could've even dressed the part like a Bhuddist Monk.. By the way, I told a friend about me starting this thread. He asked, is there anyone out there making any real kinds of money performing as a street musician? He means monies like 15-20,000/yr. I told him I'd ask.. Anybody know of personal experiences or acquaintences who are making an average to better than average income? I may be wrong, but I get the impression that most Buskers are rather on the poverty end, but do it for the love of it. How much truth is there to that? And any of you out there offended by that perception?


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 01 Feb 98 - 12:06 AM

I remember in my Boston, Mass. days (1976-79) going over to Brattle Square in Cambridge (a block down from Harvard Square) on a Saturday night in the summer and taking in more than a dozen different busking groups in an evening. It got to be such a popular place that I understand the city of Cambridge had to start a licensing system combined with a lottery to allocate the most popular sites. (The city, I should mention, invested some money in creating plazas and "street furniture" conducive to busking.)

I've never seen elsewhere such a concentrated collection of buskers.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Barry
Date: 01 Feb 98 - 12:39 AM

Charlie, Lots of folks here have Boston history. They still busk in the square, alot, durning warmer weather, as much as ever, never saw a better place for it, in a one block area you could see/hear up to 10 acts at once with out any one of them inpossing on the others. Some acts went on to become famous, Tracy Chapman was one. Barry


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Ricky Rackin
Date: 01 Feb 98 - 01:57 AM

I was in a Harvard Square group called The Brattle Streetband back then. [Nancy Koch,Elliott Ribner,Tommy Magee, occasionally Todd Kabza & Andy Hanley] Surely one of the high points of my life. We even got a write-up in the alt press that used the Joanie Mitchell song mentioned above as a picture caption. Some scarry stuff though. Like the time we were playing in the Coop doorway and a guy snuck in behind me while I was playing concertina and started CHOKING me !! A plain-clothes cop was there, opended his "hippy" vest showing me his gun and told me not to WORRY !! Somehow I lived thru it..... Ricky


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: hanrahan
Date: 01 Feb 98 - 05:11 AM

This brings back memories of summer days on the Boston Common 1968-72....guitars, sometimes 10 or more...crowds of singers...bali-high(sp) wine ...a variety of herbal essances...war protests...George McGovern...concerts on Cambridge Common...what a time that was. Another great area for street performers is in New York City around 4th street i think, positively 4th street...and Washington Square where i once saw John Lennon playing some old wooden bongos with this huge man (6'5" at least) on a flute and a guitar player...It has been several years since i last passed through NYC, i wonder if the scene is still there. Boston & Cambridge are definitly still hosts to numerous buskers, not only music but i have recently seen magicians, acrobats, and even a fire eater...bless them all for the flavor they add to the city.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 01 Feb 98 - 01:15 PM

I saw lots of street singers in London when I was there in 1972. They were mostly around to entrances.exits to the subway, and most were Americans.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GaryD
Date: 01 Feb 98 - 02:05 PM

I envy you guys. They are almost non existant in Central Minnesota. Obviously winter here shoots them all down, but even summer doesn't seem to work. I wonder if there are local laws against it. Also, any response to my question about what kind of money can be made? Also, I wonder what is would take to get the local Malls to allow them. Wouldn't that be attractive to bring patrons to the mall? Or would the merchants think it is an interference?


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Jack mostly folk
Date: 01 Feb 98 - 03:36 PM

The largest and most encouraged Buskering going on has to be the touristy Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.These street musicians surely make 20K plus during the height of the tourist season.They likely have night gigs as well. Some ten tears ago they had the infamous "Human Jukebox".This musician had decorated a large appliance box to look like a juke box with slots for green stuff money with song selections at each slot. When money went into the selected slot, the little curtain would rise and this bearded trumpeteer would wide eye appear and like a mechanical robot commence playing your favorite selection. Street entertainment at its best. The area was full of a wide variety of acys.Their musicians must obtain a permit before just any one can go out and busker. Another novilty idea I stumbled on and found to be most worthwhile was a workshop at a festaval, "How To Busker" conducted by traveling musicians Jem Moore and Ariane Lydon. They had some challenging ideas on how to busker anywhere when money got tight. Most cities don,t have laws against buskering, instead have laws pertaining to vagrantcy and panhandling. Musicians are providing a service for donations would be their defence. But they also advised when confronted by the authorities to gather your best money and move on. Tourist gigs are at best since the flow of new audiences are always changing. A real nice subject to ponder on.. Thanks Jack mostly folk


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Jack Hickman
Date: 01 Feb 98 - 11:44 PM

Good to see all the response to this subject. I live in Kingston, Ontario, and for the past seven years we've held a "Buskers' Rendezvous" here, sponsored by the Downtown Business Association. It attracts some pretty high-powered acts from out of town, mostly acrobats, jugglers, but with quite a few musical acts. A lot of local musicians and groups get involved, it lasts from Thursday to Sunday, with a grand finale in the waterfront park involving the finalists. The finale is said to attract an audience of about 3000 people. It's a good event, but not buskering in its truest form. I think it;s too structured. The rest of the year, we have a few buskers on the streets. They don't get hassled too much, but the City requires that they have a licence. The enforcement isn't too strict, I think it's there just in case a downtown business person objects to the buskers. I must admit that some of the acts are pretty mediocre, some guy with a 2.00 guitar, three chords and a terrible voice, or else our classic busker, a sadly disadvantaged person with a harmonica and a tambourine.

I'm 65 years old, play a mean bodhran (that's a real busking instrument) and a mediocre tin whistle. My dream is to take off for the summer to some town where nobody knows me, find a lucrative corner and sit and play my whistle all day. Maybe one of these years.

Keep the Faith.

Jack Hickman


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 02 Feb 98 - 12:40 AM

Probably the requirements for a good buskering place involve a fairly high numbers of passers-by, a decent-sized space, preferably plaza-like, and an acoustic environment without too much constant background noise. In Washington, DC, one summer evening, some friends and I thought it might be fun to find a place to become outdoor entertainment. The only place we could think of in the city with sufficiently heavy pedestrian traffic was Georgetown--and when we got there, we realized that the entire area is in the flight path of Washington National Airport, which means a loud and low overflying jet approximately every 75 seconds. It's no wonder that there isn't a buskering tradition in Georgetown, DC!


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: DrWord
Date: 02 Feb 98 - 01:39 PM

In Winnipeg, at the newly redeveloped "The Forks" at the confluence of the Red River of the North and the Assiniboine, there are several "Busk Stops" where the traffic is high. A sort of audition is required, but the standards are not very stringent. A wide range of performers busk there. Last summer, at our town's annual fair, our folk festival set up three busk stops. Several of my friends and I made close to $100 a day. The high point for me was when Loreena McKennit dropped a toonie [Canadian two-dollar coin] into my mando case. btw, the verb is busk, busking [NOT buskering]. Enjoying this thread a lot! Let's keep it going.

Dennis


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GaryD
Date: 03 Feb 98 - 10:32 PM

Wow, DrWord!...That's where I was when I saw that bagpiper I started this off with! We hope to return this summer during the folk festival!.. If you live near there, perhaps we can get connected. Messages can be relayed to me in through mudcat or my email Loomis@EspressoCom.Com To return to the subject, I think it would be nice to take some of the information above and talk to our City Fathers about it & see if they would be interested in conjunction with our local summer festival (similar to Jack H's)..& Charlie, I agree with you about the noise.When I was down in the subways of Chicago listening, every couple moments a new train came screeching in, drowning out everything!


