Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Recommended Posts

I have a strong interest in busking and 'street music'. I would be very interested to hear of anyone's experience busking with the concertina. Any first hand experience and tips would be most welcome.

 

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a strong interest in busking and 'street music'. I would be very interested to hear of anyone's experience busking with the concertina. Any first hand experience and tips would be most welcome.

 

I've done it periodically. Fun, if you have a place with both high traffic and no legal hassles. No fun if you have fend off the local constabulary. I like to go with someone else -- usually a fiddler. We have a local art center with a big wharf area out back where buskers are common and accepted, and the crowds are generous. Of course, our earnings never survive the post-busking trip to the local fish house/pub.

Edited by Jim Besser

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've done lots of it on hammered dulcimer, primarily in Santa Cruz, California in the early 1980's. I occasional tried on concertina as well, playing a few times with a Celtic harp player (Steve Coulter). I generally made decent money on the hammered dulcimer, but not on concertina. And Steve told me that he enjoyed playing with me and liked the duo sound better than the sound of his harp alone--but said that he brought in significantly more money playing alone than when I was with him.

 

So not a ringing endorsement of the idea, but that was my experience. And I should add that no discussion of concertina busking would be complete without a mention of this article about one of our comrades from nearly 150 years ago. He played with a harp player too and apparently had better luck than I.

 

Daniel

 

I have a strong interest in busking and 'street music'. I would be very interested to hear of anyone's experience busking with the concertina. Any first hand experience and tips would be most welcome.

 

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a strong interest in busking and 'street music'. I would be very interested to hear of anyone's experience busking with the concertina. Any first hand experience and tips would be most welcome.

My experience has been mixed.

I have occasionally busked with others, but mostly solo.

I play concertina and whistle, and I sing.

 

I do it for the enjoyment -- both my own and that of those passersby who obviously do enjoy what I do, -- not for the money. (I joke -- though it's quite true, -- that I make enough busking to put food on the table, but not enough to pay for the table or the room it sits in. :))

 

As Jim B. suggests, the key -- as in real estate -- is "location, location, and location." Well, it's also timing. Here in Helsingør I sometimes busk during the midday shopping hours on a Saturday, but rarely at other times, both because there are fewer generous people and out of consideration for the residents above the stores.

 

There's one corner that's fairly good even in December. In the summer there are maybe three other locations which are worth trying, but that's it. The local square, with lots of folks in outdoor cafes, is surprisingly dry. People listen, but rarely come over to put money in my case, and I'm not the sort to go up to them with my "hat". I still play there, though, because there's also a market on Saturdays, and some of the merchants are fans of my music.

 

I've tried busking in other places: Copenhagen, Heidelberg, New York.... They're not just different from town to town, but from corner to corner. Some folks like one kind of music and not another; others are the reverse. (At New York's South Street Seaport, unaccompanied shanties were a hit. Here in Helsingør, most folks seem to think that songs must have accompaniment, but they like the concertina for that.) And different sorts of people will pass the same location at different times of day.

 

Experiment. Try to find the folks who like what you do... and thus the locations and times where those folks pass by but also have time to stop for a while and listen. The little money I make, I consider a bonus. What keeps me going back to the street is the smiles, the conversations, and the occasional dancers... children of all ages.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't forget the option of indoor sites. I have had great luck with a local bookstore that has a coffee shop in one corner. Of course, check with management first :) In that venue, tunes played quietly enough that the patrons can talk to each other comfortably seem to work the best.

 

And consider this: the last Harry Potter book is coming out this summer. I made a respectable amount of money ($25) dressing up as one of the characters and playing (mostly) Irish tunes at my local Hastings bookstore during the release party for Book 6.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a strong interest in busking and 'street music'. I would be very interested to hear of anyone's experience busking with the concertina.

Not really what you asked for, but I think you might be amused by an anecdote on this web page:

Search down the page for the word "French".
:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have occasionally busked with others, but mostly solo.

On reflection, I realize I've actually done quite a bit of busking with others.

We called ourselves Morris dancers.
B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a strong interest in busking and 'street music'. I would be very interested to hear of anyone's experience busking with the concertina. Any first hand experience and tips would be most welcome.

