|MY BANFF SELFIE|
“You’d better get that checked out,” she said, “it is likely skin cancer and it goes really, really deep under the surface.” Chris was smiling and joking when she said this.
Hmmm … Feeling a bit unnerved with her comment I got my spot checked out the very next week. It was diagnosed as cancer and caught early enough that I can now refer to myself as a cancer survivor.
When I was 13 years of age while riding a horse across Notekeu Creek I was shot in the right shoulder with a 22 rifle by some boys shooting frogs along the creek bank (see my blog posting, BOY 13 SHOT IN SHOULDER: AN ESSAY ON A REAL BUSKEROO, Saturday, March 24th, 2012). I still have the scar from when the doctor cut out the bullet. With this latest surgery I now have a similar looking scar on my left shoulder, and so here is my new tagline:
I TOOK A BULLET IN MY RIGHT SHOULDER AND DODGED A BULLET IN MY LEFT!
Enough of this pity and proud introduction -- today my essay is that of being a band member contrasted to that of being a busker. I’ll start with a couple of stereotypes: Band members are those shiny people on stage with baditude issues and Buskers are those lonely unpolished bards who are in search of a band.
Band members are those shiny people on stage with baditude issues:
And this stereotype is not-so-strangely sort of true. It takes a lot of jam to strum and play on a bar stage and because most, if not all of the audience members, are drinking booze resulting in some of the bar patrons looking at the band members through their seductive liquor goggles. Hmmm … and more the confident a performer gets strumming and strutting on stage, the more cocky and cavalier one becomes. (And if you don’t believe me -- just ask me.)
Buskers are those lonely unpolished bards who are in search of a band:
I’ve been in bands and I am a busker and I cannot count the number of times someone has suggested I team up with so-and-so because so-and-so is also a busker and together we’d make a great band. And why would a busker prefer the street to a stage, prefer to be perceived among dregs rather than a shiny chick magnets? Here are the reasons why:
- PICKING THE BAND
Finding suitable band mates is a chore. Friends are usually the first pool of players to choose from when forming a band. The second pool comes from the music community of which you are most familiar. Once the players are picked then each of the individual personalities has to be reckoned with on a continuing basis. Most bands I’ve been involved with seem to thrive on egotistical drama and is incumbent upon all of the members to keep band-centered rather than ego-centered. This is the main cause of bands breaking up.
ZEROTH. This is the number of band mates you need to be a busker. With zero band mates there is never an issue of collective social drama. Buskers can be egocentric and not miss a street beat.
With busking you just pick yourself for a solitary and totalitarian enterprise, no screening or auditions necessary.
- PICKING THE EQUIPMENT
YIKES. Bands need lots – buskers need little. Bands that perform live need equipment, microphones, amplifiers, monitors, and the technical list is actually endless. Guitar buskers need only a guitar and a singing voice, though the singing is optional.
Bands need to be with-it -- buskers need to be without. This need is in terms of every regard from equipment to marketing.
- PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT PERFORMANCE
Bands have to practice to get their songs tight. Most bands that offer solid performances practice at least once a week; whereas, buskers play loose and, in fact, get paid to practice. For buskers, every busking occasion is a paid practice.
For a band to practice at least once a week demands quite a commitment of its members. The more members a band has, the more frustrating it is the keep the collective committed to the practice schedules. For a band, perfect practice means near perfect performance. For bands, the rehearsals are like the real thing.
- DECISIONS DECISIONS
Most bands play covers to appeal to their audiences, but once in a while an original song is squawked out during a set. There are several sublimated singer-songwriters on any given band stage.
Buskers, on the other hand, play and sing whatever they want whenever moment they want. Bands play according to script – buskers play according to heart.
- THE LOOK
Every band needs a certain look. Some bands are in costume, and for others, their look is being out-of-costume. I remember being in the band, Sharie and the Shades. In that band we all wore black shirts with blue jeans. Strangely, I carried on that practice for years later. Whenever I was on a stage strumming and singing I always wore blue jeans and a black shirt. Now I always wear jeans and usually a white shirt. Over the past couple decades it has seemed always to me to be, literally, either black or white.
Factoid: My buddy Devon and self are playing at the COPPER KETTLE tomorrow night. We’ll both be wearing jeans (this is not planned but in any duo performance previous with Devon he has always wore jeans) and both us will be in a long-sleeved shirt. (Mine will be white and knowing Devon from previous gigs, his will be darker.) Whatever garb Devon is donning, we will present as crisp looking when we perform.
Buskers can look crisp or sloppy – As long as they’re clean, nobody cares.
- MEMBER RESPONSIBILITIES
Who ought to be doing what is always a concern for a band. The band manager, who is usually an active band member, should assign specific duties to each of the other band members. Typically the band manager does the bookings; whereas the duties of set-ups and sound-checks should be assigned to others. All individual equipment should be lugged by the members who use it. I’ve been in several bands and it seems that other than show and shoulder their own equipment, most band members roll along with a not-my-job attitude.
Band members, for the most part, do not appreciate their manager’s labour and stress involved in booking gigs. Unfortunately this minimum- effort- for- maximum -gain attitude seems prevalent in band and most other communities. (I, myself, seem to suffer this same malady line.)
Band members tend to be like house cats prowling out-of-door for the evenings. Bands haunt the same hunting grounds time and again, playing in familiar bars in familiar cities and towns.
Buskers, on the other hand, tend to be wildcatters, showing off their wares in the most obscure and experimental settings.
Both bands and buskers are driven by mercenary adventure and endeavor, and this is just one of many comparisons (even though this essay in on their contrasts).
Bands are fragile – buskers are forever (or at least as long as the shelf life for any particular busker).
Admittedly the camaraderie among band mates cannot be replicated being a busker on the street. The camaraderie of being in a band is most certainly endearing. I love all my band-mates, those that were and those that still are. But saying thus, camaraderie can most certainly be attained in other areas of anyone’s life, other hobbies for example. I must mention that for me THERE IS NO BETTER CAMARADERIE than being a band member in this regard.
As a busker, between consumers I am allowed a hundred Walter Mitty moments within my self-initialized time frame.
Factoid: On occasion I have daydreamed through my whole busking time.
Any such Walter Mitty moments on a stage can only drift into performance disaster. Every band member during every song has to stay focused, because each player is reliant upon the other members to play their instruments according to their practiced scripts. A song on a stage shared among band mates is truly a trapeze act; whereas safety nets and member supports are never necessary for buskers.
BANDS ARE LIKE THE TRAPEZE --
BUSKERS ARE LIKE THE TIGHT ROPE.
BANDS ARE LIKE THE TRAPEZE --
BUSKERS ARE LIKE THE TIGHT ROPE.
My CHAUCERIAN PARADE members marching today:
|A MURDER OF CROWS AT THE START OF MY HILL EARLY THIS MORNING|