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Busking and Humility

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Bull Am 14 Sep 02 - 06:35 AM
Amos 14 Sep 02 - 12:27 PM
Clinton Hammond 14 Sep 02 - 12:30 PM
greg stephens 14 Sep 02 - 01:25 PM
Genie 14 Sep 02 - 09:04 PM
Mudlark 14 Sep 02 - 11:30 PM
alanabit 15 Sep 02 - 05:56 AM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Sep 02 - 09:56 AM
Allan Dennehy 15 Sep 02 - 10:04 AM
greg stephens 15 Sep 02 - 10:27 AM
Jim Krause 15 Sep 02 - 05:06 PM
Stephen L. Rich 15 Sep 02 - 07:40 PM
greg stephens 15 Sep 02 - 07:50 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Sep 02 - 08:10 PM
Bull Am 16 Sep 02 - 06:52 AM
Dave Bryant 16 Sep 02 - 10:25 AM
breezy 16 Sep 02 - 02:40 PM
alanabit 16 Sep 02 - 02:47 PM
Bull Am 16 Sep 02 - 05:09 PM
greg stephens 16 Sep 02 - 06:42 PM
Genie 16 Sep 02 - 07:38 PM
katlaughing 17 Sep 02 - 04:06 AM
Bull Am 17 Sep 02 - 07:07 AM
greg stephens 17 Sep 02 - 07:11 AM
greg stephens 17 Sep 02 - 07:13 AM
alanabit 17 Sep 02 - 07:19 AM
alanww 17 Sep 02 - 08:11 AM
Peter T. 17 Sep 02 - 11:53 AM
greg stephens 17 Sep 02 - 04:24 PM
Bull Am 18 Sep 02 - 07:38 AM
Amos 18 Sep 02 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,MrBlue 02 Aug 10 - 11:42 AM
GUEST,bardan 02 Aug 10 - 04:55 PM
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Subject: Busking and Humility
From: Bull Am
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 06:35 AM

I've been busking pretty regularly here in Rennes, France, especially over the past few weeks. I had a discussion with a friend of mine last night where he explained why he hates playing in the street in Rennes, where the people aren't as apt to show respect, are more likely to pass by without even looking twice, etc. My point of view is that even on the worst days, when you scream and pluck your heart out for the equivalent of five dollar, even then, it is good exercise, it is good practice, it is going for a jog performance wise. Plus, one is forced to focus in the face of apathy, and one learns to concentrate despite adverse circumstances. At the very least, it's good for humility and perseverence. I was wondering what other folkies thought of the darker side of busking; are there moments where y'all feel like giving up, like you're underappreciated, etc. If so, what's the alternative? Even on the worst days, I still make 5 euros more than I would've just staying home, and I have some experience to bring away with me as well...


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Subject: RE: BS: Busking and Humility
From: Amos
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 12:27 PM

That's the ticket, Bull. There will always be people who think songs are better left unsung. Be very glad you are not one of them!!

Of course, ifyou are actually screaming your songs rather than singing them in their own space and time, it may be you are reducing your revenue stream. But I guess that was just a figure of speech?

Seriously, man, perseverance, focus and doing it for your own good and sufficient reasons is the key.

Nunc. :>)


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Subject: RE: BS: Busking and Humility
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 12:30 PM

Humility is for the weak!

LOL!!!

,-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Busking and Humility
From: greg stephens
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 01:25 PM

Try Vannes. It's better.


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Subject: RE: BS: Busking and Humility
From: Genie
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 09:04 PM

Hey, Bull,
Good on ya for keeping at it! And don't worry too much if passersby ignore you -- wait till you try playing in a bar sometime! *BG*

Genie


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Subject: RE: BS: Busking and Humility
From: Mudlark
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 11:30 PM

Bull...I've never tried busking directly (tho I have had a few dollars thrown into my guitar case while whiling away the time at a craft fair playing) but with your positive attitude I'm sure you are learning a lot...on a variety of levels.

I've had the same lack of attention from people who have asked me to play! Humbling aint in it!


