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Do buskers serve a purpose ?

During the course of the last 12 months Captain Tricko & his LOW RENT ORCHESTRA has performed in a lot of public places . . . and been requested to pack up and leave only three times.

Tewantin in April . . . Caloundra Street Fair last Sunday . . . And again today at Nambour  . . So this article is a response to those who order the buskers to leave . . . Thus raising the question in my headline pondering the value of  busking.

I’ve been a regular Bulcock Street performer for more than 10 years . . . as of early 2016 the street has been under reconstruction . . . the market co – ordinator is a newbie . . . this market has always encouraged street performance . . . the town’s biggest event is a music festival which includes a “ busking competition “ . Last Sunday the new market co ordinator informed me that I was breaking the council rules ( i.e. only two buskers allowed ) and requested I cease my performance . . . people watching me and I suppose enjoying Captain Tricko’s show could not understand the problem and jumped to my defence . . . asking that I be able to stay and put some good vibes into the street fair atmosphere . . . which is gratifying . . . especially as they continued to put money in my case as the market co ordinator was shutting me down . . . despite agreeing that my permit allowed me perform there . . . When I asked her whether there had been a noise complaint the reply was in the negative . . . but qualified by her interpretation of council busking guidelines ( only two buskers allowed ) . . . a fairly long and sometimes heated conversation followed . . . Now I don’t want to spoil anyone’s day so I accepted it was time to leave . . . the market co ordinator took my contact details and promised to get back to me later that week once she had clarified the situation . . .
And back in April . . . while I was playing my tunes in Tewantin’s main street on a sunny Wednesday morning . . . I was in full swing and set up in the shady alcove outside the Royal Mail Hotel . . . with a lot of folks both young and old stopping to throw a coin or note in my case . . . kid’s dancing . . . mum’s dancing . . . old ladies grooving . . . a particularly officious parking warden gave me an ultimatum ” the police would be called if I did not leave ” . . .  He had approached me with the question “ did I have a busking permit “. . . well I said yes . . . and that I had been performing there for at least 10 years . . .

So he asked to see the permit and upon it’s presentation informed me that what I was doing was illegal as the permit was for The Sunshine Coast Council area . . . Well Noosa & Tewantin are on the Sunshine Coast I retorted . . . upon my asking whether there had been a complaint about my public performance the man told me no . . . but that it was his job to move me on if what I was doing was illegal or contravened council by law . . . at that point a member of the public who had crossed the street told the parking warden “ to get a real job “ and leave me to entertain the folks who were standing around waiting for another tune . . . this support I appreciated but I could see it was just throwing fuel on the fire . . . understanding body language & facial expression are big part of how a good busker / entertainer survives . . . so with the warden standing over me menacingly I accepted it was time to leave . . . with a farewell to my small disappointed crowd.

Today at Nambour near the entrance to Woolworths where I have been busking for a decade . . . where people wait for taxi’s . . . where townsfolk meet & greet in the afternoon sun . . . where the people waiting at the pedestrian crossing often start dancing or break into song . . . where the hard case people sit on public seating larfing and joking . . . where the police often come to sort out a problem . . . where Max the homeless guy comes and throws a coin in my case . . . where other buskers . . . and Captain Tricko perform to lift the spirit of a good old country town doing it’s best despite the odds . . . it happened again . . . I’ll spare you a blow by blow description of how the Centre Management security detail got me to move on . . . But move on I did . . . as a passionate busker I would hate to spoil someone’s day !

Another challenge for an old busker like me are parents of the pushy variety . . . like the soccer mum or soccer dad they want their kid to win . . . their charge is the newly licensed busker kid with a new microphone & amp & guitar from Aldi & three songs . . . the busking guidelines require parental supervision for anyone under 18 . . . so they interpret the rules to suit their own tight scheduling of family events . . . and to put their kid in the best and most favoured busking location . . . challenging my assertions that busking is a fraternity . . . an age old community activity that requires respect from newbies . . . they often set up in front of a shop window and place their collection receptacle . . . right out in the middle of the thoroughfare . . . where passersby who are often peering at the screen in their hand walk and wander about  . . . this can be annoying shop keepers who want the view of their  window display unimpeded . . . and for the poor bugger who trips over and open guitar case while staring at the Google Map or messaging on Facebook . . . These new buskers in my recent experience will set their new amplifier up metres away from where I am already entertaining a crowd . . . and then engage in a volume battle to bring attention to themselves . . . when you approach them about the volume and proximity an often angry sacrilegious parent describes the rights they have . . . that the time I have been in my spot is up . . . and that the kid only has two hours a week to play music . . . these parents and younger performers sometimes engage with me on the subject of sharing a spot by mutual arrangement . . . their mantra is “ we are on a tight schedule “ . . . as a full-time busker I can’t imagine anything worse than a tight schedule . . . the schedule they want me to share . . . LORD HAVE MERCY ! ! !

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