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 04 Feb 98 - 05:58 PM

The time I visited Paris a few years ago, there were Gypsy musicians busking on the Metro. They were very disciplined and professional in their manner and performance--which I thought reduced the charm of this kind of music.

On the other hand, the much less skilled musicians busking outside the health-food stores (good place to find rich people) in Santa Fe don't do much for me either. For one thing, a lot of them are very emotionally intense, and I can only take that if it goes with a lot of talent. For another, one of them goes barefoot, and in cold weather I just can't look at him. (If he wants to get pity for his real or fake poverty he should wrap his feet in newspapers and rags.) This is a tip for all you buskers out there.

Some of you Irish and Hibernophilic (?) folks might like Ray Bradbury's book Green Shadows, White Whale, about his stay in Ireland working on the script for John Huston's Moby Dick. One of the episodes is about a woman playing the harp on a street in Dublin.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From:
Date: 05 Feb 98 - 12:02 AM

Jack, I'm glad to read that you are still playing after all these years. Your band and the guest musicians used to have some good sessions after the multicultural thingamajig in Kingston, and I hope you are still having them. I remember one in particular in Sydenham Ward where early one morning we heard a loud pounding on the door, and I jokingly roared that it's only the cops. It was.

BTW, Jack, I was very sorry to read about the mass destruction of Kingston's fine old trees during the ice storm. I understand that your local JayCee chapter is starting a fund to replant them, but none of us will ever live to see them the size of your grand old trees, planted in the days of the British garrison. (For those of you from outside of Canada, the old part of Kingston is one of the prettiest cities in Canada, and certainly has the finest pubs in Ontario.)

Jon, I don't watch TV anymore but I do know what PBS is. It is available in the most remote parts of Canada. Does this Whoville band march? I'm serious about this as I would like a real Whoville band for the parade. It would be a fine Christmas thing.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Timothy Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 05 Feb 98 - 12:05 AM

That last post was from me.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Jon W.
Date: 05 Feb 98 - 10:27 AM

Sorry, Tim, I really don't know any more about the Dr. Seuss instruments than I said in my last post. It was just something that was on TV and caught my attention momentarily as I walked through the room, but the program was pretty much over by then. I think it was just an older married couple who had contracted to provide the music for Dr. Seuss cartoons, and built several instruments to do so. Plus they used synthesizers a lot.

For a parade, you can probably get by with improvising on the simple stuff (kettle and trash can lids, for instance). You might want to try hiding real instruments inside of papier-mache mock ups for some of the more fancy things. Also I would suggest plastic plumbing pipe and fittings. It's light, cheap, easy to work, and can be painted to disguise it as metal. No doubt you can sculpt many fantastic wind instruments with it.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: wolfgang.janz@notes.basf-ag.de
Date: 05 Feb 98 - 10:53 AM

Buskering Lago di Garda /Italy: Every year we go to Malcesine on Lake Garda, where you can play at the lakeside in places like Garda, Riva and Malcesine at warm September nights; songs from the sixties, like Eleonor Rigby and Strawberry fields forever or Norwegian wood. People stop wandering and listen to the tunes throwing some lire in your guitar case.. Awesome... Hobby busker Stag


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Dani
Date: 05 Feb 98 - 11:24 AM

Jack Hickman, come to Chapel Hill NC. There's a college-town-casual scene along Franklin Street that I love. Day or night, you're likely to hear a haunting sax or a lively penny whistle. One Friday night while driving through my daughter and I heard some driving percussion, so we ditched the car and grabbed a seat on a curb to hear a pickup group play small rhythm instruments of ALL kinds in a lengthy jam that would give you goosebumps to hear. We joined in as well as we could on our knees and then danced.

Dani


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Timothy Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 05 Feb 98 - 10:18 PM

No, I have enough to do with the parade without building instruments and marching in it too. I was hoping someone would be doing this already.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Tom Henehan
Date: 05 Feb 98 - 11:46 PM

I spent a couple of years (1971-72) singing on the streets of San Francisco (summer) and New Orleans (winter). It was soty of a "golden age" -- no permits required, plenty of talented people. In SF especially, you could hear any kind of music. Around Union Square, you could hear harpists, string quartets, and other classical-type acts; us folk/blues types did better around Fisherman's Wharf, Ghiradelli Square and (especially) Pier 1 Imports. (It wasn't such a golden age for income, though. I put in a solid 40-50 hours a week for maybe $80-$100. There were better musicians, but very few putting in as much time, and I don't think you could make much more money.) My favorite fellow buskers were three very old, very primitive gospel singers here in New Orleans. They were in it for Jesus, not for the money, and they didn't make much. Youcan check them out if you rent the movie "Easy Rider"; they appear on screen for just a few seconds, but they provide the sound track for at least five minutes during the Mardi Gras acid trip scene. Probably didn't get paid for it either -- ask Dennis Hopper. My busking career ended in Boston/Cambridge, Mass. I had just been busted for draft evasion, and was undecided whether to turn myself in or continue north towards Canada. After a pleasant and lucrative evening entertaining the folks lined up outside the Orson Welles Theatre, I accepted an offer to huddle up inside a VW van to smoke a J. My hosts -- who I later learned were the STP family from Boulder -- sliped me a mickey; I woke up the next afternoon with no wallet, no money, no ID, and my glases broken. They did, however, leave my Martin guitar alone, thank God. I would up spending a year in the Army as a conscientious objector, eventually got discharged "for the convenience of the government," and right now I sitting in a house I bought on the GI bill. Since I made more girls than money as a streetsinger, I had to give it up when I got married. I'm still nostalgic about the good old days, though, and recently got back into a little bit as a vocalist in a PTA oldies roock band. My wife and kids gave me an acoustic guitar pickup and a little practice amp for Christmas, and I'm trying to work up some of my old repertoire for an open mike night or two. I found this site searching for some lyrics I had forgotten -- it's great! Thanks for listening to my reminiscences about the good old days.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 06 Feb 98 - 05:55 PM

You mention the STP family from Boulder like we should know them. Who are or were they?


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Christa
Date: 13 Feb 98 - 04:10 PM

FYI - the busking scene is alive and well in the UK and Ireland. The winter drives them into the Underground or the shelter of ancient buildings, but in the three remaining seasons, there are *amazingly* talented people to be found liberaly littered in random places making fabulous music. And *every night* in every wee hamlet frae John O'Groats tae Land's End, there are jaw-dropping pickup sessions that wend well into the wee hours of the night, producing angel-music at 3 am by peat fires in long-since closed pubs. God, how I miss it all !!

I just returned from the better part of two years in Scotland, and did some busking myself at the Fringe each year - pyur deid brillyunt, as they say in Glasgow ! But here behind the Orange Curtain in SoCal, no such gatherings are allowed, and no pub scene flourishes.... so I sit by the stereo, listening to all those badly-taped-on-a-walkman sessions, remembering, singing to myself, and dreaming of a day when music gains as central a place in life here in the States.

Slainte and Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Jon W.
Date: 13 Feb 98 - 05:31 PM

Yes, Christa, when music replaces Muzak!


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Alex
Date: 14 Feb 98 - 01:31 AM

I seem to recall the term "Busker" comes from the origina British street musicians working that captive audience at a Bus Stop i.e. a Bus Queue. Is that the origin?


