Are you ready to busk? Just as a new proposal aims to criminalise street culture and busking in Chester, here comes National Busking Day, which takes place on Saturday 23rd July 2016.
National Busking Day is a timely reminder of the importance of busking for the culture and vibrancy of our towns. We'll have a look at what it's all about, what's the best busking gear now and hear from Liverpool busker Tom George.
We are all used to the sight of buskers on our streets. Some of us enjoy it, a minority don't, but most will agree they certainly make Britain's streets more vibrant and alive. Now, street performers all over the UK will come together on July 18 for the first ever National Busking Day, an event that will see towns and cities including London, Liverpool, Exeter and Cardiff taking part, with performers using spaces including railway stations, shopping centres and parks.
London mayor Boris Johnson is driving the initiative, and said he hoped the day will “encourage all cities around the UK to value our fantastic street performers even more”.
Hopefully, this represents a positive shift in position, because London, like many other towns and cities, has tried to impose restrictions on busking, as the Keep Streets Live campaign always strives to highlight.
As Liverpool busker and poet Tom George (@tomgeorgearts)told us:
"A lot of local authorities put pressure on buskers in the UK, as they tend to want to suppress activity which feel interferes with the retail experience. This has resulted in a spirited fightback by buskers, particularly in Liverpool"
The busking community has indeed been very united in the past few years, fighting for their rights, as shown on this video made by Tom, about the busking protest that took place a few years ago in Liverpool:
Since 2012, things have changed in Merseyside, and local buskers and their small victories in towns across the UK are responsible for making people such as Boris Johnson support new initiatives such as National Busking Day!
Trafalgar Square in London will be the centre of the day’s activities, with a line-up of singers, dancers and physical theatre performers. National Busking Day also sees the launch of the Busk in London festival, which runs over three consecutive weekends in July and August.
If you're out and about tomorrow, check one of our PMT Stores, some of which will be preparing activities and offers for the day! Contact your local PMT House of Rock for details.
DO YOU WANT TO BE A BUSKER? HERE'S HOW TO BECOME ONE...
1) The Right Gear
Anyone can be a busker. Whatever instrument you play, if you got the flair for performance and think you can entertain people, why not give it a go!
We've seen all sorts of buskers, but, obviously, the most commonly seen are the ones playing an acoustic guitar. You can also use an electro-acoustic plugged to a portable, battery-operated amp, such as the VOX mini amps. The advantages of portable amps is that they usually allow you to plug a microphone as well, which helps those who don't have a powerful singing voice, or who just want to play that little bit louder!
The most popular busking amp is, without a doubt, the Roland Cube Street models, which we see all the time on our streets!
Whatever you choose - make sure to always carry a guitar tuner too, after all, you'll want to sound good in front of people! The new TC Electronic Polytune Clip-On tuner is the best one around at the moment.
2) Day Or Night?
Most buskers prefer to play during daytime. A long Summer day is the perfect opportunity to showcase your talent and try to get some money - after all, with lots of people out on the streets, you are bound to get lucky!
On the other hand, playing at night can have some advantages, too. And some disadvantages worth bearing in mind...as Tom George explains:
"I often busk at night on the weekends because drunk people are much more generous. But it's much more unpredictable at night, I have had guitars stolen and turf wars with beggars and other buskers."
3) Don't play guitar? No problem!
Perhaps because acoustic guitars are so popular, buskers who play something different can stand out more easily: whether they play violin, banjos, resonators, drums or even a kazoo! So don't be put off - if you can play well and entertain people, maybe busking is for you!