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  • Busking

    You know after reading about busking in a few posts, I thought I'd ask how many do it. Theres a guy that does that in my town in front of a 7-11 type store all the time. He knows I play music for a living and always trys to get me to join him.
    I play to various size crowds all the time and never have a problem with it, bust Busking just scares the crap out of me. I bet it would have some benifits for playing.
    Maybe I could get one of the beards like that guy on, "brother where art thou" and no one would recognise me.

  • #2
    When I feel like giving it a try and want to try out new instrumental pieces, I walk into a local music store/pawn shop (mom and pop grocery stores are great too) and ask permission to hang out in the front, for kicks. I usually get permission. Prop up against the wall and begin, or sit on my tailgate and play. The first few times, I wore really dark sunglasses and, in all truth, when I started feeling nervous, I either looked down at the fingerboard and didn't look up, or I closed my eyes. With the shades on, nobody noticed.

    Unless you have herds of street thugs, nobody is going to come up and smash your guitar because you missed a note, got a lyric a little wrong, or missed a chord change. Your average listener will know so little about actually making music that unless you let a small mistake throw you into a spin, they'll never have the foggiest idea that a mistake was made. It's also a really good way to overcome stage fright, of which I am a significant struggler. (Struggler? Well, it might not have been, but it's a word now). Get yourself a hat, a can, a bucket, guitar case, etc, set it down, and start playing. For me, the less I thought about it, the easier it was. In the beginning, I would sit on a bench outside of wal-mart and just play very quietly, barely loud enough for me to hear. Before long my confidence started climbing and I was playing at normal volume and even singing a little on certain numbers.

    About the only thing that still to this day makes me nervous is when I'm doing my thing and some guy walks up with his instrument to join in. I typically worry that 1, he's going to screw up my playing, 2, he's going to really outplay me, or 3, he's going to play the last half of one song and want cut in on the $15 I've collected in the can. Don't worry about it. Like I said, nobody is going to smash you or your guitar. Get some shades, maybe a hat, and do it. If you can stand in front of a crowd, you can play for a guy who's walking by and thinking much more about the list of things he needs to get in the grocery store than he is about you playing beside that grocery store.

    One major advantage to busking, you can try just about anything when you're doing it without tickin' off some gig manager. If you've got a new piece that you're not sure of, that's an excellent place to try it out. If it can get four or five people standing around showing approval, it'll be a great piece when you're on stage in your natural environment.

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    • #3
      Busking is fun, and a no-pressure way to try out new musical ideas.

      And, if you find the right spot, surprisingly profitable!
      God(s) bless the rest of the world(s), too

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      • #4
        Busking is a great way to try new types of music and make money. I know plenty of people who make substancial money on their day off doing this. Believe it or not, there are rules to this as well. Squatters rights etc. Certain locations are better than others. You never take someone's spot. Always survey the area in which you want to squat for a couple days to make sure that no one is a regular there. Also, at least in my book, no one had better come up and start playing unless invited. The players I know have an agenda that they want to accomplish. Someone cutting will meet with polite, but very strong resistance. There is usually nothing to worry about in doing this provided you pick a good location. If you look online, you will find all kinds of information about doing this successfully. Good luck
        Be always alert to the difference between righteousness and self-righteousness. We all have a tendency to cross the line from defender of the innocent to the attacker of the wicked. If you go looking for dragons to slay, it is surprising what will soon look like a dragon to you.

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        • #5
          anybody ever tried an Amtrak station (or know if they allow such)?

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          • #6
            anybody ever tried an Amtrak station (or know if they allow such)?


            Never have...I've had my best response/$$$ at flea-markets/swap-meets, tourist traps, and open-air eateries, in that order.

            YMMV, of course.
            God(s) bless the rest of the world(s), too

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            • #7
              By Amtrak are you talking long distance or commuter stuff. The train stations and subways are the best locations for cash, but it has to be the right stop. Being off by one stop can make all the difference in the world. I do not know about long distance trains, homeland security and all. Try it and find out. The most that can happen is that they ask you to stop. If you are respectful and compliant, there is usually never a problem. Commuting train stations are public property just like city hall. So you can be there. However each city has its own ordinances governing them. I personally love them. I usually come away with no less than $100 everytime in 2-3hr time. However like I said, and I learned the hard way, the stop makes all the difference. It is like fishing. You have to be patient at your spot. You cannot make any snap judgements. It could be the day. I will play the same spot two or three times at different hours before I give up.
              Be always alert to the difference between righteousness and self-righteousness. We all have a tendency to cross the line from defender of the innocent to the attacker of the wicked. If you go looking for dragons to slay, it is surprising what will soon look like a dragon to you.