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 14 Feb 98 - 12:51 PM

OED says "busker" comes from the obsolete "busk", meaning "to peddle".


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Alex
Date: 16 Feb 98 - 10:59 PM

Yes, but the modern-day usage means to perform in the street nothing to do with selling anything. There's also an old Scots song with the line "Busk, Busk, Bonnie lassie, an' come awa' wi' me, An' I'll tak' ye tae Glen Isla, Near bonnie Glen Shee". I don't think the lad was inviting her to sell anything or play him a tune either!


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 19 Feb 98 - 01:03 PM

Eric Partridge agrees with the OED that the musical "busk" originally meant "peddle". The change from "playing in the street for money" to "playing in the street for any purpose" is a small one. (This word is ultimately from Spanish buscar and Italianbuscare, "to seek", which in turn may be from Germanic words related to "bush"--as in "beat the bushes for something".)

"Busk" in that Scots song is unrelated. It means "prepare oneself, get ready" or "hurry", either of which makes sense in the song. (It's from an Old Norse word for "prepare oneself", and may be distantly related to "bound" as in "bound for glory".)

Now pretend you're interested, Alex!


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GaryD
Date: 22 Feb 98 - 07:51 PM

Well, I guess I got my money's worth from this thread I started. Sure glad for all your inputs. I sure wish there was some activity here in Central MN, I'll have to hope I can travel to some of your locales sometime in the future. Good luck to all of you who have contributed & I hope you will be immensely successful & happy if you entertain as a busker. Keep on the Sunnyside!..Gary


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Alex
Date: 24 Feb 98 - 01:18 AM

I guess the explanation of Bonnnie Glen Shee is that the Scots lad was telling his lass to get ready and prepare her bush.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: dwditty
Date: 24 Feb 98 - 06:42 AM

Ah, yes. Street musicians. I always take the opportunity to stop and listen - no matter what, and I always make a contribution. When I was at UMASS in 1975 (I had "tenyear" in college), a guitar player used to show up in the student union, He was from Boston and wore a badge #1 issued by the city of Boston (I guess to try to enforce some kind of bureaucracy on an the practice of singing - oh, what's next).
Another memory has me on a shuttle boat in Nassau. There was an older gentleman playing guitar and singing. Now, one of my favorite artists of all times is Joseph Spence who lived a good deal of his life in Nassau. During our conversation, this "boat" musician allowed as how Joseph's playing "just complexifies my mind." I later asked him to play a particular song (I was riding back and forth between the shuttle stops at this point - ain't no way I was leaving). His response was that that song just never grafted to his head.
Last October I was in Denver on business. Whenever I travel, I always seek out the local music scene. Ran into a street musician (can't remember his street) but he had been there for years - every day - winter and summer. Again, I stayed until "last call"
Except for one guy I saw playing Jethro Tull's Aqualung on an electric guitar through a Pignose amp (Boston), I would call all these buskers "folk musicians" - please see thread entitled Methodologies for more on this subject!


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From:
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 09:16 PM

The best buskers in the world are in Covent Garden London and on the streets and the metro in Paris. There is nowhere in the US, not San Francisco, not even New York that matches Paris and London. Proof of this is that Paris and London are full of Americans on the run from a country that doesn't allow them free musical expression playing American music to the only people they can find who will listen, namely Europeans......go figure....


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Teresa
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 10:32 PM

Close to ten years ago, I set off across the San Francisco B ay with my guitar to busk in a subway (BART) station. The day was hot and humid--unusual weather for San Francisco in October. After playing for a couple of hours and not geting much money, I decided to do one more song before I packed up. I heard a rumble which seemed unusually loud. Then the floor began to slither and roll, and all heck broke loose. The floor pitched and yawed, and it was all I could do to keep my feet and get my guitar back into its case. I didn't bother to panic; I simply had the feeling that the whole world was about to fall on top of me. So why panic? I finally did--when the quake stopped and I realized I was still alive! I feel pretty lucky. Teresa


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: jets
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 10:35 PM

I have been busking in the city of Portland Maine for the last two years .I usualy play solo on my squeeze box,but on occasion, have played there with my 3 piece band.Squeeze box ,guitar and manolin. Playing solo is my favoite but I will admit that as a trio,we make better music. How much can you make was asked. The guitar player went on the corner and played,and sang r&b solo for 4 hrs and picked up #o.35 . The next day I went to the same corner played 3hrs and picked up $55.00.As a trio we make about the same every time but of course there is a three way split.A guitar player singing on the corner is old hat but what we play as a trio and what I play as a solo is something that they have never heard,and I might add that we do it well. It was last September that a lady approched me and asked if I was Finnish.I told her that I was of French extraction.She said ,But those are all Finnish songs that you are playing.She was from Michigan and was the daughter of Finnish parents Can't wait to get back on the corner.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GaryD
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 10:57 PM

Wow...can't believe my thread of a year ago is still going.. Still fascinated with the Street Musician thing.. Wish I could do it here in Central MN..If not for money so much, just would like to entertain to passer's by. It is nice to know the tradition still works elsewhere. But with the snow & unprotected environment here (not to mention the stupid local legislation against such things), I guess I'll just have to hear about it here...

Any other inputs would be Great... thanks Gary


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: alison
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 11:27 PM

Hi,

I had had a really long tiring day in London and was exhausted......... coming home in the underground I had been subjected to the usual stuff as previously mentioned... Stairway to heaven, Blowing in the wind etc ...... well I got off the tube and there at the bottom of the escalators were two pretty beat up looking violinists............... but when they started to play it was magic.... they did Bach's violin concerto in D minor...... brilliant.....

My other favourite busking memory was in Annecy, (a small town in the French Alps..... it is built beside a lake and has the most wonderful old part of the city... really old buildings alongside canals...... sort of like Venice .. only prettier)....... there were two blokes dressed in black cloaks and masks pushing a harpsichord around the cobbled streets on a wagon type thing... every so often they'd stop and play.. some haunting melodies.. while one of them skulked about through the crowd, like a hunchback collecting the money. they were fantastic... really fitted in with the whole ambience of the old town. beautiful place I'd go back there like a shot if I could.

Slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Reggie Miles
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 11:54 PM

