Busking - playing for tips on the street

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Alex_C, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    I was one of the 25 that listened, and she sang a medley of Stephen Collins Foster songs as are in the public domain. She had a great voice and keyboard proficiency ... but even in that area I wouldn't say there are that many who would favor the repertoire she presented that Friday evening.

    No, that park is going downhill now even faster with budget cuts in this economy. There is no longer a Parks facilities manager that arranged for the entertainment at that bandstand and rented the other pavilions. The grounds maintenance staff has been cut in half, the children's monkey cage, spin-table, see-saw and sliding board have been removed due to insurance liability increased rates. Too, the park is now closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The Little League ball field segment of the park operates on a foundation grant, not support of local taxes.

    Clubs and other venues I once knew are either shuttered and derelict or they have been demolished to make way for other development which subsequently also is now in severe decline.

    Such isn't any different elsewhere and I'm not there, so don't lay that on me. With my present health, I consider it fortunate to have a day where I can get out to sit on our front porch for awhile. Moreso, when a neighbor or friend stops by to chat.

    If you want to play music where you are ... it's your problem ... not mine ... and I did nothing to contribute to your shortcomings.
     
  2. Kayin

    Kayin Pianissimo User

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    I feel your pain on the health problems, and I pray your health improves.

    Glad we didn't have to get off on the wrong foot there. I understand you, even if not everyone else here understands the process presented here.
     
  3. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

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    Ditto that!
     
  4. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

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    I busked for a summer up in a small town (10,000) in British Columbia and loved it. I wasn't playing trumpet, but acoustic guitar and singing. It was not much money but it was consistently fun and interesting.

    I remember it was very tough to get enough volume though, competing with traffic, big trucks and motorcycles and the like. In that town, you needed a busking license ($30 a year) and no amplification was allowed.

    If you took a trumpet out on the street like this, I think it would be a lot easier to be heard, and from a greater distance. People walking down a street, if they could hear me from a little ways away, like half a block, often dropped coins without stopping. And Canada is nice for buskers with their loonies and toonies (the $1 coin and the $2 coin, respectively).

    I wouldn't however, for any reason, want to take a trumpet out and play it in public, especially alone, if I sounded like crap (which is approximately where I'm at now, having started playing trumpet just 2 months ago). I don't think I could handle the embarrassment of that and I certainly don't agree with anyone who thinks it doesn't matter what you sound like on the street.

    I think it's a great thing to do .... People often enjoy the more festive atmosphere that gets created with musicians on the street. Some of the really good buskers, who had a gift for performing and did some of their own writing, made good money even in that small town over the summer.

    But I clearly remember there being precious FEW brass or wind players out there on the street. When one did show up, it was usually a real treat. They were usually good musicians. One guy with his tenor saxophone was great and another solo trumpet on a corner was so soulful and haunting as to make you cry.

    I say GO FOR IT.

    turlejimmy
     
  5. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    Thanks for your concern Kayin. Frankly, if I could walk down the street playing a trumpet or any brass horn, it would be joy ... and durn any money. Still, again I'm not adverse to a reasonable license fee ... really such is a status symbol of a professional vis doctors, lawyers, etc. to practice. Such also says I'd be entitled to a "professional fee" for the service I perform. Ha! Ha!

    Yup! The buskers who are really good are often invited to upgrade to better venues. I sat in with a coffee shop group that clearly stated on their signboard that they played for tips. Drums, keyboard, reeds and me on brass. I really didn't expect to get paid anything as I was jamming, but in an hour and a half walked away with a hundred dollars pocket money. Coffee shops tend to be a lot less rowdy than a roadhouse filled with hard drinkers where we played behind chicken wire for our safety. I've also done some "open mike" venues for gratis ... trumpet and voice. Been around and look back with pleasure ... but such was mostly in my much younger and healthier days.
     
  6. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

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    Gilroy, California
    This little coffee shop on University Avenue in Palo Alto, CA had an old guy who'd play a cornet, he was OLD, his lips looked AWFUL, and he was GOOD. He'd put down the cornet, pick up a guitar, and play a guitar song or two between playing the horn, I think to give his lips/lungs a break. Word was, he was making about $85 a night, and I think he was doing it to get out and be among people as much as for the dough. Wish you could have heard him, you'd have wanted to call the SWAT team on him, he was having fun and sounding good. I know one song was by R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders, because he said it was. That's gotta be a hanging offense right there.

    Now all you can do is sit on the porch and tell the kids to GET OFF YOUR LAWN!!!!!!!!!
     
  7. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

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    Turtle - Yeah I'd not want to be out playing if I sound like quap. But as soon as I'm decent I want to play with people, jam sessions, busking, whatever.
     
  8. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

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    This is an interesting discussion, but what's up with all the Copyright considerations? For buskers??? Making (hopefully) some spare change?

    Are you kidding me?

    WHERE is law and order so heavy on people playing someone else's music out on the street? I know my busking experience is very limited, but from where I was standing and playing, I couldn't imagine anyone caring, including the Writer.

    Turtle
     
  9. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    Well, had circumstances been just a bit different, that old man could have been me. One, it would have been a mandolin I played ... and you've certainly hit it on the head when you say many elders seek companionship. But ... in a closed venue ... it is the venue that is responsible to pay royalty fees for copyrighted performances in their establishment and usually they also have to have a special license from the locale for live performance and are so taxed at a higher rate. Sure, if the business numbers don't justify allowing live performance it's gone.

    As for our lawn ... there is no sidewalk from porch to the road ... there is no driveway ... and I can count on one hand without using my thumb the number of children in this town that would be of age to rove the streets. It would take both hands to count those so young as to be in strollers. Yes, we often drive around the house. Yes, the propane truck delivery drives up the side lawn too. And yes, our lawn is regularly mowed but not by either my wife or me ... we pay another to do so. I've been on the porch and noted as many as six vehicles parked on the lawn, none ours. Neighbors and friends come by to visit and we jaw jack and a few want to listen to some of my CDs ... including my performances. Sometimes, when the spirit is right, we'll all sing along. No, I don't keep any drinking alcohol in the house ... anymore. I do stock regular Coca-Cola for the man who mows our lawn ... a retired state corrections officer. One other, likes the diet variety, and most like iced tea. The azaleas and roses are past blooming now, as are the daffodils and crepe myrtle trees. The pomegranite tree is beginning to bear fruit, and the date bush is midway to bearing. The high bush geranium is so laden with its blue flowers that it dips to the ground.

    Not in our yard, but there are trees in this town (and the area) that are taller than 6 stories with a trunk diameter of more than a yard. I don't know the specie. Most trees in the area are yellow pine, but there is also hemlock, cedar, cypress, fir, and spruce. Yes, when one gets old ... one spends time just looking at such. I read my news, rather than be bothered with all the TV commercials, and with few exceptions would rather read a book than watch a TV show.

    Just a reminder ... one day you'll be old also!
     
  10. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

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    Ed, sounds pretty fine the way you describe it - you are one lucky lucky man. :-)
     

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