Right now, I don’t think I could ever go busking again. I had tried though… Once.
It was many, many years ago before I started learning to play guitar. I was still just playing clarinet at the time and one afternoon I thought it would be a good idea to catch the bus into the city, go to Rundle Mall and start busking, playing some pieces from a book called 101 Songs For Buskers (the Bb Clarinet version of course).
I thought I was doing ok until I started getting seriously hassled out by this one guy who for some reason, thought it would be funny to interrupt me at any given opportunity whilst trying to steal whatever money I had made in the short time I was busking.
As I was 14 at the time I had no idea how to handle such a person and apart for some passersby who came to my defence, I got really, really freaked out and after about 30 minutes or so of being hassled, I just packed up my stuff and got out of the there as fast as I could vowing never to busk again.
So much for being spontaneous I thought…
(Fast forward to the present day) I know a few musicians through running Open Mics around Adelaide who make some sort of a living busking around town and I think they are the bravest souls around, especially the ones who busk at night.
While striking up a conversation about busking with these musicians they always ask me why I haven’t done it myself.
I answer them by saying that for me, busking is not an environment that I feel comfortable in because you’re far too exposed to randomness, chance and the idiots that will inevitably want to spoil your performance (I don’t tell them about my bad experience all those years ago, they don’t need to hear that).
I’d rather play in a more formalised environment such as a pub or club where you have some sort of control over the performance. To my amazement the reply I get is that they would rather busk because of the freedom it gives them and that performing at a venue is too restrictive and not a comfortable environment for them.
I suppose you’re either a busker or you’re not and right now I’m definitely part of the latter group. I guess it depends on whether your ideal performance is carried out in an exposed environment or in a structured one.
You’re probably asking yourself “why am I writing about busking?” Well, I was reminded of my experience through stumbling across a website called The Buskers Guide and in it is a series of articles about busking in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide and it got me thinking…
“Could I give busking another go?”
With the advent of busking licenses, busking auditions and councils having more by-laws and regulations concerning buskers and busking maybe the environment is a little bit more structured and safer than it was 30 years ago.
Giving busking another go is an interesting concept for me to grapple with because I do want to get back out and perform and I want to eventually venture outside of South Australia and busking would be a great way to add to the touring income. I realise that by being too scared to busk I am cutting myself off of many gigging opportunities.
Before I make any decisions I need to find out more about what today’s busking environment looks like and websites like The Buskers Guide is a pretty good place to start.
Maybe I need to unshackle myself from routine a bit, gain some artistic freedom in my life and live a little. Should I give it a go and see what happens?
What has been your experiences busking? Feel free to contact me and let me know. Let’s start a conversation about this.