I was quite surprised that no one has mentioned Seattle among the many places that accomodate busking. There is and has been a very active population of buskers there for the last twenty years or more. I know I'm one of them. I've also played the streets of Boulder Colorado, San Francisco and Santa Cruz CA, and New Orleans LA. The Pacific Northwest though holds a certain attraction for me. The Pike Place Market in Seattle has been a wonderful place to perform over the years and after twenty years I still enjoy it. The number of visitors there make it an ideal location. There are locations designated and numbers at those indicating the number of performers that can busk at a given locale. There are fees to obtain a permit to perform there and a host of rules and regulations governing the activity but generally common sense seems to be the main guide. If someone wishes to perform with a giving heart in a respectful manner there's a place. There is a wide variety of entertainment that shows up mostly of the musical variety an occasional magician, puppeteer, sorry, no loud or amplified instruments allowed. The proximity to those who live in the market prohibits them. Years ago the rules were nonexistent now the beaurocrats insist on them. As an entertainer I've seen the effect of these restrictions before and after the fact. I'm not so sure that I agree with them but I live with them. All in all the experience of having a place to perform for a live though mobile audience has been rewarding beyond words. The street has been a place to hone my various talents. First arriving in the area in '78 I was playing alot of guitar and harmoninca but shortly after was given the job of percussionist in a band that a few of us put together. We called ouselves the Buzzards. I became the washboard player in the band. We played alot of old timey fiddle tunes and bluegrass as well as originals. Never having played percussion before I had my work cut out for me. My washboard later transformed into quite the sound effects playground and is still metamorphosing. The Buzzards went their separate ways but I've kept on scrubbin' on the darn ol' thang, mostly with jug and washboard blues bands. Recently the creation of my own crazy percussion /sound effects gizmo has inspired me to take a stab at creating my last two rezophonic guitars with grand results. Constructed with only seat of the pants luthierism on my part and no fancy toolery. Most recently I've set aside my guitar and percussion work to play with razor sharp handtools on the streets. It's something that I first encountered on the streets of Santa Cruz. There, about twenty years ago, a man by the name of Tom Scribner played his musical saw and amazed me with his abilty. It would be years later before I would find one at a swap meet and years more before I would even begin to explore its mysteries. I've been at it now for five years and though I don't feel I've mastered it, I really get a kick out of playing it. It sets me apart from all those guitar players out there on the street. Besides Tom isn't playing his saw on any of these streets around here any more. He's playing those heavenly streets of gold. I figured someone needed to take up where he left off down here. The money made at this sort of activity varies as to the amount of time and energy you wish or can invest in it. Time of day, week, month, year, location, your own abilities with your own chosen form of entertainment, music, juggling, puppetry, etc., they and endless other variables enter into whether you will succeed at this thing we call busking. What is your definition of success? That too has to be factored in. As for myself I've had the time of my life and still enjoy busking. I too am looking at the European scene as another area I'd like to explore. I do my share of pubs, restaurants, schools, concerts, festivals and other special events and I don't think I'll ever stop busking. As my friend Artis the Spoonman likes to comment, there are no age limits, dress codes, cover charges, minimum drink charges on the street you can play to everyone. I like those demographics. Saw ya later, Reggie Miles


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Jack Hickman - Kingston, ON
Date: 25 Feb 99 - 12:16 AM

I lost track of this thread for a while, but quite enjoyed picking it up again. The question was asked, how much money can buskers make, and the answer varies an awful lot. In our town during the Buskers' Festival, we found that a family consisting of ma and pa and five kids would stand in front of you for half an hour, make all kinds of requests, then when ready to move on, would throw a quarter in the case. This to be split amond six of us. On the other hand, once, and only once, a young lady known to all of us in the band dropped in ten bucks without batting an eye. I don't know whether she liked us or the music we played.

I've spoken to a couple of guys about how worth while it is to busk. This one guy lives about 60 miles from our town, and during the summer comes in about 3 times a week to busk. In the winter, he goes to Toronto, a round trip of about 150 miles, to play in the St. Lawrence Market. He says he makes out alright, but he always looks like a ragbag, although anytime I've seen his kids, they were always clean and well-dressed. He usually has them close by as a psychological ploy. Maybe his wife has a good job and supports his busking habits, among others.

The other guy I have in mind plays on the streets all year long, and that takes some doing in our climate. He wears special mittens with the fingers exposed so he can play his guitar. About three days a week he plays for a couple of hours in front of the liquor store, and tells me he makes out like a bandit. I guess people going into to buy booze have a sense of guilt. They never stop to listen, just throw money in the case and walk on.

During our Buskers' Festival, they attract a lot of travelling buskers who really make a living out of it. They're good, but most importantly, they know how to attract and hold a crowd for about half an hour or so. It wouldn't surprise me it they made in the 20k range, but they also have a lot of travel expenses.

Tim Jacques: A belated response to your comments above. The latest thing is what the City fathers are planning to do with our beautiful County Court House. As a lawyer, you'd appreciate it. I'll fill you in in another message. Send me your e-mail address.

Keep the Faith, all of you.

Jack Hickman


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 25 Feb 99 - 01:40 AM

Once, in my 20s while living briefly in Holland, I sat down in an Amsterdam park and took out the guitar. Didn't even think about busking 'cause I was working in a club frequented by American school teachers and the pay wasn't bad. I was just doodling around and before I knew it, my case was getting filled....with joints! I wasn't sure just how liberal the Dutch laws were and having seen "Midnight Express" didn't want to end up in jail...on the other hand I didn't want to leave the dope! It was when a middle aged woman came by and said "Dylan, please" and included with some coins, a small BAG of dope that I realised "This was definitely NOT Kansas!" or Toronto either.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Willie-O
Date: 25 Feb 99 - 12:01 PM

I spent quite a few years playing on the street, mostly in the ByWard Market in Ottawa, but including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, San Francisco, and Kingston. I played hammered dulcimer mostly, which has a high "whazthat thing?" quotient, a unique and penetrating sound, and an interesting visual aspect. Six or eight hours a day of practicing was great for my technique, but then I was sick of playing, and tended not to sit down and learn new tunes on my own time, so I kept on with the same fifty or sixty. Which got boring. Hard to keep it in tune in the sun, needless to say, but I tried to keep it somewhere near concert.

I usually took a mandolin or fiddle with me to have something to switch to, to break the monotony or if a friend showed up to jam, but the dulcimer generated a lot more interest and money.

The amount of money I made varied pretty much in direct proportion to pedestrian traffic which is a function of time of day and what part of the week it is. Might make $30-45 on a weekday afternoon, $50-70 on a Saturday or Sunday, and at special events like Canada Day, $100/day was not at all unheard of. My best day ever was outside the Eaton Centre in Toronto, made $170 in a long day--probably eight hours of banging out tunes between noon and 10 p.m.

There's always regulatory politics in busking, and the regs are always changing. Since I got out of it ten or twelve years ago, Ottawa went to a licencing system, then dropped it. The only rule enforced now, I think, is it's bad form to hog the best spots for more than an hour--if either a vendor or another musician asks for the spot after you've been there a long time, you're soupposed to move on.

Busk stops--that's cute.

Longtime buskers get locally famous. (I think I know the "ragamuffin" guy you mention in Kingston, Jack--in fact I resemble him, although I ain't him.)

A buddy of mine who's a street old-timer, Spider Merritt, used to busk every winter on the Rideau Canal, which is the worlds longest skating rink. Canal officials used his picture in their publicity one year without permission or payment, and he took them to Small Claims court. He won $1800 for--get this--"wrongful misappropriation of personality." The defendants argued that the statute in question only applied to famous people. Spider's been a full-time busker for twenty-odd years, and has a big collection of newspaper articles & pictures of himself--which he presented as evidence and succeeded in proving himself famous!

Funnily enough, they busted another one-man-band busker on the canal this winter, and now he's famous too. The papers and radio stations couldn't get enough of him, and his CD sales are doing great!

I learned a lot working on the street, and the money was often o.k. It was cash, too. But most folks burn out on it eventually. I don't have it in me to do the 60-mile drive to town for who knows what compensation, and the dulcimer doesn't get played much anymore.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Bert
Date: 25 Feb 99 - 01:14 PM

What IS the problem that officials have with buskers? It many cities the sight of a guitar is enough to bring the local cops out.

I was sitting on my own front porch one day with a few friends we were singing folk songs (not loudly) and the police came by and told us to stop.

This is in Phoenixville PA, a town of 15000 or so.
I met a guy in New Hope PA, who HAD a street musicians license from the city. He said he still couldn't play there though because the police kept moving him on.

