Why do first-class musicians busk?

Why do first-class musicians busk?

I always had an image of first-class musicians playing with a couple of close friends in the dark corner of a pub or with family members in the kitchen in their free time. Then I spotted Cormac Begley playing in the street in this video clip:
http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/travel/ireland/video-charlie-byrne-s-bookshop-in-galway-1.1518607

I remember I heard that a very accomplished harper Paul Dooley occasionally play near the Cliffs of Moher. Why do these brilliant musicians busk? I’ve never busked anywhere in the world myself, and I’m not a first-class musician either. Please enlighten me!

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Err - -money?

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

They could play elsewhere for more money, you know.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

"They could play elsewhere for more money, you know."

True, but would they necessarily earn enough to tide them over between gigs? Musicians like Michael McGoldrick, Davy Spillane and Sharon Shannon, who’ll play with anyone in just about any style, get the kind of gigs that can sustain them for a whole year. But musicians that make their living playing trad - even first class ones - for the most part, need to be playing several gigs a week to make a proper living. No doubt, many of them supplement their earnings with music teaching (or other, non-musical work), but if they have free time, what better way to spend it than doing what they love and earning few pennies for it at the same time?

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

there are not a lot of daytime gigs for music. so, between errands and practice sessions, why not make a little cash having some fun busking on the street? as long as you enjoy busking and make money at it, waiting for your night gigs is equivalent to throwing away money that you could have earned.

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Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Maybe if they’re first class ITM musicians, they became first class because they like the social milieu of traditional music. They can relax with the craic & with ordinary people. It keeps them grounded. We watched a documentary on Martin Hayes going back to Irish festivals & he didn’t just do master-classes, he mingled & obviously loved meeting people.

It’s also being an ambassador for the music. Martin Hayes spoke of feeling responsible for handing on a living tradition. But on the money level again, you earn by publicising the music. 🙂

Mollie

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Because they enjoy entertaining people — themselves included.

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Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

I used to busk. Definitely not 1st class now, was then most definitely not.

I did it for possibly three reasons:

a few extra bob;
a means of committing myself to solid practice for 1-2 hours non-stop;
just the experience of doing it in stations and subways in London.


I’ve no idea why first-class players do. Maybe the above contributors have covered it adequately.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Well I ‘ve only ever been a third-class musician busking, but I’d say if you need the money or do it plenty it’s hard to enjoy, or have much of a connection. If you’ve time to kill and aren’t relying on covering your bills with it, it can be really good fun. I’d guess many top musicians spent time busking as part of their development and it does feel refreshing to revisit one’s more carefree days.

Sad to say my positive memories of busking are less vivid than the aggravation, threats, abuse, and council or property company persecutions that went with it. On the other hand there’s something rather heartening about the fact that simply playing music on the street produces strong reactions of all kinds, positive and negative.

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I used to busk too. I think it’s really good experience for any musician. Boy, do you get immediate feedback. 😲

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Acoustics in open spaces or subways stops are usually otherworldly.

Add to that the reaction on peoples faces who are not expecting it, don’t know what the hell it is. Priceless

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Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

David Byrne, Talking Heads busked early on. For him it was to refine the art of performance. His musical
career was all about performance art.

I would like to busk (in a subway) one day - to get over my stage fright - but for the fear that some First Class (and Second Class) fiddler might happen by and I might see them roll their eyes in despair.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Na, Thanks for the link. Smiled from ear to ear!

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Maybe he has the hots for a Galway girl? 🙂

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I wouldn’t call myself a first-class musician by a long shot, but I have busked…

When you can make husbands and wives smile and dance; Or put a look of awe and wonder on a child’s face; Or make someone’s day by playing them something they never thought they’d hear live; Showing someone a world they didn’t even know existed… Bringing brightness or tears to people’s eyes remembering their loved or their lost…

Music is a gift that we can share with everyone, not just those that buy our CDs or our concert tickets. Busking was wonderful.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Now I got it. "The music of what happens … is the finest music in the world."

