Saturday, December 28, 2013

THE WAY WE ARE: THE WAY I AM

Yes, that is me on the left lifting the GREY CUP!  In the middle of this picture is Brendan Taman, the General Manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and on the right is my longtime buddy, Brent, from Vanguard, Saskatchewan.  Brendan Taman and I know one another only as familiar strangers.  We live in the same building in downtown Regina.  Brent and I have known one another all our lives.  We grew up together in the village of Vanguard, Saskatchewan.

Brendan knows nothing of who I am.  Brent knows that I am a busker.  But Brent does not know that I am very soon to be a busker with a business purpose.

Over these last few years I have been busking on the sidewalks of Regina, Saskatchewan, and taking summer buskations in British Columbia.  I have strummed my guitar on streets in Victoria, Kamloops, Prince George, Invermere, Salmon Arm, and places elsewhere.  But sadly, as our renowned crisp Canadian winter sets in, my busking always comes to a cold halt.  In fact, at the start of Old Man Winter I become an accursed, frigid fring, a fring being the noise made by a lightbulb that has just shone its last (THE MEANING OF LIFF, Adams & Lloyd).

Weary of this pattern, I’ve decided to take stock of not only who I am, but also who I want to be.  It is time, I have decided, to grab hold of my busking career.  Recently in the Huffington Post (December 20, 2014), five strategies for securing my/anyone’s career have been presented.  None of these strategies are Annie Oakley – all demand sweat and tears.
  •      Strategy 1. Gain Insight 
1      Through a series of self-assessments (simply by counting the coin in my buskpot), I do know my strengths and I know what needs improvement.  In certain geographical areas around downtown Regina, I am in demand.  I have buskspots established at Value Village, Shoppers on Broad, and Mike’s Independent on Broadway, the Italian Star Deli, the summer Farmers ’ Market, and Madame Yes in the Fredrick Hill Mall.  My skillset is thrumming my twelve-string whilst blowing a harpoon.  Amongst Regina buskers I am unique (save for Devon Floyd who busks with these same instruments but in a different sphere).  My weakness is that I play the same twenty or so tunes over and over and over.  Another weakness is that I do not sing much. Both these I recognize as being so simply because … I am too lazy to put in the extra effort. 
    
  •       Strategy 2. Know and Express Your Value 
 I understand my value to the establishments where I set up my buskspots and my value to the agencies that I advertise.  My busking goal is strictly that of entertainment. The agencies that help to sponsor me (Canadian Mental Health Association and the Schizophrenia Society of Saskatchewan) are not too concerned about my busking strategies, so long as they are never embarrassed by my behaviors.  The vendors where I busk have stated that I add a welcoming ambience to their establishments. 
  •       Strategy 3. Develop and Manage Your Brand/Reputation 
3    Everyone has a personal brand or reputation to a degree.  As a busker I present myself to be a cross between folk singer and singing cowboy.  I tussle my hair, wear a long-sleeved white shirts (or white t’s), faded jeans, and work boots.  If it is chilly, I don either a Stetson or a Brixton Tiller. Lots of self-reflection over the years has determined the garb and persona that I present as a busker.  In the beginning, as a cowboy cap-a-pie with a cowboy hat, cowboy shirt, stiff blue jeans, and cowboy boots, I was never really comfortable.  Posing now, somewhere betwixt anthophilous and cowpoke, I am very comfortable.
  •       Strategy 4. Build Your Network
      I have gotten to know most of the staff in the vendors of my busking haunts.  Some I know by name, all I know by face.  All our smiles to one another are reciprocated, and our chats, both phatic and philosophical, are commonplace.
  •       Strategy 5. Share Your Goals
      At present I have connected with a couple of other performers who may be willing to hit the streets with me.  Presently, under the moniker, Phantom Tide, we (guitar virtuoso and luthier, Darren, and sultry vocalist, Amanda) are rehearsing for a ninety-minute gig of original material for a local brew pub.  I am hoping that after this, together we do more. 

My busking career is entirely up to me.  I have at last realized I need to take full accountability for myself as a busker.  To help in this business, I have decided I need a manager.  Just as the Saskatchewan Roughriders who won the Grey Cup under the guidance of their manager, Brendan Taman (pictured above), I too, aspire to be a success, not as an athlete, but as a singer/songwriter.  I need a manager who is bright, has a strong work ethic, and knows the local entertainment scene.  (As of this Christmas, I have actively pursued a young and bright prospect who happens to fit the bill.  I am keeping my strumming fingers crossed.)

In concert with my business manager, we shall establish some realistic performance goals and do our very best to achieve them.  My new manager should be one who can offer good career advice, and at the same time be inspiring.  My new manager ought to be a bit boulevardier, and one to convince me to embrace even more, a Carpe Diem attitude.

My new manager should effect change to … THE WAY I AM.

 

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