So, all you policemen out there, these are the questions.
Have you EVER seen a traffic jam caused by a busker?
Have you EVER seen a riot or disturbance caused by a busker?
Have you EVER heard a busker play as loudly as those punks with car stereos? You allow them to play with impunity down our street.
So you bullies with badges WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM????

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Penny
Date: 25 Feb 99 - 06:17 PM

It's not just the police - I was in York, part of a group enjoying the playing of a band from the Andes when the woman owner of a nearby gift shop came out and demanded they move because they were taking custom from her. She was the sort of Brit who gives us a bad name, uptight, upper-class emulation, narrow of voice and attitude. She was also the sort who expects no opposition, and none of us said a word. None of us went into her shop, either, and most of us followed the musicians. They were good players.

I would also recommend to those visitors to London who like classical busking that they go to the Kensington area, near South Kensington Tube station, or the tunnel to the Science Museum, where the students from the schools of music perform.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Dan Duryea
Date: 25 Feb 99 - 06:31 PM

I started singing and playing my guitar in the Boston subways in June of 1998 and I1ve been doing it 3 days a week pretty regularly since then. I do mostly fairly standard Trad folk chestnuts plus a few J. Cash, a few Hank Williams, a few Woody Guthrie and a couple of contempory folk gems thrown in, all pretty well known stuff and all songs I picked only because I happen to like them. To my surprise, people like it. Not everyone, of course, but enough to keep me happy. I sing acoustic so I can1t perform anywhere near the length of time some others do. My voice lasts about two hours. In addition, at age 57 I have to watch out for tendonitus in my left shoulder and this limits my guitar playing time. I do get money but no where near some of the figures mentioned in posts above. I got $11 today, a little better than my average but last Tuesday only about $3.50. I1m not doing this for the money but for the practice. Down there you are singing in front of people, even if they1re not looking at you (and mostly they don1t except if they are young children). But they ARE listening. I know because whenever I goof up and play a chord that is badly wrong, 6 or 8 heads will turn around and look at me.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that winter playing was not a problem. The station that I frequent (Davis Square) is a full two stories underground and averages about 40 degrees winter and summer. The guitar gets cold and starts to sound a little tinny after a while on a real cold day.

There are a fair number of people making music in the subways, a few very regular people and a larger number that you see every once in a while. But as far as I can tell this activity is completly unregulated except at the Harvard Square station where the is a 7AM coin toss to see who gets the spot. Everywhere else it1s whoever gets there first. Nobody has ever given me any grief or even questioned me in any way. The worst time I have had was one Friday night when some sad old drunk wanted to sing along, but I ignored him and he went away after a couple of songs. On the positive side, many have come up and thanked me, said they liked my music. A minor annoyance is people who come up to me and want to talk when I am trying to concentate on my music. I1m slowly learning to deal with such distractions but it usually throw me off for a while.

Dan from Boston


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: jo77
Date: 25 Feb 99 - 07:54 PM

Hi all - I like this thread. First thing comes to mind is the fact that most 'public' music is manicured by 'corporate' type agencies and cleaned up - I fear a little too much - I love original and topical folk. So busking is a great source. I recall Seattle and I seen London at it's best. I believe folk may be under/overating what they hear there are xcellent buskers in most Cities if you'll poke around.

Wonder what things make people stop and think in these times - certainly not protest songs. Seems like injustice is now accepted no one even stops to notice. Recently I heard a church person comment on the total no of abortions in thelast 20 years. I leave the reader to calculate the total. Unpleasant? Also notice the general approval of the death penalty in the USA when it is likely that 1 in 7 being murdered by states is innocent. Just poking around here. I teach Guitar (play harmonica a little) Love to Jam favs are 50's 60's the GOOD stuff - can't stand the crap. Love Leadbelly also love Jazz and capable Celtic eg Cooley/ Coleman/ Ennis. My most enjoyable recording I own is by Doc & Merle Watson :)


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Gearoid
Date: 26 Feb 99 - 08:45 AM

There are buskers on Dublin's Grafton street all year round.

Just for your info

(Short and sweet)

Gearoid


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GaryD
Date: 28 Feb 99 - 07:04 PM

Still enjoying my thread.. Like to pose a couple of questions.. 1. Have any of you had experiences where you got the local governmental types to, if not set up busking sites, at least allowed you to perform? and (not that we want to concentrate to much on the negative) but, 2. Have any of you been robbed, assaulted, or otherwise had a scary experiences in busking? What protection/precautions do you suggest?

One final comment for now, I agree with some of you who talk about the preponderance of guitars and some loss of interest.. I don't play on street corners, but at Bluegrass Jams in Central MN I play a guitar, but find that the dulcimers, mandolins, etc do get a lot more interest. I find that it's the songs I sing that get the most satisfaction with my audience.. I am sort of known as Gary of the odd song: ethnic dialect songs (by types like Slim Jim), Yodeling, Foreign Language songs, topical songs like Amelia Earhart.. this is the kind of thing I do to help make up for my lack of instrumental talent.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Misha from Chicago
Date: 01 Mar 99 - 03:41 PM

Hello, I am a busker from Chicago. I am primarily a songwriter, but down in the Subway I play guitar and sing some classic pop, blues and jazz. We have a lot of police harassment as well here in Chicago, on the streets and in the subway. Women seem to get it worse because it's more men than women. But the money can sometimes be great when you don't have any other income. Coming to Chicago? Check out our Busker scene.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Felipa
Date: 01 Mar 99 - 05:44 PM

the Scottish 'busk' can mean 'to dress', a specific way of getting ready, see for example, Fair Janet in the database.The subject came up early in this thread - seems unrelated to 'busking' as in performing on the street. A song that IS about busking, Real Good for Free by Joni Mitchell, isn't in the database yet. That's about hearing a busker - any songs about being a busker (Does Sayer's I'm a One Man Band fit?)


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Teresa
Date: 01 Mar 99 - 07:43 PM

Hi. One time while I was busking in a subway station, someone tapped my shoulder and kindly told me she was keeping an eye on my guitar case, because some scruffy-looking guys were looking at it hard, too. Being totally blind, I didn't notice that in addition to the coins that clanked into my tin, there was a good deal of that quiet money going in, too. I certainly learned to keep checking for it, putting the quiet stuff in a more secure hiding place.--A cautionary tale. ...

Teresa


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GaryD
Date: 01 Mar 99 - 11:53 PM

I would have no problem here in Central MN entertaining like you all suggest, but I'd be pretty nervous in places like Chicago.. not that crime doesn't exist here, but it's a bit rarer...


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Bert
Date: 02 Mar 99 - 09:33 AM

Misha,

It doesn't surprise me that women get more 'police harassment' than men. I'ts the bully thing.

Whoever is the easiest target gets it. A woman first, next a lone honky folk singer, and NEVER those four big black guys driving along with the windows down belting out several hundred watts of rap.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: AlistairUK
Date: 19 Mar 99 - 09:54 AM

Normally I give money to buskers that I think are good...or even look to be trying hard...i've done it so I know how it goes.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 19 Mar 99 - 10:29 AM

I usually give something (if times get hard I might be on the other end) - depends what's in my pocket; if I stood and listened for a while I'd expect to give accordingly, but I don't always get the chance to hang around.

