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Mar 18, 2016 - 2:30:06 PM
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7471 posts since 3/19/2009

 

Whenever I go out and play my fiddle on the street (busking), I go with the attitude of " I wonder what will happen on the street today." Well, today's busking experience didn't surprise me. As I approached my favorite corner, I observed a poor guy (not homeless) put down his bag, put out his cup and sit down on the sidewalk. He beat me to the corner by about ten seconds.. I politely told him 'good luck' and went on across the street to the adjacent corner and started playing my fiddle.. I hadn't played for ten minutes when he came over and put $10 in my little tip basket. I said, "TAKE THAT OUT.. You need that money more than I do".. I was insistant..I'm happy that he enjoyed my playing. That was an over-the-top compliment. I planned on sharing my tips with him, ( I've done so in the past..) but he left before I did. I'll catch him during the next busking adventure.
The last time I went busking I played for about two hours and then I counted my tips.. When I turned to put my fiddle back into the fiddle case, there was an apple in the case. I was very touched by that. Not everyone who is appreciative has money.

As an aside, I want to respond to those who think that busking is 'begging'.. They obviously have never had the wonderful experience of meeting people on the street.

Mar 18, 2016 - 2:44:04 PM
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7471 posts since 3/19/2009

I'm just hoping that the person who put the apple in the fiddle case was not named Eve.....

Mar 18, 2016 - 3:46:40 PM

2424 posts since 7/12/2013

This was sorta busking ... busking while also getting paid ...

We had a gig last night at a large German beer garden kinda place and instead of setting up a sound system in a corner and trying to blast our music across the place, we decided to forgo the sound system and just wander around the place playing to various tables. It was both weird and amazing. Most of the time people stopped what they were doing and listened. Sometimes they really got into it, dancing, pounding on tables, cheering, singing etc. It was a great exercise in reading the crowd, interacting, etc. Other times you'd come up to a table and the people obviously felt a little awkward, like "Are we supposed to stop talking and listen" or "Maybe if we ignore these guys they'll go away". About 25% of the tables tipped us. But some generous fellow (quite inebriated) gave us a 80 dollar tip. We tried to tell him to just give us a little, but he insisted and we played them a few more songs. We're hoping they get good feedback about this and have us come back to play. What was great was that people actually asked us what the name of our band was and even took time to look us up on Facebook. Look forward to future gigs like this.

If anyone has the opportunity to try this, I'd definitely recommend it.

Edited by - fiddlinsteudel on 03/18/2016 15:48:03

Mar 18, 2016 - 3:58:09 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by fiddlinsteudel
 

This was sorta busking ... busking while also getting paid ...

We had a gig last night at a large German beer garden kinda place and instead of setting up a sound system in a corner and trying to blast our music across the place, we decided to forgo the sound system and just wander around the place playing to various tables. It was both weird and amazing. Most of the time people stopped what they were doing and listened. Sometimes they really got into it, dancing, pounding on tables, cheering, singing etc. It was a great exercise in reading the crowd, interacting, etc. Other times you'd come up to a table and the people obviously felt a little awkward, like "Are we supposed to stop talking and listen" or "Maybe if we ignore these guys they'll go away". About 25% of the tables tipped us. But some generous fellow (quite inebriated) gave us a 80 dollar tip. We tried to tell him to just give us a little, but he insisted and we played them a few more songs. We're hoping they get good feedback about this and have us come back to play. What was great was that people actually asked us what the name of our band was and even took time to look us up on Facebook. Look forward to future gigs like this.

If anyone has the opportunity to try this, I'd definitely recommend it.


Once, last year we were busking on a corner and some guy eating outdoors at a local restaurant came and told us he'd give us $20 if we walked down the block and would play for his friends at their table.. It was wonderful.. In the end he gave us $40...$20 would have been more than enough... Going table to table does seem a little weird, but if the people playing TexMex or what I call Gypsy musice  can do it ( and they always do it well), the We can do it..(please, I'm not trying to stereotype here)...

Mar 18, 2016 - 4:00:15 PM
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7471 posts since 3/19/2009

Last week I was busking and some guy dropped in a dollar and said Thanks.. I recognized his voice but not his face.. I said, "I know you from somewhere.".. Turns out that I knew him from over 30 years past.. His voice gave him away.. Life on the street is always wonderful.  

Mar 19, 2016 - 6:34:44 AM
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13 posts since 9/19/2010

The little band I belong to Busks every Saturday Afternoon at the local Farmer's Market. Last summer we made over $1000.00 and we donated it to the local animal rescue and shelter. We sure have a lot of fun, and are able to help a good cause. We'll be the same place this summer, the Wayne County Farmer's Market in Torrey, Utah. The market opens at 4 pm, so if you're in the area (Capitol Reef National Monument, Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase National Monument, Zions Park, or Canyonlands), please stop by and if you have an instrument, join us.

Mar 19, 2016 - 11:38:21 AM
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39 posts since 3/28/2015

Love this. I don't think I'll ever busk playing fiddle. But I've thought about it playing my mountain dulcimer. Even contacted the city (Louisville). This is giving me some extra push. Just the fear factor I guess.

