The phenomenon referred to as the RIDER NATION is an amazing culture surrounding the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team. Rider fans are purportedly the best fans in the CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE. According to Murray McCormick (sports reporter for the REGINA LEADER POST), Roughrider fans aren’t made, in fact, they are born green. There are countless pictures of babies born in Saskatchewan dressed in Roughrider green and white (uniform colors). Practically everyone in the RIDER NATION wears green and white to the games, many of which being MELON HEADS, the art of sporting watermelons, as helmets. (There are even MELON BOOBS -- see picture below.) And when RIDER fans go to the great football game in the sky, many even have a ROUGHRIDER line of reference in their obituaries.
FACT: The RIDER NATION is comprised of the rowdiest fans of any sports team in Canada, even ranking ahead of the Montreal Canadians of the NHL (National Hockey League).
FACT: The SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS sell as much merchandise as all of the other CFL teams combined. When the games are at home, downtown Regina is a beer frothy sea of green and white. And even during away games, the Rider Nation dons the colors.
FACT: The attendance of the RIDER NATION exceeds 30,000 at every home game.
FACT: There is a stretch of road that runs from the football stadium to downtown Albert Street, designated as the GREEN MILE, in reference to the path the majority of RIDER NATION members walk along to the game. There is even official signage on the route.
At this particular game, forty-four thousand fans were in attendance. The SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS were playing the WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS, and the buskspot that I chose was a sward just one city block from the east exit of the stadium, thinking I’d have at least half the fans heading my way. The RIDERS defeated the BOMBERS 48 to 25; 20,000 jubilant fans passed by my buskingdom; and I was there greeting them onto the Green Mile with my guitar.
Cap-a-pie I was hatless, black shades, a CFL official Reebok RIDER jersey (my favorite number 31 on the front, and my name, CHILD, on the back), a pair of faded blue jeans, and brown Columbia hiking boots. I strummed my Simon & Patrick twelve-string and blew my Blues Harp.
It was the most perfect day. It was five o’clock in the afternoon and the sun was shining bright. The Regina world was windless, and the fans had just witnessed the Saskatchewan Roughriders improving their winning record eight games to one, the best ever in their franchise history.
It was the most perfect day, designed for the RIDER NATION, my green and white consumers, to be most munificent – and they were!
That particular busking day, appealing to the RIDER NATION, definitely elicited a positive cathexis, a mercenary urge to replicate that first time Green and White busking experience.
Upon moments of general reflection, I do grok the social and monetary benefits of busking. As a busker I am, indeed, the Kapellmeister of my buskingdoms. On every occasion that I sling my guitar I meet a coterie of characters. On the Green Mile I met the fans of the RIDER NATION; at SHOPPERS DRUG MART I meet the people picking up their prescriptions; at INDEPENDENT FOODS I meet the people buying their groceries; at the FARMERS’ MARKET, I meet a multitude of green tea consumers shopping from a variety of niche market vendors. And as a busker at the FARMERS’ MARKET, I become one of those niche market vendors.
The last few times I’ve set up at the REGINA FARMERS’ MARKET, I’ve done so betwixt DnA FARMS and ANGELA’S OWN HOMESTYLE ORIGINALS.
Dallas and Annette are the proprietors of DnA FARMS, a booth selling old fashioned baking, a variety of naturally grown vegetables of heirloom seeds, and wire worked jewelry (designed by Annette from Dallas’ polished stones). Dallas calls himself a hillbilly. He even dresses the part.
Angela Latta is the owner and operator of ANGELA’S OWN HOMESTYLE ORIGINALS. And Angela presents that homespun appearance. Angela sells prepackaged dips and soups and sweet spreads. She also sells children’s toys which include balloon yoyos, ribbon wands … and hoola hoops! (I am thinking I ought to purchase a couple hoola hoops from Angela, and have them, not for sale, but just to be available for kids to enjoy whilst I busk!)
As I continue to grok the social and monetary benefits of busking, I realize that I am not unlike a character in a novel of the bildungsroman genre. My psychological and moral growth as a buskologist has certainly waxed over the years. My busking began on the sidewalks of downtown Regina, having since buskingdoms stretched to Moose Jaw, Invermere, Salmon Arm, Kamloops, Victoria, and Prince George, and a variety of bugtussel country swain-like locales.
My bildungsroman has been on the sidewalks, in the parking lots, at harbors, at storefronts, at arts and crafts shows, at farmers’ markets, and now, on the Green Mile. Being a buskologist is being a being of thrumming adventure.
Being a buskologist has given me Annie Oakley access to big events (where others must pay at the gate). Being a buskologist I have become a boulevardier (man-about-town), on the concrete walks, on the paved parking lots, on the grassy swards.
Being a buskologist I have discovered (I have created) just one heuristic for which I truly abide:
DO NOT BE INTRUSIVE – EVER!
In closing, I must mention that being a buskologist I have even become somewhat tony in attitude, as I bask in my imaginary notoriety.
For example, yesterday busking at the FARMERS’ MARKET, a LEADER POST photographer, MICHAEL BELL, took a dozen photos of me, asking if it would be okay to have a staff reporter interview me later in the week for a story on busking.
For example, I have been invited by my newest best friends-to-be, Shelley and Sam, to strum in front of their SNOW DOME CAFÉ during CULTURE DAYS, this coming September 28th and 29th in the resort town of JASPER, ALBERTA. And I have even been asked to play on the main stage during the evening award ceremonies.
BEING A TONY BUSKOLOGIST – I CAN TAKE!