I saw a guy once in Sutton Coldfield (England) playing a trumpet to backing tapes. He was very good - souded just like General Lafayette (or if you're too old, Eddie Cantor). I stood and watched him a while - from a distance - and began to get suspicious. I don't expect all trumpeters' cheeks to inflate like Dizzy Gillespie's, but I do expect them to look as if they're breathing - this guy's cheeks never even fluttered! I didn't have the nerve to walk up close and make sure if he was miming.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 19 Mar 99 - 03:34 PM

Not many buskers in Baltimore. Saw one in Ocean City a few months ago. He played the "blues" real well. If I like the music enough to stop and listen, I toss in some money. How much, depends on how long I stay and and how much I like the music. I've "tipped" a dollar a song sometimes.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Susan A-R
Date: 19 Mar 99 - 10:32 PM

My husband and I were visiting friends in Toronto. On our way from the train station to their house, we heard a guy playing classical music on an electric guitar, and he was pretty good. We related the story to our friends, and as we were finishing up the tale, in came the busker. Our buddy Becca's brother. A fair portion of the income in that household comes from Busking. Michael does guitar work, and Becca and Alan do parlour songs (and whatever Alan can get his vocal chords around) w keyboard.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Hank
Date: 22 Mar 99 - 09:13 AM

Steve, cheeks should not move. Those old self taught players with the bugling cheeks ruin their neck muscles. Nothing deadly, but not really a good thing either. You shouldn't be able to tell anything from the cheeks. Maybe from the way the stomach moves. (but even them movement is slow). Get close though and you should be able to tell if he is playing or not by when he breaths in. Wow, I only had trumpet for one year in 5th grade, I'm surprized I remember that much.


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Subject: music on the metro
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 13 Apr 02 - 04:34 PM

allowing musicians to play on the metro: see article in Washington Post 12 April 2002


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: NELLIE
Date: 14 Apr 02 - 10:07 AM

Our daughter busks regularly, she plays the celtic harp (clarsach) and recorders. Mind you, this is in quiet, little Devon (England). She gets a lot of additional work from busking, ie. playing at parties etc. Some places you have to have a licence in England and others you are just allowed to play. Good buskers bring life and music to a town, even bad ones are trying!

Jenny


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 14 Apr 02 - 10:56 AM

There are good and bad buskers in the Washington DC/Baltimore area. I believe that, at least in some of this area, you have to obtain some form of permission. But, in parts of DC proper, this either may not be true, or they don't enforce it too heavily.

In the areas where it is necessary to get permission (Old Towne Alexandria, VA - Georgetown, DC - Inner Harbour, Baltimore), I have found that the talent is fairly uniform. They're all good, and it's definately pleasant, from my POV, but nothing outrageously alternative or uniquely creative.

In the areas where it doesn't seem as regulated, you get some real stinkers, but the good ones can be *really* interesting, and off the beaten path.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 14 Apr 02 - 05:18 PM

I'm fortunate to live in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Our buskers cover every possibly type of music. Oh, we get the usual spate of guitarplayers, but we also have sax players, Peruvian Music, Bluegrass, Blues and almost anything else you might want at any given time.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Pied Piper
Date: 15 Apr 02 - 06:34 AM

I've been making my living from busking and bookings for the past 15 years. I play Highland pipes and do ok, the secret is not to return to a place too often. For most places once a month is about right and that means having lots of locations if you want to work regularly. Lots of locations mean travel, and I cover the Manchester, Liverpool and West Yorkshire area by public transport. About 1/3 of my bookings come from contacts made while playing on the streets and I love it. I get very little mither from the police and wearing a plaid seems to keep the idiots at a safe distance. I once calculated that about 50,000 individual contributions were given to me in a year. That's a sizeable audience and I hope most of them gave because they enjoyed the music. All the best PP


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Chip2447
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 02:31 AM

I'm actually considering giving busking a go this summer here in the midwest. My Instrument of choice happens to be one that I dont thing I've ever seen as a busker... I'm gonna give it a whirl with, believe it or not...my ocarinas...
Go ahead now, you may laff if you wish.
Chip2447(a certified ocarina geek)


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 07:28 AM

Chip2447,

GO FOR IT!!!!!!!!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 12:32 PM

I have been talking to my son about summer jobs, and one idea I had was for him to do busking with his mandolin on Main Street (he's a good player at age 14). I called the local City business office to see if it was legal. They replied that it wasn't legal to play on the street for money, but knowing I was looking for something my 14 year old could do, the legal department brainstormed and suggested that he play at the Saturday morning Farmer's Market! Great idea! Since he is under 18 he doesn't have to get a business license. The market is held in the summer, staring in July, and has crowds of people who gather in a park under a covered pavilion.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jun 04 - 11:48 PM

I've been busking on and off for around 10 years. I was once walloped on the ear by a drunk who demanded I play something different, but other than that no particularly violent episodes.

One of the things I find annoying is BAD buskers. What do people think? Is the street an equitable free market where good buskers will make good money and lousy performers won't? I don't think so. I personally give money only to buskers I think are particularly good, but I wonder what motivates others?

For instance, several times I've recieved money before I've even started to play...does this mean they had spare change that they were going to give to a busker already and I was just the first one they saw? Why do YOU give money to buskers? And what do you give...does it depend on what's in your pocket or whether you feel poor that day or the weather or do you grade the busker and give them 50 cents per point or what?

Interesting thread...keep it going!


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GUEST,Laura Fenimore
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 05:25 PM

Whoa! YOu mentioned Tom Scribner, the musical saw player. He was my GRANDFATHER! We are collecting an archive of items for a museum display, and I was hoping those of you who have had personal encounters with him could send me your stories to be includeed in the historical synopsis. We would appreciate anything you send.

laura@lauracooper.com

Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 06:26 PM

I always look in on all the "Busking" threads, since I once spent a number of years trying to make a living at it, and I still appreciate the efforts of those who keep at it today. Well, most of them, anyway.

I just saw the reappearance of this thread, noted how very long ago it had been started, assumed that I had never seen it before, and started reading.

Lo and behold, there was my own (real) name, heading up MY VERY FIRST MUDCAT POST way back on February 5, 1998! That was long before I signed up as a member, certainly before I adopted my pseudonym. (Before I learned to enhance readability by inserting paragraph breaks, too.)

I don't really have anything to add, not having done any busking during the seven-years-plus since that message. All my streetsinging "war stories" are very old news!


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GlennOrange
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 08:18 PM

I'm a busker in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, and I do very well. I don't have a great voice, but I put a lot of energy into my performance and I REACH people. I've been told I suck before, but I really think I would do as well as I do if that were true.
       myspace.com/glennorange


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GUEST,Thomas McGee
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 12:37 PM

Been doing it in Galway for a while now. Mostly blues and rock i play. Average around 15euro an hour which isnt that poor and it improves you a lot. Find that lunch time or at night when drunk people are leaving the pubs the best time


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: meself
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 07:49 PM

One of my biggest thrills as a busker was reading this thread and finding myself (meself) being mentioned in someone's fond recollection: One Bob Landry (a good Maritime name) wrote on Date: 30 Jan 98 - 11:37 AM :

Every year, during the K-Days Exhibition in Edmonton, I work a shift selling Dream Home tickets for my Lions' club. In July/96, after finishing my shift at 11:pm, I walked into to subway station and encountered a Cape Breton-style fiddler accompanied by a banjo player. They had a spare guitar on the ground and I got permission to use it and join them. Cape Breton rhythms are in my blood and pretty soon we had people dancing down the hall on their way to the train. They threw fistfuls of coins into the open guitar case. We played until the last train had left and the security guards had to lock up. What a fun time! I have no idea how much money they made but I sure had fun and I'd do it again at the drop of a pick.