Mar 19, 2016 - 11:43 AM
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7471 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by dulcimer bill
 

Love this. I don't think I'll ever busk playing fiddle. But I've thought about it playing my mountain dulcimer. Even contacted the city (Louisville). This is giving me some extra push. Just the fear factor I guess.


Fear can be our biggest enemy.. As for busking you need not be accomplished. The public is very forgiving an SELDOM does someone stop and listen to an entire tune even once.. They'll donate and keep on walking.. Once that sinks in, you'll never be afraid to busk again..

Mar 19, 2016 - 12:31:17 PM

39 posts since 3/28/2015

Thanks Lee. I'll keep you posted.

Mar 19, 2016 - 1:40:16 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

 

Cute... It pays to be cute if you are going to busk.. Once, after teaching a cute 18 girl just three or four tunes, she set up on the street and made $75 in an hour... I must not be cute enough.  Another time a 13 year old, who was quite a good fiddler made well over $100 in an hour at our local farmer's market.   I must not be cute enough.

I can't wait for my 5 year old granddaughter, who knows about 3 Suzuki violin tunes, to go busking with me.. She will only be good for about 15 minutes, but hopefully that will inspire her ( and we'll 'clean up').. Of course I'll share with her... Her mother will make me share.. cheeky

Mar 19, 2016 - 2:57:30 PM
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ScottK

USA

209 posts since 6/27/2007

I don't usually busk, but every once in a while I get pulled into it to play with a few friends who want to.

A few years ago I was at an old time music party on a Friday night and some young friends with a newish band asked me if I'd be willing to busk with them on banjo the next day at the Farmers' Market at Portland State University.  Seems their regular banjo player had a conflict that morning.  I always like playing with them, so I said sure.  The next morning I got down there at the appointed hour, 9:00am, but they were nowhere to be found.  But I ran into Lisa Ornstein.  Turns out they had asked her to join them as well.  Since the band wasn't there, Lisa suggested that we go ahead and bust out and start playing.  So we did.  I had to hang on to my hat trying to keep up on banjo with Lisa's fiery fiddling.  And I had to learn Clyde Davenport's (crooked) Dandy Jim on the fly in front of a (street) audience.  But I had a lot of fun.  Lisa's hot fiddling attracted a crowd and we made $90 in 45min.  Then the rest of the band showed up including the banjo player who wasn't supposed to make it.  We migrated over to a different corner and had a lot of fun playing for another hour or so.  I think we only made another $90 or so, though.  Lisa is very nice about being deferential and supportive with other players, especially younger players, so she had toned her playing down a bit from the prior set. 

Scott

Mar 19, 2016 - 3:05:34 PM
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cornfed

USA

283 posts since 10/17/2010

Hey, Lee.

 

I don't know about that cute factor thing. When I busked with you over at your Farmers' Market, We did pretty good, and I'm sure not cute. Maybe it was the novelty factor? You know...Like "these guys sure have a lot of chutzpa and seem to be enjoying themselves, so I'll play the game."

Mar 19, 2016 - 3:12:36 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

Wayne,... We were CUTE that day...

Mar 21, 2016 - 7:12:35 AM
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cornfed

USA

283 posts since 10/17/2010

I enjoy busking immensely no matter where I do it. Having said that, my favorite time busking was at Tombstone AZ in front of the OK Corral on Allen street. The city has 6 or 7 big festivals of one type or another through the fall, winter and spring, and they sponsor a "Tombstone at Twilight event once a month where the merchants all stay open late and there are gunfights and other events planned.

My banjo buddy and I ( or sometimes just myself) would cowboy up and sit in front of the OK Corral ( the manager is a friend, a fine singer and guitarist), or the little wine tasting  place down the street, and just play for a couple-three hours. from sometime in the morning until lunch time.( this old cowboy likes his lunches regular and on time). We would usually make enough for gas, our lunches and enough left over to go into the kitty for strings, bowhair, rosin and so on. Sometimes we would make much more than that. That was usually when there were a lot of European tourists in town. We just had a tremendous time playing and chatting up the passersby. Probably the best time was when my buddy and I BOTH received proposals of marriage from attractive Spanish ladies. (Naw...surely they were joking). We played for local belly dancers and dancing kids. Once a middle aged Irish lady broke into a step dance to the strains of "Push that pig's foot..." Good times...Life is good! I need to try to revive some of that here in Illinois

Mar 21, 2016 - 7:57:58 AM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

Wayne, you don't live far from me.. Set it up... Have Gun (er, fiddle), Will Travel.   I made that up. wink

Mar 21, 2016 - 8:12:48 AM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

I was standing on a street corner in Lima, Peru, watching the traffic and the two kids who were 'workin' '' it.. When the light turned red and the cars stopped, one kid would run out in front of the sitting cars and do hand stands and summersaults...The other kid would go up and down the two lanes of sitting cars and collect tips. The seemed to be doing quite well.. I tossed them some coins for their efforts as well. Hmmm. Maybe if I played my fiddle in traffic?

