The Power to Travel
Stepping into a life of a full time busker/musician, gives you a lot of freedom on where you work. I love it because I can just jump in the car (or on a train/bus) and just go somewhere! Anywhere! – that’s physically possible to get to via roads/public transport/walking. And I can go play someplace new, providing I make enough to cover traveling expenses and to grab food, (which 9 times out of 10 happens) I’m fine for a day trip out, which means I can explore a new place, meet new people and see other buskers. I’ve met buskers who do just this and have traveled further – Europe. The adventures they’ve had are just incredible, a ‘must do’, so a European busking road trip is definitely on my ‘busking bucket list’ – of which currently includes UK spots – Bristol, Brighton, Cardiff, Liverpool and more (If you know of good places to busk in the UK! Tell me!). London is on that list, which I have recently visited – more on that below!
Previous to making the decision to become a busker full time I spent a lot of time researching. Leading me to documentaries such as – No Tricks and Busking for Berlin (The story of ‘The Neigh Kid Horse’). Both inspiring me massively as they provide a very close informative look into – life as a busker, showing the potential of what busking can bring. I recommend these both as they’re generally very interesting and entertaining.
Busker Dub FX who I’ve been following for many years, a massive inspiration, bought a van one day with his girlfriend and traveled Europe, living entirely from busking, check out the performance I’ve linked – it’s crazy how many people he’s got gathered for the show. Each day they discovered many new things and encountered many challenges such as weeks of constant rain, which lead them to being stuck in the van! – rain – what a pain that can cause. Now I do love rain, but it can be a right nightmare when you want to spend a good day out busking. And it’s raining. Heavy. And relentlessly. I’ve busked out in the rain, as there’s a few spots I go where there’s shelter, but it’s a difficult one as gear can get wet and a lot of people are running around trying not to get too wet. It’s still possible to go out and busk in it, and I suppose a lot of people appreciate the fact that you’re out providing music even in such weather. But it’s just not a preferred situation to be in. On the odd occasion I’ve sat in the car reading, writing or playing, waiting for the rain to settle down, here’s a video of me doing that. Car Gig – event idea? – wouldn’t fit much of an audience in though..
So with this power to travel, I took a road trip down to London! Having a close friend down their too, meant I had the chance to see her and watch her band – Norrell and the Dub Factory – perform their debut single release show. Hearing a lot about London busking I thought it’d be quite an interesting adventure and if all went well it could be a regular occurrence.
During the release show I met Drummer – ‘Emanuele Marchetti’, who I had a lovely conversation with about grooving and busking. Having previously busked in London with a few bands, Emanuele was very interested in having a jam! So on the Sunday we met up and busked together – street jams! – picture below of our spot on ‘Oxford Circus’.
We played a lot of groove stuff, working around some cool shuffles and funk based riffs, funking up theme tunes like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. It was a completely different vibe to what I normally busk solo, which is quite mellow, but it was still great fun playing and people reacted very well to it! We had a lot of people dancing especially towards the later session we did around 6pm. Being it quite a busy part of London, there must of been thousands walking past, quite fast, the people that seemed to enjoy it most would slow down when they were close, boogie a little, take a picture or something and drop us a coin. There was this one lovely woman who filmed us for ages, panning around us, doing close ups with her phone for at least like 10 minutes, she then asked us a bunch of questions and told us about how her Dad was a drummer who’ll love watching this back, dropped us a £10, carried on watching, then joined in the crazy flow of traffic.
As well as Oxford Circus, I busked Brixton – cover photo from the spot I performed. It was a lovely spot, the sun created some beautiful colours, and there were loads of chairs scattered about the place so people could comfortable sit down and watch. It also seemed to be a skateboarding hot-spot, as throughout the time I was there, there was an increase in skaters, starting from about 2, ending with about 20. It created this really cool scene, almost like a flash mob/pop up event of music and skating, it attracted a lot of attention and loads of photographers were taking pictures, and a crowd emerged, I wish I took some photos/videos myself, but I’ll have to wait to hear from the photographers! I’ve got an audio recording of the session, which has this background ambience of skateboards, it sounds quite cool with them panning around, I’ll have to upload them soon!
Most people who enjoy my music will throw a few coins in, notes sometimes. But whilst I was in Brixton, I was given more than just a few coins, I was given food. Some guy with a very strong London accent stood watching me for a while, he came over and dropped a few coins, “Yous reminds me of Stanley Clarke mate! I like it, a different approach to bass”. We started talking more about bass and what players inspire me, where I’m from, how long I’ve been playing etc. A very friendly guy, who then bought a CD from me and walked away, “Cheers mate, have a good session, lovely day for it”. I started playing another tune, and he came back, “What choo eating for tea tonight mate?”, a bit confused by this question, as it almost sounded like a date offer, I replied, “I’m staying at a friends, so we’re probably gonna cook some food at hers, pasta or something. Why?”. He then rummaged through his bags, and pulled out some beef strips, rice noodles and a stir-fry sauce, and dropped them in my bass case, “Here ya go mate, have ya self a stir-fry. On me! Feeling a bit crazy today. My wife will probably be annoyed, but enjoy mate!”. He smiled and walked away. He gave me food! and not just any food, M&S food!
Being a Vegan I gave the beef to my friend who’s place I was staying at during my London visit, and with the noodles and sauce we made a mighty vegetable stir-fry (Portobello mushrooms, aubergines, courgettes, chickpeas, peppers, broccoli + many herbs + all the spice – ahh I love food!). It was a pretty cool thing having food given to you when you play, I’ve had people give me tea before which is pretty cool, “You bass man! How do you have your tea?!”, some guy shouted at me once poking his head out of a Greggs whilst playing on a high street, “Black, one sugar!”, minutes later I had a lovely warm tea in my hands – it’s great! Tea is definitely an essential whilst busking during colder seasons!
This food donation thing, happened again whilst busking in Kidderminster. Look!
I got poppets! Someone walked past, dropped them in and wished me a Merry Christmas! – a good day, I sold a bunch of CD’s as well!
A Busking Tip – From Nan
“As long as you have a bass guitar and belief, you’ll be fine” – My Nan.
And she’s right, as long as I keep playing, have a bass guitar and believe in myself I’ll be fine. You can apply this to any busking art – as long as you work hard at your craft, commit yourself to your art and believe in what you are doing then you have nothing to worry about!
Thank you for following my website and reading this post!
Please feel free to comment below, share your busking stories and any advice on busking you may have! I’d love to connect with more buskers and learn more about the art!
All the best! Thank you again!
Stick around for more solo bass busking adventures, videos and music! 😀