Sunday, March 6, 2016


In my world of social adventures, everyone knows that having the topical KNOWLEDGE, having the hands-on EXPERIENCE, and having the preferred paper DIPLOMA, all contribute to the credentials necessary to being an expert. 

There are many experts in my musical community circle. DUSTIN RITTER, REGAN HINCHCLIFFE, DARREN FORBES, and TRENT LEGGOTT, all of whom, compared to me, are considered guitar experts. I also gig with the likes of MARK WILSON, an expert on fiddle, CORBY MAGNUSSON, an expert on bass, JAY GREENMAN and BARON CHILD, both being expert drummers.  I have done stage gigs with KATIE MILLER and REBECCA LASCUE, very polished performers, experts in their folk fields for sure. 

In my world of working definitions, being an expert is synonymous with being a virtuoso.  Compared to all these above mentioned players … I am quite the opposite of virtuoso; I am but a tyro.
Though a tyro on guitar and harpoon, I am a virtuoso as a busker.  This statement is true only when I compare myself to those other buskers that I know in my locale, is only true when I am displaying my busking ware in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  

In keeping with topical KNOWLEDGE, the hands-on EXPERIENCE, and having the preferred paper DIPLOMA, my credibility as a busker virtuoso elsewhere on the planet is not even near the truth. Truth in expertise, after all, is really just a matter of familiarity and relativity.

Meanwhile back at the ranch … In the city of Regina I am a busker virtuoso because I know I have the topical KNOWLEDGE.  I have enough skill on the guitar to thrum a pleasant melody (I only play originals) and to blow respectable winds from my harpoon. (Factoid: Without a guitar I cannot play a harmonica.)  My excuse for not formally and conscientiously studying more musical theory and strum patterns is a simple one.  I’ve always stated that for every 100 people passing by my buskspot, 85% of them will consider me a rather gifted guitar and harp player, because these particular people do not play either guitar or harp.  For those same 100 people passing my buskspot, I’m guessing approximately only 10% of them know how to play guitar and will instantly recognize the level of my musical skills, which will be similar to their strumming skills.  And last, for these same 100 passers-by, only 5% will possess musical talents that are better than mine.  I mean, really, the ilk of Jack Semple (google him) will strut by just one time in a pedestrian hundred.   

Also I’ve the knowledge on the people traffic patterns.  For example, when I busk at Mike’s Independent, I know only to perform between 4:30 and 6:00 P.M., the time when most people do their grocery shopping.  At Shoppers on Broad, I busk anytime between 4:00 and 8:00 P.M., the hours of a continual consumer line.  At the Italian Star Deli, I only busk over the noon hour, because on any given noon hour, Carlo and his family sell over 200 delicious Italian sandwiches.

 At Value Village I busk Saturday afternoons (sometimes Sunday afternoons), because that is when the heaviest flow of people traffic arrives.  Busking downtown, I only do Saturdays in either the Frederick Hill Mall or right next door on the Plaza.  And sometimes I busk in Victoria Park, also downtown.  Whenever I busk at the downtown Regina Farmers’ Market, I do so only during the prescribed hours.


For the hands-on EXPERIENCE, I’ve logged the requisite 10 years times 50 days times 3 hours, for a total of 1500 hours.  My theory has always been, once a person has a committed experience of 100 times, that repeated action becomes very ordinary and perfunctory.  For me, slinging my guitar and setting up a buskspot has become second nature to my summer being.  I’ve been on buskations to Alberta and British Columbia, from Medicine Hat to Salmon Arm to Kamloops to Prince George to Victoria.  I’ve been on buskation to the Netherlands and to Ireland.  My entire summer is practically one long buskation.    

My preferred paper DIPLOMA was easy peasy.  Having the basic guitar and harp skills, having the experience, publicly posting the self-described label of BUSKOLOGIST, was simply a matter of gumption.  Because I busk and have a busking blog, I felt entitled to self-proclaim this snappy title.  A BUSKOLOGIST is a pundit of Buskology.  BUSKOLOGY is the qualitative study of street busking.  Other related terms are BUSKINGDOM, a frequent buskspot, and BUSKATION, a road trip that involves busking.  (Google A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A BUSKOLOGIST, published February 23rd, 2014.)

Being a professional buskologist I’ve naturally learned a few tricks of the trade.  Firstly, most potential consumers suffer from lookism.  If a busker appears to be a bum with a guitar, the passers-by will treat that busker as such.  Though by design I give the appearance of a free spirit lolling on the sidewalk, strumming and chatting, I am really the consummate martinet.  Cap-a-pie I am in summertime, hatless, always wearing a white shirt and faded blue jeans, standing in polished black work boots.  Always I have an 81/2 x 11 size paper of originals tucked inside my guitar case (so as to not repeat myself in any given set), a bottle of water, and my PSYCHOLOGYBUSKING a la WORDSWORDS blog sign on display.


Those marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week, while busking at VALUE VILLAGE:

NELSON … has been a Saturday consumer of mine for many years at Value Village.  Today Nelson asked me if I had change for a loonie, as he only wanted to toss a quarter into my guitar case.  He was joking of course.

HANKS POTATOES … is an octogenarian guitar-slinger who used to sell potatoes out of his van that he parked in the Value Village parking lot.  Hank is a chatterer, whose latest news is that he sold his house and is now residing in a retirement community, which he hates.

THE SOLDIER … from Winnipeg, MB was describing a time in the 80’s when he mailed a recording of his girlfriend playing classical guitar to the still-famous Liona Boyd.  In response, Leona Boyd, when she performed in Winnipeg later that same year, had a limo pick up the soldier and girlfriend, escorted them into the concert, and met with them backstage at the close.

THE CANCER RESEARCHER … kept insisting that I google, on the internet, the many, many cures for schizophrenia. This guy went on to suggest that cancer, too, could be cured, if the doctors would not discard the valuable studies published on the internet.  He stated that he’s been doing such internet research for years.


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