 
 
 

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 03/21/2016 08:14:30

Mar 21, 2016 - 12:56:07 PM

169 posts since 7/31/2015

Your post just caused me to look up what sort of regulations Chicago has for busking. I've considered doing it just to get over nerves that come from playing solo in front of people. Of course Chicago being Chicago, there's a $100 permit you have to get every 2 years, and you have to apply for it in person downtown. That makes a good excuse for me not to do it, but the stories are tempting for sure.

Mar 21, 2016 - 1:16:28 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by quietglow
 

Your post just caused me to look up what sort of regulations Chicago has for busking. I've considered doing it just to get over nerves that come from playing solo in front of people. Of course Chicago being Chicago, there's a $100 permit you have to get every 2 years, and you have to apply for it in person downtown. That makes a good excuse for me not to do it, but the stories are tempting for sure.


JUST DO IT.. It will make you a better musician and you will see that people will appreciate whatever skill lever you present..

Mar 21, 2016 - 2:42:54 PM

2424 posts since 7/12/2013

quote:
Originally posted by quietglow
 

Your post just caused me to look up what sort of regulations Chicago has for busking. I've considered doing it just to get over nerves that come from playing solo in front of people. Of course Chicago being Chicago, there's a $100 permit you have to get every 2 years, and you have to apply for it in person downtown. That makes a good excuse for me not to do it, but the stories are tempting for sure.


Im sure there are horror stories of people being run out of town because of their music ... but I find in general people do 1 of 2 things:

1. They completely ignore you and walk right on by

2. They stop, appreciate your music, then walk on.

3. Sometimes they drop a tip or say thanks.

I'm curious, if you aren't taking any money, is that busking?

Mar 21, 2016 - 2:55:37 PM
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7471 posts since 3/19/2009

I'd say that if you aren't accepting money or tips then you are just performing and technically (IMO) you would still be busking.

.The word 'busk' is derived from the Spanish word, 'buscar', which mean ' to look for', be it money,  fame or attention.  So.., if all you want to do is to have people hear you play  on the street, you are still busking.

I'm sure it is all debatable..

Mar 21, 2016 - 2:58:45 PM

2424 posts since 7/12/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Lee M
 

I'd say that if you aren't accepting money or tips then you are just performing and technically (IMO) you would still be busking.

.The word 'busk' is derived from the Spanish word, 'buscar', which mean ' to look for', be it money,  fame or attention.  So.., if all you want to do is to have people hear you play  on the street, you are still busking.

I'm sure it is all debatable..

 


I wasn't sure if you could get out of any potential legal issues by not taking any money ....

Mar 21, 2016 - 3:05:57 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

You might want to check out a old blog topic called:  "How To Get Rich Busking".. 

 

http://www.fiddlehangout.com/blog/8991

I think it will answer All of your questions..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 03/21/2016 15:08:00

Mar 22, 2016 - 12:52:59 AM

1217 posts since 4/6/2014

yep, i had a similar experience with a group of Gypsies at a pitch i was playing at, they where asking folk if they wanted their fortune told, (with the old"cross my palm with silver" routine)  a couple of the kids kept coming over and checking out my fiddle case to see how much was in it, i thought they might have a dip in and run off with my tips, but the opposite was true, they where coming over and throwing coins in every time they got another customer, then they left and thanked me for my playing with a smile and a few more coins, leaving me feeling totally guilty for my initial thoughts about them..... and rightly so

Mar 22, 2016 - 1:29:51 AM

2027 posts since 8/23/2008

I was busking in the big smoke one day, and I was in an alcove down a lane way ( a small one way street ) outside a flower shop. There are pillars which have full length mirrors, and as I viewed through one on the opposite side of the street I did see a young man crouching and eyeing off my case full of coins. I had no doubt about his intentions so I kept a close watch on my takings. At the same location a man did approach me for just a dollar coin saying he needed a needle for the stuff he had wrapped in a tiny silver foil package. Don't busk next to a chemist shop and keep an eye on your takings. Also, don't busk pass 4 pm in the big city because that's when 'they' awaken.....

Mar 22, 2016 - 4:22:59 AM

125 posts since 12/30/2008

The busking I do takes place at Ren Faires. Most interesting tips were:

The kid who stood and listened for about four tunes, told me he didn't have any money, and dropped a stick of gum in my basket. I know that little kids don't have any money, but they are the most attentive audiences.
The guy from the winery booth who who carefully set a glass of (most delicious) hard cider in my basket.
The time I counted my tips and found two 1943 steel pennies. How did they know I used to be an avid coin collector?

Mar 22, 2016 - 5:33:12 AM
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169 posts since 7/31/2015

I've always associated busking with the actual process of leaving the case open for money, not just playing. If that counts, then I actually have a funny busking story! I like to play outside during the summer whenever I can, backyard, parks, whatever. I have a corner of a park near my work that I visit at lunch time to get in a little playing sometimes. It's the least trafficked area of the park so I am usually alone. This day, I was working on jig bowing, and I looked up to see the homeless guy who lives in the park dancing about 50 ft away. I figured I'd better stop screwing around with practicing bowing and just play a couple tunes. He danced for about 2.5 of them, then walked off. First time I ever played for dancers (okay dancer). I see the guy every few days when walking into work and he always smiles and waves.

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