Sunday, January 11, 2015


Ah … the romance of the busker! 

Git slung over my shoulder and a double-cream Americano in my hand, each day I stroll down city sidewalks searching for adventure, searching for the perfect buskspot.  Usually by ten o’clock a.m. I am strumming my twelve-string, catching that first wave of morning consumers.

Before the noon hour I'm usually packed up and looking for another buskspot, to catch the second wave of consumers as they crash the market grabbing snack or a sale.

And after the third wave, the cat’s paw one o’clock aftershock, I’ll grab another Americano and strum until three or four, depending on the number of coins clinking into my git case.

Ah … the romance of the busker!

Cap-a-pie I get to wear whatever I want.  And this is what I always wear, simply because I want to.   

In summer I’m hatless.  I tousle my hair to give that windblown look of a free spirit.  I’ve got this notion that the quintessential busker has to have a Kennedy shock of messy hair.  

Sunny or not, I wear the shades, and usually they are black-framed, though I do have white and red frames in my stockpile.  

On hot days I wear a white t-shirt.  And this white t-shirt is likely the reason I lift weights every day.  Hmmm … readers of this blog are certainly aware of my narcissistic nature.

For leggings I’m a worn-out faded blue jeans kind of guy. 

For my feet I’m in boots, mostly steel-toed black or brown, very necessary for my trekking miles of concrete.

Ah … the romance of the busker!

Busking, I can strum and thrum whatever songs I want.  And I always choose original tunes, ones that I’ve written because that is what I want.  Whenever someone makes a request, on existential principle, I always graciously decline.

Ah … the romance of the busker!

My git quits any time after four o’clock.  I grab a bite from a local vendor (one who has treated me kindly that day), get seated on a sidewalk bench or a sward in a park, and enjoy my supper.  Sometimes, only sometimes, will I busk until dusk.

Ah ... the romance of the busker! 
If I’m not pounding empty sidewalks by nine o’clock in the morning, I’ll not get my perfect buskspot.  I need to rise with the sun, go for my workout, have breakfast, and hit the street by nine.  And I do need the sun!  Grey cloud-filled skies are adumbrate for a busker, for consumers are especially munificent only on windless and sunny days.

Ah ... the romance of the busker!

If I do not vacate my perfect morning buskspot by noon, other buskers will be annoyed, and decidedly vexed, too, will be the vendors with whom I’ve strummed in close proximity.  After a couple hours they need a listening break, a new sidewalk artist to entertain them.

During the noon hour, I need to be set up in a good location.  It is during the noon hour that my second wave of consumers, actually the biggest wave, walks by.  I need to be at my very best both physically and mentally to cope with the rush.

Just past the noon hour, the cat’s paw crowd makes for an easy strum.  The crowd has reduced and my passing-by consumers are but a trickle.   This seems relaxing but really is just another endurance test to get me to my four o’clock stop time.  I usually pick four o’clock because that’s when I’ve met my imaginary dollar target for the day.  In the heat of the summer I pick seventy-five dollars as suffice to shut down.  Late spring and early autumn I pick fifty dollars to be sufficed.  My busking acme is any day that I meet my quota before four o’clock!

Ah ... the romance of the busker!

I need to be the constant martinet, continually work on my guitar strumming and my singing, to show respect for myself and those of the merchants whose permission I seek to solicit on their storefronts.  Bad strumming and bad singing makes for bad, rather than best, practice. 

Ah ... the romance of the busker!

I need to keep in mind that my busking presence is fifty percent talent and fifty percent expression.  If people like the way I look, if they like the way I present, they become consumers.  To keep my day-to-day duende, I need to always play my best and look my best.  If the people passing by do not like my talent or looks, they become my critics.  And becoming a critic is as simple as not tossing a coin into my open guitar case.

Ah ... the romance of the busker!

If you’ve ever experienced stage fright with a band at a gig, this fright pales in emotion when compared to solitary street busking.  Street busking is a singular adventure.  I am on my own, totally.  Compliments I receive as an individual are highly rewarding, as much so as the catcalls are highly demeaning.  It takes more than talent to be a guitar busker, it also takes grit.

Ah ... the romance of the busker!

Though the art of busking does add value to most everyone’s downtown shopping experience, there are exceptions.  And those exceptions will mention that you are out of tune, they will challenge as to why they should be giving you money for nothing, they will sing alongside you, they will want to strum your guitar; and some even, will attempt to steal the coins from your guitar case.  

(Fact: The social benefits of busking are rare and rich. For example, supposed friends I know in my own locality will nary evoke a simple thank-you in kind for gifts, and yet I've a bond with people from Russia, Slovakia, and Ireland, just because I'm a busker.)

Ah ... the romance of the busker!

If I take a sick day I don’t get paid.  This does not mean that I strum and sing even when I’m sick, but it does mean that I am always conscience of my mental and physical health.  Privately, I need to lead a healthy lifestyle.  Buskers who are constantly sick will eventually starve (metaphorically).  From the consumer perspective on the dreg continuum, unhealthy buskers eventually decline to be dudgeons of panner or a picker.

Ah ... the romance of the busker!


[This picture atop this blog entry consists of Darren, Mark, and me in my alterity, BLACK BROOK TIDES, performing in winter at the BUSHWAKKER BREW PUB in Regina, Canada, on the eve of BLACKBERRY MEADE, the coldest night of the year.]

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