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Subject: RE: BS: Busking and Humility
From: alanabit
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 05:56 AM

Humility certainly is not for the weak! I hope you were being tongue in cheek there, Clinton Hammond. The good ones I have seen never need to assert themselves before their colleagues. Their work does the talking. Personally, I did always feel that I was failing if I failed to get a crowd. If you don't stumble on the ways to do that yourself, watching a few old pros will give you some ideas. There are buskers who can make money from "passing", but I have always found that less satisfying. The willingness to keep at it when people ignore you at first is important, but I would be thinking a step ahead and asking myself, "What will make them stop and listen?" Keep the thread going and see if we can get some input from Steve Rich and InObu.


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Subject: RE: BS: Busking and Humility
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 09:56 AM

The problem for buskers is that, if peole stop and listen, that's liable to be seen as obstruction, and a signal for the authorities to move them on. If the people keep passing there are fewer putting in money, but more chance of being able to keep playing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Busking and Humility
From: Allan Dennehy
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 10:04 AM

You have my sympathy Bull Am. When the going gets tough, the tough get going and I'm sure that you will come out of this a better musician. Playing in public will hone your skill in some areas that one can never learn in a practice room. Have you talked and compared things with some other local buskers? There might be a couple of tips there. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: BS: Busking and Humility
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 10:27 AM

Perseverance is always important. It's often very thin for the first while that youre playingand then it starts to come. People often often walk past you the first time, because theyare in a hurry, or havent got their head round stopping and listening to music. But they often come back down the same street in a bettermood an hour later, when theyve done the shopping or had the tooth out.
And its always like fishing. Some days they are all biting, some days you dont get a tickle.And try plenty of different corners, and different towns, and different times of day. What's right for you takes a lot of experience to find out. Anyway, it's always good to be paidto practise! And it trains you to get up in the morning. In most towns, the prime time for busking is before the average layabout musician has started crawling around looking for the cleanest pair of socks.


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Subject: RE: BS: Busking and Humility
From: Jim Krause
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 05:06 PM

All the busking experience I've ever had was opening up my fiddle case and playing at the local Farmers' Market. At first, I didn't hardly make much worth counting. But the next season I think the word got out that there was this fiddler downtown playing at the Market. Tips got better. And I discovered that Saturday mornings were the richest pickings of all. People used to stop me on the street and ask if I would be returning to Farmers' Market next year. I learned from my experience that longevity is the important factor in how much you take in. The longer you play at a certain location, the more recoginzable you'll become, and you'll develop something of a following, so to speak.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 07:40 PM

Busking is, at once, the most ego gratifying and humbling experience that a musician can have. Club work rarely has the extreme highs and lows that one finds on the streets. Keep it up, Bull. It's worth it!


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 07:50 PM

Some of the most interesting gigs andd contacts I've acquired have come from playing in the street. It's worth putting up with the lows, thehighs are indeed great.


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 08:10 PM

Busking for queues used to be a big thing, but I don't seem to have come across it much recently. Maybe there aren't the right sort of queues.


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: Bull Am
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 06:52 AM

After a week busking almost every day, I have seen the illustrations of the highs and lows discussed. Sometimes I just feel like I'm singing for myself, which is fine, because it's good practice, it's good for projection, and it's a good way to memorize new tunes. Sometimes, though, I attract a small crowd, and several times there have been local musicians who've stopped and talked to me. I love being out in the open air among other people, and I love the element of people watching as well. Oh, and Amos, I'm not literally screaming, but I'm trying my best to project...


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 10:25 AM

Don't be too humble when you're busking. It's rather like "bottling" (collecting money from the public). Always start with the idea that the entertainment that you are providing is well worth their contributions. Don't be afraid to make eye contact. Smile when appropriate and try and look confident - try and give the same comitment to your busking that you would if you playing a concert.


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: breezy
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 02:40 PM

Some excellent points.
Longevity at a location helps, in this case 32 years and 15 years! in 2 towns.
It is an education about people from all walks of life.
It makes me realise how few people know about 'folk' and contemporary songs, then gratifying when one person listens to a whole meaningful lyric.
Often its a'sound' not a song that works.
I blame the lack of awareness about songs and singing on the failing of our educational system, music is missing.
I refuse to pamper to the popular taste as I see it as shallow but there is no doubt the playing of something 'known' is more readily accepted.
But I'm buggered if I'm going to spend all day singing 'American Pie, Mr Tamb'r'n Man and Streets of L etc but I will sing 'Athenry' and 'Wild Rover'
Dont force it, and avoid busy areas.!
The warmest people are often the ones who you can empathise with and they with you.
If you are crap you'll make a little.
Dont those classical types out of music college make you sick!
Friday night Blu Anchor
bye


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: alanabit
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 02:47 PM

Plenty of good sense coming out here - particularly from Dave Bryant. I can add that if you "salt" your case, throw in larger denominations of money (at least one and two Euro). You are worth Euros rather than cents. When you bottle, always start with the folks whom you think are most likely to give you money. Then the others are likely to cough up too. Bottling is an art in itself. You'll learn!