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              • #8
                Here in the summer there are people lined up and filling all the available seats inside and out waiting for a train to Chicago.

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                • #9
                  I live in a tourist town and have been busking here for 25+ years. When I was a youngen` I hitch-hiked and rode trains around the US busking as I went. Up tempo stuff works the best imo, and it also helps to belt it out..I play in a street band right now with a washboard and banjo player. It`s great practice and we usually make at least gas and lunch money..

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                  • #10
                    Do you need a permit to busk? I was thinking about trying it this summer in the city square. Don't want to break the law.

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                    • #11
                      Do you need a permit to busk? I was thinking about trying it this summer in the city square. Don't want to break the law.


                      It's different in every city. In Burlington VT you can busk anywhere but Church St. To busk there, you have to audition for a permit and follow their (very) strict guidelines:

                      http://usmfiles.s3.amazonaws.com/phpT0b1ED/Street%20Entertainer%20Rules,%20Regs%20&%20Applica tion%20FY%2012.pdf
                      This here is my music what I make with my mouth and instruments and such

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                      • #12
                        Yowser! I was looking that over. They take Busking pretty serious.

                        It's different in every city. In Burlington VT you can busk anywhere but Church St. To busk there, you have to audition for a permit and follow their (very) strict guidelines:

                        http://usmfiles.s3.amazonaws.com/phpT0b1ED/Street%20Entertainer%20Rules,%20Regs%20&%20Applica tion%20FY%2012.pdf

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                        • #13
                          Do you need a permit to busk? I was thinking about trying it this summer in the city square. Don't want to break the law.


                          More and more cities are requiring permits. Your best bet is to call city hall. Alternatively, if you see someone busking at a park, open-air market,etc., you could just ask if they needed a permit and where they got it. (And don't forget to drop a few bucks in their jar or git case)

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                          • #14
                            I don't know... I'm kinda Chicken S--T. Maybe the deal is to pick out a medium exposure kinda place, see how it feels then move on? I guess pick out a spot down town, Take the guitar out of the case, leave the case open with a little seed money, then start wailing away? Someone will recognise me, call my Wife, and she'll have me locked up. Crazy Old Man On The Lose! Ha,ha.
                            I guess you take a beater guitar? Something nice may not look right? The Kay Resonator, or the Samik/Epiphone with the bolt on neck? Not the Martin or the Seagull.
                            Dress nice or look kinda homless? Clean shave or a shadow?
                            Oh Man! I'm getting close to doin it!

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                            • #15
                              I don't know... I'm kinda Chicken S--T. Maybe the deal is to pick out a medium exposure kinda place, see how it feels then move on? I guess pick out a spot down town, Take the guitar out of the case, leave the case open with a little seed money, then start wailing away? Someone will recognise me, call my Wife, and she'll have me locked up. Crazy Old Man On The Lose! Ha,ha.
                              I guess you take a beater guitar? Something nice may not look right? The Kay Resonator, or the Samik/Epiphone with the bolt on neck? Not the Martin or the Seagull.
                              Dress nice or look kinda homless? Clean shave or a shadow?
                              Oh Man! I'm getting close to doin it!


                              Go for it. As TAH said, it really is fun. And yeah, leave your Martie and Gull at home - take a beater of the sort you'd take to a park or campground.

                              I like the medium-exposure kinds of places, such as a city park where I feel relatively safe. Dress casually, but neatly.

                              Funnily, my first busking experience wasn't really busking at all. I just went to a park to play my git on a nice, sunny day. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, I was sitting on a bench near a fountain enjoying myself. Some guy walked by, stopped for a few minutes, smiled and dropped some coins into my case, which I'd left open. I decided "what the heck" and kept on playing. Loose change and a few dollar bills added up in a couple of hours.

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