That fiddler was me meself. For a number of summers, I did the K-Days thing (a big urban carnival), often with my banjo-playing friend - and made a substantial amount of money, I must say. And had some good times, such as the one alluded to in Mr Landry's post from ten years ago ...


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GUEST,Tom Freebusker
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 03:22 AM

Wow! All these stories about busking! I'm a longtime Canadian busker. As happens from time to time, there are some changes going on the busking environment of the city I'm presently living in (Calgary). Calgary has no busking bylaw, and, as far as I know there hasn't been a busking problem. Now some bureaucrats are claiming to be opening up busking, while actually attempting to place new restrictions on busking (bloody spindoctors). Some buskers like the idea of rules, licensing, auditions, etc. because, I don't know, maybe they want to make more money, they don't like being confused with panhandlers, they need legitimization,...??

I noticed that buskers in Nanaimo are having a horrible time with their petty busking bureaucracy, and the tendency across the country is towards this sort of 'gentrification' of busking (city officials dream that their streets will be filled with tidy string quartets), and the replacement of busking with buskers festivals.

We're trying to organize/empower buskers with a facebook group with threads about busking in different cities, stories of victories over silly municipal busking regulation excesses, legal resources, exchanges about the wonder of free-spirited busking, etc.

It'd be just great if some of you buskers could join, share some of your experiences (especially effective protests, court victories, etc.) We have to stand up for freedom of expression in public space, not just for the sake of busking, but as it contributes to the possibility of a more real democracy and an open society!

Thanks,
Tom :)

Here's the link:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=50845400931


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: alanabit
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 07:22 AM

Another go at that link.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GUEST,pablo the wizzard
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 12:15 PM

if home is where the heart is then my home is in the street,i was given my first washtub bass in santa cruz ca.by what was destined to become the band of buzzards with robert amblade as the swaggering pyjama clad cowboy dowg, guitar patronne,and the fumblingly endearing nerotic picsean fiddle:guitar and songwriter scare crow, performed by micheal lewis and the fabulous inventive master gadjet master reggie miles (and still damp) the music that was formed at this time was of the value to mankind so great as to never be equaled anywhere any time. one song in particular given to the group was a poem penned by elan armstrong of santa cruz, was named Reprogress and hit the nail on the head with its cry in the widernes world view of the future,the buzzard experiance was wild camping in full view of half moon bay, the buzzards honned their act as if sharpening their talons and lay waste to santa cruz hitch hiking ensemble mind you full orchestration on I 5 and I 10 to hoplessly stuck, on i ten east bound when (i never pick up hikers but you guys)silverbear and his world famous bus patches stopped and we blew into quartzite arizona with the future in our stomachs and not much else,you want more? of course you do and maybe you dont but you'll have to wait cause (I got somthing to do)


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: LostHills
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 01:41 AM

According to Ramblin' Jack Elliott in the movie, Ramblin' Jack, "Busking comes from the Spanish word Buscar, which means "to seek..." I've busked in a number of places, from time to time, over the years. It's one of my favorite things to do. I've made a few bucks at it, beer money is all, but I'm just a folksinger and songwriter. Somebody always tells me that I need amplification. Seems like it would take some of the fun out of it, but the folks who are making money at it all seem to be amplified...


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GUEST,pablo the wizzard(captain of the ship of foo
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 01:31 PM

kat dumped us out on 101 south of santa cruz this was scare crow reggie and myselves,hitchhiking with our musicical tools and ultimatly ridiculous regards,giddy with the fear of our real situation, thumbing ensemble to new orleans,that is a long haul, any way you look at it I ten is no piece of cake reality hit with sunrise finding us 299 miles n. of l.a.that was a windy hawkish day and our rythym man was begining to wither, the black throat of the road made short work of our stamina but fate found us east of lalalala land sane? and safe, the mutterings of desent tumbled around my ears from the lewis half of the lewis and the miles Music circus my job became to fortifie my cohorts and keep reggie from tears, three oclock found activly discussed plans of abbandonment by the two of the principal actors in this little field trip, one was going to make an important phonecall to the leader of the jesuits for aid, the other was off to the nearest truckstop to play his fiddle for a steaming cuppa joe, me i just hung out one of my thumbs witch was two feet long from years of hitching down the highway and as the winds of I ten have done for me in the hardest of times i flagged down a ride,on the wildest lookin hippie bus ever seen driven by the sun the wind the moon and the stars themselves in the form of a human, destination the Quartzite gem and mineral show soon to be the lewis and the miles music circus'savior and prooving ground 50,000 people just milling around with out even a balloon clown, haw , you talk about gwyn on up t'hebn?ten days later found our heros fat and sassy pockets bursting with sou, driving , you got it buddy a BRAND NEW CAR pointed east to new orleans, that was 1980 jan,


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 02:46 PM

Good God, Pablo, just dump the instruments and busk as a poet. That's incredible writing.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: meself
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 03:35 PM

Not sure of the wisdom of busking as a poet vs musician - but otherwise agree completely. Although - and I don't mean to cramp your style - but the odd period or paragraph break or skipped line or something would get you more readers from one end of your post to the other on a forum like this - but if that's going to slow you down, don't bother; you can do the editing in your old age ....


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 09:39 PM

I agree with Jack...some awesome poetry there! Thanks for posting it. More, please?


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GUEST,pablo the wizzard (capt. of the ship of fool
Date: 20 Mar 10 - 12:41 PM

.there, i hope that punctuation satisfies your beast,yea, the one beating in your breast. to fully comprehend this phenomenone that was known as the MUSIC CIRCUS. i'm led to believe it was created in seattle washington round about the time cosmic cowboy dog and crow began playing with reggie miles there have been suggestions by kirston A.that herself along with others, using a variety of props and circusy jym-cracks formed a cute little group made of,(let me choose these word lightly,) music and bubbles and clown costumes, and adding, what i learned about it, its goal was nothing short of saving the world, not bad work if you can get it. i met cosmic cowboy dog in santa cruz where i had gone to devote my life to be comeing a wandering sage minstral, busker to you'ins, i thought it was a good idea to get some authentic california input into my rep.having my first attempt at busking (in front of a bakery in albany ny, on rte. two, direction hoosuc falls, where i got free donuts, some money, a girlfriend and some beer,) for playing, hey mister thats me up on the juke box., 14 times,on a mandolin no less,the sky clouded over, and the crowd on pacific garden mall hunkered off,then like some pyjama clad gunslinger appeared c-dog. i had heard of these type's of North West theme hippies before with their zithers and raybans, this giant of countless arrays of songs in every corner of his brain , i was irradiated,ameiliorised, flabbered and gasted too!here before me was a living legend of my own cloth he spoke, to me , i handed my guitar to him a takamine twelve string solid mohagahny arched back,(added) shaller tuning machines, he sniffed, i deficated,my stalwart washboard player burstout laughing and so it was, c dog was no camper but as time unfolded there in jan luby land and tom noddy land and that decrepid saw player land ,i began to learn songs from( this cat seems to be cool) c.dog and the tale of the mighty crow began to caw-caws my imagination to over work? c dogs rep was brilliant the buskers song is priceles,hiroshima naw-gah-socki russion roulette, the old wino song, wow, bound for ketchacan, brilliant and these crow mystical crow songs the list was expansive and c dog never seemed to tire,oh yeah tires the brand new car i spoke of was in fact a 13 year old push button belvediere station wagon navaho blue,if you don't say


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: meself
Date: 06 May 10 - 03:43 PM

Somehow I missed the last until now - how 'bout the next instalment?