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I’d have to agree with Fiddlelearner, the idea of creating great music where people aren’t expecting it, in the street or subway, giving them a glimpse of something special as they go about their day, that’s a ray of light coming unexpectedly to someone as they run their daily grind. It definitely spreads joy.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Of all the kinds of musical exchanges, I can’t imagine there is anything quite as immediate and raw as busking. There are no buffers to separate you from the audience. No lights, sound support or staging. It’s you and your instrument and the thongs passing by. Most, I assume, ignore the efforts of musician, however, every so often a stranger walking by is hooked but what the musician is doing and stops to appreciate the moment. I would imagine that human connection, brief as it may be, is worth all the time and effort put in by the musician.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

thongs? LOL. Throngs. Although thongs would make for a more interesting crowd.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Looking at this differently…why not?

Is there some underlying difference between first and other classes? This concept seems to be present in most of the arts. The best do something because it is what they do- paid, not paid and with whoever they please. Others do it, view themselve as something special, climb to some other state of being, become mediocre and sell vegomatics and such on television or get a PBS pledge drive gig. Or in the States run for Congress .

Can we now do a post on the color scheme endemic to the inside of a ping-pong ball?

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

"Is there some underlying difference between first and other classes? "

yes.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

I get fed up of musicians being ‘classified’. Some extremely popular musicians bore me to tears, others I love hearing. I think we have to acknowledge our own subjectivity.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Actually, Cormac was only "busking" on the street to promote a show he was running in Galway called "Tunes in the Church" and wasn’t doing it for money in a direct busking sense to the best of my knowledge. Does that mean he wasn’t technically busking and just doing PR? ;)

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Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Jusa, that was the best typo ever.

If you busked outside a strip club, then you may get thongs passing by.

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‘classified’ musicians are the ones you’re not allowed to hear for at least thirty years, aren’t they?

Thanks to Wikileaks they’re all over youtube now, of course.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

LOL - Dr Spear - perhaps busking in Miami?

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Cool thread! I busk with my harp at summer Seattle farmers’ markets, and the best part of it is not the cash or cd sales, it’s the little (and some big!) kids who slow down, stop, let their eyes bug out (and I could still be setting up!) and say, "I’ve never heard/seen/been this close to a harp", or "What is that"? Either way, I get off my little bench and invite them to sit down. Um, they rarely refuse! One of the best folk-harp builders in the US is here (Dusty Strings) and I am always sending people their way…once in a rare while I hear back from DS that someone has walked away with a rental harp and directions to a good teacher. Yeah. It’s about ALL the things posted above…practice time, appreciative folks, a few bucks, and that really really ‘feel good’ feeling that comes from sharing something beautiful that you love with others. Oh, and I am most certainly NOT a first-class harper! But I play the music I’m currently working on more quietly than the ones with which I’m more competent; it all works!

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Years ago I was sitting on the platform at the train station in Wilmington,Delaware. It was the middle of the afternoon, there was not another soul in sight and I had an hour or so to kill, so I broke out my guitar and started practicing the Bach lute suite I was learning. Within five minutes a cop was there,came up to me and asked "How much is this concert of yours going to cost us?" I mean, it was literaly just the two of us. I thought of a bunch of comebacks like"Ten dollars per person" or" I charge by the note" but for once discretion was the better part of valour and I said"No concert, officer,I’m just practicing" and off he went.
I have busked in New York, London,Paris and Berlin and gotton no hassles, just some change and an appreciative audience, but in Wilmington,DE, you better get a permit.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Ireland is, of course, a sort of heaven for buskers.

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

5stringfool wrote: "I have busked in New York, London,Paris and Berlin and gotton no hassles, just some change and an appreciative audience, but in Wilmington,DE, you better get a permit."

I’m not a first class musician, but I’ve busked in Toronto and played for tips elsewhere, just for fun.

But I wish busking was more accepted here in the U.S. I’ve seen a little in Portland, Oregon but very little in most towns.

Makes me wonder where it’s welcomed, where it’s common, and where it’s not. I’m most interested in the U.S., but it would be interesting to see an interactive world map where busking frequency was plotted, sort of like temperatures or population density are plotted.

Anyone working on a PhD in Busking Studies?

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

"Anyone working on a PhD in Busking Studies?"
Ooh, now that’s program that I’d like! What a great reason to travel and experience music (own and others) around the world!

Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

One of the most worthy and interesting threads I’ve ever rad on these pages——and thanks Na Eisk for a totally cool UK toober.

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Re: Why do first-class musicians busk?

Some day DCU or Limerick Uni might start buskology courses.