 

Michael

Michael,

 

a) My experience with busking has always been on the passerby side rather than the playing. I always toss in a buck or more, just to encourage the behavior. ('toss' as a euphemism for 'flinging of cash')

 

B) if the playing is good, interesting, and the musician is 'serious' at some level about their playing I will stop and stay for some time, and keep throwing money in. (or ask 'Do you play 'Rocky Top?')

 

c) I would be/am surprised to hear that concertina busking would actually draw less cash and coin than some other instrument. Is the harpist possibly able to be more flamboyant alone, and is rewarded for that style?

 

d) tune list for the pleb masses: recommendations on title, number, style?

 

e) play requests or remain committed to a tune list? requests may bring in cash, but I would think could lead one astray to 'No, not like that!' comments

 

f) I am surprised at how much I can write about something I know so little about.

 

Del

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
:D Old Music hall tunes always go down well,they bring a smile to peoples faces and they'll start humming or singing along. The 'Captain Pugwash' tune ( Trumpet Hornpipe ) is another tune to raise a smile :D Apart from that look clean, dress smartly and beam happily at the passers-by even if they don't put money in the hat..... sometimes they come back and give after a few minutes. If you treat it as an opertunity to practice and meet new people with any money raised as a bonus then you won't be dissapointed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thankyou for all your input. I thought the story of the lawyer seen busking on the street was particularly good. It's a shame that busking has decreased overall in recent years. It seems to be more accepted in other countries than in the U.S.

 

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thankyou for all your input. I thought the story of the lawyer seen busking on the street was particularly good. It's a shame that busking has decreased overall in recent years. It seems to be more accepted in other countries than in the U.S.

 

Michael

 

In San Francisco Busking is big and commercialized. Mostly concentrated in the touristy areas, like Fisherman Warf. City hired musicians on various stages. With rare exceptions: once (only once) I saw a guy with self-made plate of stem glasses, playing classical pieces (very decently). There was one black guy, beggar type, in front of Girardeli Square, playing guitar and coming up with all kinds of funny rhymes on the spot. You'd be walking by, and he'd be reciting a few verses about you. Pretty good. He picked up a few phrazes in various languages and throws them at people, he suspects to be foreigners. He started speaking Russian to me and held on for a few minutes, even understanding my replies. I assume he's some sort of street celebrity, because he had pictures of him with 'World Politicians (including Gorbachev). But I haven't seen him for awhile.

Once I saw two white guys, totally drunk and looking sick and unwashed, unloading real guitar gear on the street corner. On my way back they were playing superb rock-n-roll from the 50ies. Probably the best playing I heard live Cable car stations on both ends feature some sort of busking activity.

But the people are usually the same, probably have to pay their street overlords. Pretty grim.

I haven't yet seen clean cut, happy well to do busker, doing it for the reasons of culture. At least for a while now. There was one athletic looking homosectual dressed in torn stalkings, playing violin in Subway and in Golden Gate Park on Sundays, but now he's nowhere to be found.

But the funniest encounter I had in Downtown. There was black beggar, out of himself, on the chilly corner, pretending to play Hohner Corona. He was pressing buttons, mimicking and showing all kinds of emotions. The most amazingly, at times he sounded pretty well. But overall the tendency is not to attract buskers, but to chase them away. Too much loud music is already blasting in the Quiet-to-be places.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In San Francisco Busking is big and commercialized. Mostly concentrated in the touristy areas, like Fisherman Warf. City hired musicians on various stages.

Then that's not really "busking", as I understand the term.

(But I'm not going to use the "d" word.
:D
)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In San Francisco Busking is big and commercialized. Mostly concentrated in the touristy areas, like Fisherman Warf. City hired musicians on various stages.

Then that's not really "busking", as I understand the term.

(But I'm not going to use the "d" word.
:D
)

 

I don't know what D word you are not going to use, but the City apparently just wanted to put various beggars (buskers among them) in some sort of order. So those who play on stages, look quite wind battered. I think it's illegal to play on street corners in SF.

It's also illegal for beggars to obstruct your way, so they are standing on the sides of sidewalks and usually put a smyly face on. What a drastic difference from NY!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×