Thursday, August 27, 2009

Support your local busker!

The incomparable Diane Patterson
Busk: To play music or perform entertainment in a public place, usually while soliciting money. - The Free Dictionary
Anyone who lives in or frequents any major population center is no doubt familiar with the sight: someone, usually but not always a young person, standing on a street corner or under a portico winding a sax, or beating a drum, or hammering a guitar and belting out a tune.

Buskers, roving minstrels, street performers, have existed throughout history. Tales abound of traveling musicians earning their daily bread by entertaining. And, if you ask me, that's honest pay for honest work.

Buskers at the Oregon Country Fair...
Living in a somewhat "hip" part of Portland, I often encounter buskers just down the block from my house, on Hawthorne Boulevard. Some are better than others, for sure. But I've tried my own hand at busking, and it takes lot of courage and determination to get out there and do it. Anyone that has the guts to lay it on the line to a bunch of mostly disinterested passers-by has my admiration.

...on Hawthorne Boulevard,
But there are a lot of very talented buskers. I've seen street performances that are every bit as passionate and intricate as anything that one might witness in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Try to tell me that some manufactured phenomenon like Britney Spears has anything at all on artists like Diane Patterson or Jim Page and I'm afraid we're just going to have to agree to disagree.

in Barcelona...
When I'm out walking around the neighborhood and I see a busker putting his or her soul out there, I'll stop and give a listen. If I like what I hear, I'll drop some change into the hat. Or, if I really like what I hear, I'll buy a CD, if the busker has one to sell. And if I don't especially like what I hear, I'll at least give a smile and a thumbs-up. As a musician, I know that every musician lives for validation.

Buskers are not panhandlers, people. They provide a service. If you enjoy what you're hearing, don't be shy... let them know you appreciate it.

and in Bergen, Norway.
Support your local busker!

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Buskers are amazing. They dare to entertain in the middle of the street. In NYC there are many, especially in the subway. It makes waiting for a train much nicer. My favorite is the 'Saw Lady' who plays the musical saw at the Union Square station. She keeps a blog where she tells what happens when she plays in th4e subway: