|IVICA AND PETER CUTTING A RUG|
Summer has arrived to Regina, Saskatchewan. On Friday I watched a bit of Sticks on Rose (an annual classic road hockey tournament that raises money for local charities, especially for needy children), and I strummed guitar at midnight for SHORDEE’S EAGLES, a Relay for Life team (a fund raising event for the Canadian Cancer Society).
Saturday I was busking at both the Farmer’s Market and the Italian Star Deli, and squeaked a peek at the colubrine Pride Parade in between.
And this morning, finally, I quietly enjoyed the Summer Solstice, going for a six a.m. run around Wascana Lake; I looked at the hundred Peter and Ivica wedding pictures they sent in the afternoon, and I just now finished grilling steaks for our Father’s Day get together this evening.
This was the beginning of summer, the first of many wiener and burger weekend needing a busker relish. And for those of you readers ever wanting to be a busker but have suffered considerable angst whilst thinking such, the following checklist should offer some solace. Here are 10 summertime tips for guitar busking:
- BUSKERS COME IN DIFFERENT SHAPES AND SIZES. So come as you are. There is no ideal body figure for busking. Whatever your body type, endomorph, ectomorph, or mesomorph, accept it and get strumming. Allow me to stereotype. If you’re an endomorph, people may consider you to be jolly. If you’re an ectomorph, people may consider you to be hungry. If you’re a mesomorph, people will be jealous. As for me, I imagine my body type (somewhere betwixt ectomorph and mesomorph) to be that of the quintessential American folk busker; and therefore, that is the type of music that I deliver with my acoustic twelve-string and C harpoon to my consumers.
- GET GOING AND KEEP GOING. Busking is hard work. (Let me tell you about it.) Saturday morning I hit the the FARMERS MARKET pavement at 9:30 A.M. and strummed until noon. Then, at owner Carlo’s request, I strummed on the ITALIAN STAR DELI patio until 3 P.M. Not so strangely, the secret for successful busking is simple. The more you strum, the more popular you become, and the more popular you are the more money you make.
- THERE IS NOT ALWAYS JOY IN FINDING YOUR TRIBE. It’s true you’ll meet some incredible people, but you’ll meet some who are invidious. And I'm not talking about the consumers. There is not always affection in the buskerhood. Sometimes your competition will be intrusive, boorish, and downright
rude. One time I was busking on Scarth
Street when a keyboard player set up within 50 feet of me, plugged in an amp,
and literally pounded me out of my playlist.
Another time in the Downtown Plaza, a country quartet (a fiddler, two
guitarists, and an accordion player), without even a hello, set up right beside
me and began howling and stomping their hoedown.
- TAKE A TIME OUT. I used to play until I was so tuned out I didn’t remember what song I was strumming, perfunctory plucking so to speak. Now I stop for at least fifteen minutes every hour to savor an Americano Decaf.
- ALWAYS HAVE ADAM’S ALE ON HAND. Be sure to sip water the entire busk. If you don’t, the sun will make you dizzy.
- NATURE CALLS. Minimize the collywobbles. Do your business before you set up.
- GO OFF ROAD. It’s easy to be adventurous when you are first starting out because is because everyplace is a new and intoxicating. However, like most things, the more you moil the more job-like it becomes. Busking should never be boring. Now and then I do lose that loving feeling, and gallivant out of city, province, or country to refresh my busking spirit. I refer to these trips as buskations.
- BRUTTO TEMPO NOT. In the wind and rain forget about busking. The best time to busk is when the day is windless, and when Simpson clouds are painted on the blue sky. On sunny days the consumers are more munificent than on other days not. I am a faux busker for a reason. I am not a fictioneer -- I know what I’m writing about.
- TRAIN YOUR BODY. Standing and strumming for even a couple hours takes stamina. Get into the best physical shape your body can tolerate. Get thee to a gym. For example, whenever I am on buskation in Victoria, British Columbia, I will be lifting weights at the Phoenix Fitness Centre every morning before I hit the sidewalks with my guitar and harpoon.
- WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER. There ought to be a positive relationship among you and the vendors, and your potential consumers. This relationship is important. ALWAYS get permission to busk from your nearest vendor. Buskers need the foot traffic, and vendors are the main draw. It’s a triple win, but only if the triangulation among busker, the vendor, and the consumer is respectful.
The art of busking is inchmeal. If you can muster one hundred busks you'll be a master. From ingenuous to ingenious, one hundred busks will take you from being a novice to becoming a virtuoso.
Marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE for this summer solstice weekend:
- At STICKS ON ROSE … My best friend, COLBY WILLIAMS, the best D-man in the WHL (Regina Pats), alongside NHL hockey celebs, Jordan Eberle (Edmonton Oilers), Mike Sillinger (ex-NHL’er and currently scouting for the Regina Pats of the WHL), and Jamie Heward (ex-NHL’er and current coach of the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL).
- At the PRIDE PARADE … Beautiful brown-eyed CORVUS and his mom, KAREN, supporting other marchers.
|KAREN AND HER BEAUTIFUL BROWN-EYED CORVUS|
- At the ITALIAN STAR DELI BARBEQUE … COREEN, the best barbeque chef in the city; CARLO, the best vendor in the city; and self, the best busker in the city.
|COREEN, CARLO, AND SELF|
- PETER AND IVICA on their wedding day. PETER AND IVICA make up the band, GREMMY, a very popular Cranberries tribute band from Slovakia. I met Peter and Ivica in Dublin, Ireland, where Peter offered his guitar for my TEMPLE BAR buskation.
|PETER AND IVICA MARCHING|
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, FOLKSTERS!