Busking Life is a short film that explains nothing and costs even less to view. Thankyou to the following buskers who appear in my Busking Life film. Contortionist Miss Claire, Ebb n Flo on cigar box guitar , Andrew Turnbull on classical guitar, Speedy Ramirez on classical guitar, Crazy Bear Robinson on banjo, Ant McKenna on guitar, Joe Webster @ Eumundi Markets and thanks to the two African drummers whose names I lost in the translation.
More buskers coming soon.
My own experience as a busker is too vast and valuable to share in a film made with an iPhone camera – but it is a start. Life as a busker brings untold opportunity – recognizing ” good ” opportunities is the hard part – performing the same three songs over and over is the easy part. And then I learnt my fourth song, then a fifth song and so on. Now I play to thousands of people every week. Many of them are generous, some are attentive and inquisitive, a few are spell bound and one or two are crazy. This is a story about opportunity.
A few months ago I was busking at the City Growers Market in the Brisbane CBD. Dan the market organiser provides an umbrella , a busy thoroughfare and a retainer to keep me happy. I like performing at this market and travel to Brisbane by train each fortnight for my musical appointment with the passersby and market people.
On the day in question Dan explained that I had to share my usual spot with Taka who was collecting money in a bronze bowl for the Japanese Earthquake Appeal. Taka & I said hello and negotiated the amount of space we each would need for success with regard to our individual endeavours. Taka was cool and smiling as he watched me set up my equipment. People passing by seemed generous to his request to help the earthquake victims.
After a playing a few tunes, finding my voice and rythum, and relaxing into the tiny space available to me on the footpath I noticed a tall fellow a few metres away sitting on a bench looking in my direction. Nothing strange about that – happens to buskers all the time. But this guy had a most glazed over expression, a slight smile and a foot that was tapping in time to my beat. Taka had set his bowl down on the footpath and was handing out Earthquake Appeal stickers. What happened next defied logical explaination and could easily have got some fur flying.
The tall guy with the tapping foot came up to Taka while he was explaining his charity to someone interested enough to listen. Tall guy then picked up Taka’s coin bowl and tipped the entire contents into my guitar case.
” Sort that one out ” he yelled at us before moping off down the footpath. Not quite dumbfounded but clearly taken aback Taka looked at all the coin in my case. I stopped playing and stood up. There were a lot of folks watching this episode unfold. A good time to crack a joke. I spoke into my microphone ” It’s a great place for busking Thanks for coming to my show, you’ve been a great crowd – But now I’ve got a train to catch – see you all next week ” . Taka had stopped smiling but the crowd around us was mutiplying – something had to give – and it was going to be me. ” Hey man ” I said to Taka , ” don’t worry I’ll keep all this money the crazy man tipped in my case – and for the next two hours everything else I get in that case goes back in your bowl, what do you say ? ” The smile returned to Taka’s face, we shook hands and went back to our respective tasks.
People who heard this exchange applauded and put even more money in my case as I scooped up the hundred dollars or so in coin & $5 notes dumped there by the crazy tall dude who seemed to have vanished from the scene without witnessing the outcome. The next 2 hours passed quickly as it does when you do something you enjoy. Taka and I together had a couple of breaks in the heavy foot traffic – so we made some idle conversation but I guess Taka was unsure if I would keep my end of the bargain. At 2 o’clock I looked in my case to see a a lot of coin ( at least double to what was tossed in by the dude who disappeared ) and some notes. I told Taka I was leaving and scooped the case contents into his big bronze bowl. Taka gave me his biggest smile yet, and a very polite little bow. Then he handed me his business card. As well as being a charity collector, Taka was a tea merchant, a tea importer and a tea house proprietor . He thanked me again profusely in the typical manner of the Japanese and asked me if I would consider performing at the tea house. We negotiated a fee, arranged the gig and I was on my way. I had a train to catch.