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: reggie miles
Date: 06 May 10 - 09:00 PM

Hokey smokes Pablo! Everybody's been wonderin' what happened to you. Get in touch! I'm at -

reggiemiles at gmail dot com

I'm certain Artis and Crow would like to know you're around and still able to communicate.

meself, you may not hear back from Pablo in the next 30 years. It's been about that long since last we met and played together in The Music Circus, aka The Buzzards, aka The Street Buzzards, aka, and the final rendition, The Space Buzzards. I'm surprised that he'd surface after wandering so long away and apart.

One of Pablo's band mates, after he parted from our company and started his own trio, lives nearby and I bump into him at various events. He's not even heard this much in as many years. It'll be interesting to share this with the remnants of that flock.

We've all gone our separate ways from those long ago days of sleepin' in the bushes on the sides of the road, on top of the exhaust vents of city skyscrapers or sneaking onto overgrown hillsides to establish our own little hobo paradise. We stepped up to the plate to play together on as many streets as there were to play and even had some fun in places where only the crickets could hear us.

I posted one of my early recollections here a long time ago when I first visited this place and have penned a few more of the adventures but nothing written down or told as tales could really hold a candle to the life we led. It was right out of some smoky fantasy, like a hazy dream only dreamed of by the many who settle back and enjoy carefully planned lives. We took the big dare and stepped out on the road with our thumbs pointed skyward and everything we needed in a backpack or an instrument case. We tracked the snowbirds south to their lairs in the deep desert and made our way on to the voodoo queens to the Deep South to spare change the French Quarter and Mardi Gras. It was a helluva thrill ride.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GUEST,Street Mama Blues
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 10:57 AM

The Wizard still reigns?


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: GUEST,Street Mama Blues
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 11:03 AM

wholelottablues@sbcglobal.net


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: ollaimh
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 07:37 PM

i've busker on and off for almost forty years now. i did vancouver toronto , the west coast of the usa, britian france ireland and east europe back under the communist regime.

it can be fun, you get away from "the man" as a boss and do what you want, especially of you have an act that draws well. there are problems, boy i could write a book. there are local buskers who think they own the street, there are bullying cops and shop owners, there are bureaucrats who set up rules that suck the life out of the profession==as in the toronto subway syatem right now, and robberies. i once had a guy rob my hat and i called him a &*&^ theif and he came back with a gun--in toronto. unfortunately you just have to take it as the odds are if you call the police they will find a way to blame the busker. had a guy break a finger in a robery attempt and even had a guy punch my mandolin so the top split.

however, over all if you are free spirit with few pretensions its great fun and at times allows you to travel a lot. you meet lots of people every new town. in eastern europe in the seventies i would make nothing but met wvery musician in town and got free places to stay and lots of parties. and often they would do black market deas using you to buy stuff they couldn't and you get a bit of cash to keep body and soul together, and were those czech and polish girls beautiful.

i did it in the seventies in london as well. they money could be bad but i lived first in a squat house with a cast of characters from finnish dope dealers to a cuban political activist(untill it burned down) then on a river boat near battersea bridge. last year i went down there and the boats were still there but very up market!!! we paid forteen pounds a month split three ways for moorage when i was there, in a place so small you had to curl up sleeping, but we were free. i still wonder why the cops never visited us. they had to have seen the parties, but i guess as we had no complaints they had bigger fish to fry.

on the west coast i lived in a van and travelled for three or four years, in two streches. i loved it. there were people al over the place who would put you up for a few days then move on, and always happy to see you come by again, i always figured tree days was the limit, how will they miss you if you don't go away?

vancouver had some great years in the ninties(i'm the harpist who used to play there back then) and also toronto up tp about four years ago.

in vancouver i traded in my van for the last cheap apartment on commercial drive and easily made enough mobey to live modestly but comfortably in about two weeks a month, then read meditated , and hit the coffee joints for a wekk or two then back to work. the money slowed down in the laster ninties but early on it was easy street.

the ultimate thing a long term busker has to keep to is what dylan said"to live out side the law you must be honest". you can't play games or mistreat others . buskers have to social status nor protection, your good will has to be you protection. there are always people who are jealous or angry at your freedom you have to smile and move on. of you let those things stick to you they will ruin your busking.

the buskers with attitude don't last or go crazy.

so i loved it , and i have three university degrees, i hated the suits i had to work with before. the most narrow minded and bigoted people i ever met. its no wonder the world is going to hell in a hand cart, but its not buskers who are pushing the hand cart,

finally, busker festivals--ugh, ugh, ugh. they aRE A NEW SCAM TO HAVE A FESTIVAL AND NOT PAY THE MUSICIANS. THERE ARE NO BUSKERS AT BUSKER FESTIVALS, JUST PEOPLE WHO DO BUSKER FESTIVALS. THEORGANIZERS GET PAID AND ALL THE MERCHANTS AND SECURITY, BUT NOT THE MUSICIANS. DON'T SUPPORT THIS NEW BOURGEOIS SCAM TO HAVE ECONOMIC ACTIVITY BUT NOT PAY THE ARTISTS, THE BOURGEOUSE COME UP WITH NEW WAYS TO NOT PAY THE ARTISTS EVERY GENERATION , THIS IS JUST THE LASTEST


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: meself
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 12:53 PM

Let's hope it is the "LASTEST"! I'm with you, man; you've got'er nailed.


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Subject: RE: Street Musicians, Buskers?
From: DHonemanband
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 06:28 PM

Lots of great and interesting thoughts/ideas/discussion in this thread! Also a very long running thread.

Might as well throw in my own bit here...
I've been a busker since 1977 in Victoria BC. I make my living almost exclusively from it. Victoria is a tourist town so there are always new people arriving; good turnover helps buskers. Over the years there have been many changes in rules and licensing but it remains a basically busker friendly environment. I've done the full group thing (up to nine piece) but mostly I like being a one man band, which is a popular busking format. I've had a hand at folk/rock (Neil/Dylan etc), Celtic (I play fiddle & mandolin too), country, bluegrass, rock, swing but mostly use blues as my basic style now. I've found that all styles attract some portion of the populace but for me blues gets me going the most, which translates into an audience and remuneration. I mix in other genres as I feel and take a few requests (having a large repertoire can be a big plus). I love what I do and I think people pick up on that.

We are about to experience Victoria's second crack at a Busker Festival this coming summer. It was tried in the 90's and failed (bad weather, overinflated budget). I have to agree somewhat about the issues of playing for free at a Festival. I play the odd Folk Festival and am always well paid. Why should a Busker Festival be so different? The organizers promote the idea that thousands will flood the city to support the buskers. This is obviously not quite the case. The local buskers here aren't being invited; we are expected to be in support but aren't included. Having said that, I wouldn't want to be a part of something for free anyway. I only hope it won't negatively impact on my livelihood (of course it is being put on during peak season). We'll see I guess...

Well, no real big illuminating thoughts there, just wanted to post in this great thread!


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