|A VILLAGE SELFIE THROUGH THE GLASS|
Being a busker means fitting into one of Leo Tolstoy’s two stories, a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. Oh do I hate that journey metaphor! But oh do I love that road theme! Factoid: Being the busker on the journey could, indeed, be the same stranger who comes to town.
If you are thinking you’d love to be a busker, are thinking of going on a journey, or thinking you’d love to be that stranger who comes to town, I’ve a few tips. Dear wannabee busker, these tips might turn your Walter Mitty moments into being your reality.
- DECIDE YOUR PLAYLIST …
If you decide to be a guitar busker you need to develop a strategic playlist of sorts, or should I say a practice list. When I am out busking I am always practicing my original songs, which I compose and rehearse at my buskspot. This is my habit. When busking, I’m paid to practice! I must confess, mind you, that practicing original songs is in that ilk of poetasters reciting doggerel at public speakers’ corners.
Factoid: Your passer-by consumers will not distinguish between a practice and polished performance. Even as a lyricaster (an inferior songwriter), no one will be critical of your original songs.
Meanwhile back to the drawing board … Portrait busking, with my sketchpad and pencil I am still getting paid to practice. With every visage I pencil improves my speed and skill for creating a likeness. To put this into perspective, the second portrait I drew was better than the first, and a thousand sketches later I’m finally arriving.
- CREATE YOUR NICHE …
I have my niche consumers only because of my locales. At Value Village, Shoppers on Broad, and the Italian Star Deli, I sell my thrums to familiar strangers. Familiar strangers describe my niche. Because I’ve guitar and harp busked in these spots for years, I’m most comfortable and therefore can afford to be somewhat complacent. Keep in mind that whether or not your buskspot is familiar or unfamiliar, whether or not it is angst free, will not determine your dollar take for your time invested there.
At the Village I’ve a melange of consumers, none of whom seem to be high-brow. At Shoppers, too, I've a potpourri of consumers, some of which are high-brow. And at the Star, my smorgasbord consumers are mainly there for the sandwiches, numbering over 200 munchers every noon hour.
Factoid: I’ve listed these three places in the order of consumer generosity, the most generous being at Value Village, the least generous being at the Italian Star Deli. I shall be more precise. At Value Village my take is between 35 and 50 dollars per hour; at Shoppers between 25 and 40 dollars per hour; at the Italian Star 25 dollars tops over the noon hour. The secret is to know which hour to be busking at any particular venue.
I thrum a twelve-string whilst blowing my harp. Other times busking I take my banjitar or didge.
Factoid: These three buskspots, in particular, are for minutes of salvo, not for quiet sketching.
Portrait busking is more for my clerisy consumers, the artistic and/or social elite one sees zigzagging through the park or sipping espressos in the downtown square. Swards and sidewalk café patios are my perfect spots for portrait busking.
- COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CONSUMERS …
Cultivate your connecting skills, first, by making eye contact with everyone who walks by. Be sure to say thank aloud anyone tossing coin into your guitar case. Connecting with every passer-by takes practice. I remind you, dear buskers, not only are you getting paid to practice, public relation skills are significant toward your performance as a whole. Likeability makes for munificent consumers.
Factoid: The mod of your consumers is plebeian.
Factoid: You, too, are plebeian.
- START SMALL THINK BIG …
I started my guitar busking on lonely street corners. My confidence and my consumer numbers were low, and unwittingly, lonely buskspots were the perfect places to practice my craft. From these lonely street corners I ventured into the cacophonous crowds of the grocery store parking lots. And now I have the adequate skill and roseate moxie to set up anywhere I choose. My dream of being that planetary busker has taken me across Western Canada, to downtown Amsterdam, to rural and urban Ireland, and Marrakesh, Morocco.
- KNOW YOUR PURPOSE …
Know why you are busking. If you are busking to pay for food and shelter you need to be out there all day long, busking as long as necessary to pay for your sustenance. However, if you’re a faux busker such as I am, you need only to busk as much as you want. My preference is three times a week, two hours at a time, and then it is out of my system until the following week. To realize my dream of becoming a planetary busker I need to continually polish my strumming and thrumming, puffing and blowing.
The very best thing about busking is that you can busk you can busk pretty much anywhere you want, and the next best thing is that the bulk of the necessary inventory is in your head.
Busking is one of those treacly, tristful treats that seemingly offers me an amaranthine shelf-life!
No matter your location you can always borrow a guitar (which I do wherever I busk except for in Canada). I never include a guitar in my airplane luggage. In Amsterdam I borrowed a guitar from, ALINA, a Russian musician; in Ireland I borrowed guitars from, MICHAEL, a hypnotherapist; and a Slovakian busker, PETER; in Marrakesh I borrowed a guitar from MOHAMED, a busker from Cape Town. My planetary playlist is always in my head.
|ALINA FROM RUSSIA|
|MICHAEL FROM IRELAND|
|PETER FROM SLOVAKIA|
Marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week is honorary degree recipient, Doctor Bradley John Hornung (my favorite NHL scout), and his entourage, as they partook the Spring Convocation ceremonies at the University of Regina.
|BRAD HORNUNG AND SHELDON KENNEDY (BOTH HONORARY DOCTOR RECIPIENTS)|
|TINA (FRIEND) AND TERRY (MOM) AND CAROL (MY WIFE) AND BRAD|
|BRAD ON THE BIG SCREEN DELIVERING HIS KEY NOTE TO THE GRADUATES|