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: Bull Am
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 05:09 PM

It's funny popular tastes can change according to country. Yes, there are universals..."Cecilia", "Wild World", etc. And I get fed up with those pretty quickly. But I tell you, there is something mysterious about "Dirty Old Town". Today, I said to myself, "today you will not play that song", but things were slow and I folded. well, right after I finished, a girl approached and said something like, "I really like that song and that's why I'm giving you something". Ugh... Eye contact, smiles, saying "Merci beaucoup" is essential. Oh, and small children bring in a lot as well. They are constantly amazed and mystified. Teens respond well to me for some reason. Today, there was a group of four or five teenage boys who sat next to where I was playing, drank coffee, chatted, smoked cigarettes, and donated generously. I love the feeling of buying my dinner at the end of a long day and saying to myself, "I sang and strummed for this meal". It's glorious, it's magic....


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 06:42 PM

Are you stuck in Rennes, Bull Am? I should move around a little if you have the opportunity. Vannes, Lorient, St Malo, Roscoff,Dinard. or small places.Busking's a great chance to pay foryour travel and see different things (dont miss the stones at Karnac). And then when you get to the age of 57 you can bore the arse of youngsters by boasting about all the places you've been. Anyway, trouble with Rennes, it's inland. The sea is the big thing in Brittany.


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: Genie
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 07:38 PM

Breezy, You asked "Dont those classical types out of music college make you sick!"

They sure do. How dare some of 'em play so good when they ain't even dry behind the ears?!

That may apply to our friend Bull Am, too, o' course.

(Bull, maybe the teens respond so well to you partly because it hasn't been that long since you were one. *BG*)

Genie


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Sep 02 - 04:06 AM

Great thread, thanks all!


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: Bull Am
Date: 17 Sep 02 - 07:07 AM

My relative greeness may indeed be a factor in attracting the youngsters... I have made it out to certain points on the coast, but the trouble with many of the smaller towns now is that one has to go to the mairie to buy a permit to busk, or something ridiculous like that. I am sort of stuck here in Rennes, as well...ho hum...Life is tough without a vehicular mode of transport. But, of course, there is always the trains...


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: greg stephens
Date: 17 Sep 02 - 07:11 AM

Pshaw, what kind of busker are you. No vehicular mode of transport indeed. Got a thumb havent you? I can tell you, lad, in my day we didnt even have clogs but we still manged to blah blahblah blah dribbles a bit.


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: greg stephens
Date: 17 Sep 02 - 07:13 AM

Furthermore, stop playing with your computer and get out to work.


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: alanabit
Date: 17 Sep 02 - 07:19 AM

I quite liked those places where you had to get a permit. The main reason for them is to clear the streets of beggars. That is to your advantage, because it puts clear blue water between them and you - so you make more money. I quite envy your style of doing it Greg, but I reckon that the next time I hit the busking trail - if it ever happens again - a nicely kitted out bus (with sleeping and cooking facilities will do).


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: alanww
Date: 17 Sep 02 - 08:11 AM

I am a learner busker myself, playing the concertina rather than singing (which I am better known for!), and I have only been out a few times so far. But I have taken the time to speak to two experienced musicians, one a classical violinist who busked all over Europe as his main income and the other a folk concertina player, who has tried all over the UK. They gave me a lot of tips:-

stand rather than sit, even when playing the concertina;
don't show that you are well off (no gold necklaces, Gucci shoes or the latest mobile phone) but don't dress in tatters either;
look as if you are enjoying it, seek eye contact and look friendly;
play the more upbeat or well know tunes in your repertiore when you have the biggest audience;
position yourself at pinch points so that the public cannot walk on the other side of the road;
have your back to a wall or where you can get the sound to carry;
avoid too outlandish clothes (you don't want the public to think you are an aged hippy and that you would immediately spend their money on booze or drugs!);
the best takings are in smaller market towns rather than the big cities where the public will associate you with the beggers they often see;
don't place yourself where there is a very big flow of people but you do need a steady flow, of course;
unless you have a big circus type act don't concentrate on the big shows in the major tourist spots (the competion can be too fierce!)
do hour long shows rather than longer as the local traders will get fed up, no matter how good you are (and so will you)
mornings are better than afternoons and after 3pm can be dismal
evenings are worth a try in the summer when people are out promenading
stick at it!

"I can laugh, dance and sing ..."
Alan


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: Peter T.
Date: 17 Sep 02 - 11:53 AM

A check on the Forum search will reveal all kinds of threads on Busking, with lots of advice. The only advice I have as a consumer is that the people I most often give money to are people that sing or play something that is relevant or fits the mood of the place they are in. Standing in Paris playing Beatle songs will, I guess, get you some tourist money; but I have given big money to people playing well chosen Paris songs in Paris just because it was so perfect: it made the mood that much better. It may bore the crap out of Parisians, but you play Edith Piaf to me on a bridge over the Seine, and I am yours. Same is true in London, New York,Quebec City, etc.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: greg stephens
Date: 17 Sep 02 - 04:24 PM

(UK only) useful tip: head for Boots. They had agood eye in the past for picking psycholgically good shop sites, and the odds are somewhere near there is where you want to be playing. And always hide the coppers in the fiddle case. They give a verybad impression. A nice bit of cloth in the fiddle case is good for collecting, and you tuck the coppers underneath the cloth after evry couple of numbers. And dont change the coppers right away. Take them home and keep themin a big pot. Only change them when a third reminder bill comes, or when you're down to one tin of tomatoes and some three year old dried beansthat you bought in a health shop.


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: Bull Am
Date: 18 Sep 02 - 07:38 AM

Peter T It's true that finding tunes that fit the location is essential, but one would be surprised how often english songs work wonders...There are so many French beatles fans (well, Europe in general can boast a large number), and the fact that you're singing in English without an accent is a draw as well...


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: Amos
Date: 18 Sep 02 - 09:09 AM

Hey, Bull -- keep that pecker up!!

Proud of yuh, boy!! Damn proud!!

Love,


Uncle


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: GUEST,MrBlue
Date: 02 Aug 10 - 11:42 AM

One of the greatest beauties of busking, is that you are able to get a response of some kind from EVERY SINGLE PERSON that knows you are there, and real. Crossing the road in order to pass you with much distance from you, is a reation, a response. Or pretending to get a phone call, or just looking straight ahead or at their watch and hurrying on with an air of importance. It's also a reaction, a response. At this, you can congratulate yourself on NOT being someone like this, at the very least.
The kid dancing, is a wonderful thing, worth more than money at that moment you think about packing up. Kids are a wonderful judge of character, and quality.
A button frequently pressed, on a busker, is the ol' chestnut of watching the busker, tapping your feet, and what's more, so you can take the experience home, whipping out your iphone and capturing 4 min of footage of it, and then cruising off having given nary a brass razoo. Well, it yanks my chain too, but this is always going to happen and the worst thing a busker can do is let it affect her/him.
Many people watching buskers and street performers are tourists. They may not have a grasp of the etiquette that may stand in your neck of the woods, and it's hard to blame them, it's what they know, (or don't)

Humility is in many ways, the very root of busking. Having said that, humility, and busking, and street performing, is not at all for the weak, but rather the very strong.


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Subject: RE: Busking and Humility
From: GUEST,bardan
Date: 02 Aug 10 - 04:55 PM

the biggest tip I can give you is not to act like the guy I met who tried a new tuning on his mandolin every day and was "influenced by indian trance music". It's probably advice you don't need though.

On a serious note though. Go for individuality. There's thousands of people out there playing guitars and singing. For people to choose you, you need to stand out from the crowd in some way. (That's why people who play the pipes or the harp or the dulcimer or something can make bucketloads of money sometimes-aside from being talented players of course which does matter too.)

Small towns are often better than cities but the money tends to dry up after a couple of days. Times people go out and are more or less generous can vary quite a lot from place to place, but a lot of it's common sense. Eg, spaniards and italians stay up later and even more so in summer etc.


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