Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thing 130 Busk

There's a significant difference between good buskers and bad buskers - good ones view busking as a gig. They prepare, they've got a plan, they use their talent and they make some money. Bad buskers don't do those things - bad buskers play music on the street. And make you want to punch them in the head. That's kind of a talent right? Example of the second kind: didgeridoo players. I'm sorry mate, but that instrument doesn't actually carry a tune, so you're set-list isn't what one would call varied. The first ten minutes sounds exotic and unusual, the second ten minutes sounds like the first ten minutes, the third ten minutes sounds like impending violence...

Top Cat falls into the first category. He meticulously plans his busking session. He also generously allows his less talented friends to tag along of a muggy Saturday to "play the guitar" and sing a few songs. In order to get the feel for it, we did a rehearsel last night to pick the songs that suited me. Which is fine, sitting in Top Cat's living room, singing at the wall. It's not the same outside the Tourist Office in Limerick, people expect things from buskers - like talent and stuff... I've been on stage before, but this is a different kind of nerves.
It's the new thing for the tourist office. It's got its own little coffee shop and ice cream parlour. And of course, Top Cat makes his appearance Thursday to Saturday. Kind of ruins it to have some bum bring along his guitar to "play". I was afraid I'd scare off the tourists.
Setlist (in this order):
Wild Rover
Black is the Colour
(Galway Girl - because some kids walking by screamed at us for it...)
One Week
Folsom Prison Blues
Irish Rover
Green Fields of France
I'm Yours
Sweet Home Alabama
(July an encore... what a very generous and forgiving audience to ask for one of these...)

Our audience was a nice old man, who sat reading his paper, practically ignored us, and then made his way over to fire a handful of change in. Sound out. I thought we were ruining his day. Two Italian ladies who sat down after the old-timer had left and made the calf eyes at Top Cat - all the ladies do! There was Blond Boss, Spinette and Pixie Head who made lots of noise for us, and of course, my biggest fan turned up. My mom. Thanks ma. That's some heavy duty moral support. There were others too. Tourists passing in and out of the office, some locals walking in the park behind, a very hairy wino seemed to be loving it from a park bench, though it was hard to tell. He might have been talking to himself...

As I said, it's got its own type of nervousness. You're pretty much putting yourself out there for judgement. Takes a good solid type of musician to pull it off. That's why Top Cat gets full marks from me. He's got what it takes to do this regularly, I think I'd need way more practice before I'd feel comfortable, and I'd need someone like Top Cat next to me all the time. I just don't think I'd have the confidence to pull it off.
By and large though, buskers add a lot to a city. If they're good, they pick people up, put them in a good mood, add a buzz and positive vibe. Music's great for that stuff. If they're bad buskers, well, some of them will only do it once, and never bother you again... I promise! I'll not bother you again!

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