I'll do it. But it needs to start with videos posted in this thread. I'm happy to create a page, but I need some idea of what nut (so to speak) I'm starting with. There's no point in creating an absolutely blank page.
Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Deak? It was 69 degrees, sunny and beautiful here in New Orleans today-I would have held the camera for you!
Believe it or not, there are NO OMB harmonica players down on Royal St. the only harp players I ever see other than Grandpa Elliot(who mostly just sings), are two different guys who play on racks while playing guitar.
I gotta bum Harvey's pignose one day and just go bite the bullet, I guess. ----------
I've done the streets here in Atlanta years ago when I was broke as you can get and there were 2 problems. #1 The knobshaker cops always gotta hassle you and run you away from a good spot just about the time you've hyped the gaff and have the crowd ready to tumble. and #2 Other grifters and various criminal types will line you up for a heist if they spot that take. As for #1, all you can do is go away a few blocks and then get chased by another cop. As for #2, you better have a pistol toting permit and be ready to use it. Fortunately I never had to blast anyone although I did have to pull on 3 thugs one day..."okay, which one of you dies first". And they were OUTTA there. Those are the only problems here...the people by and large will eat it up and throw a dollar at you sooooooo quick. $100 a day is NOT out of the ordinary. It's been years though since I was out there..maybe 5-10. Always had a Pignose to play through. And a backpack with water, food, bandaids, extra harps, extra batteries, a rainsuit, and a big empty coke bottle to go into an alley with when nature calls. One of the best spots was at the public transportation stations called MARTA here, where the trains stop..but the cops there all think they're FBI so you gotta be ready to scamper when you see 'em coming. It was a lot of fun to me.
Isaac’s busking adventures sound like fun. The online artists’ colony known as Modern Blues Harmonica wants some footage. Getting too cold in North America; as an Aussie passport holder, I volunteer as the first ‘nut’ in this project. (I first picked up the harp as a teenager, but found my progress stalled and didn’t do much with it over the intervening years. Just in the past six months I have been learning a lot, thanks to Adam and Jason Ricci’s videos, so kudos to them for sharing their gifts so generously. I‘ve learned more in the past few months than the previous 30 years. I also realise how much I don’t know about this instrument, and how much I can’t do.) I wake at 5:30 full of excitement. A bee stings the sole of my foot. My wife has been trying to smoke them out of our cladding using a chimney made of chicken wire and aluminium foil, but that’s another story. I wear my flowery beach pants and a shirt with redback spiders all over it: something for the tourists. I am actually very shy by nature. Wearing this garish outfit will help me adopt an out-there stage persona, I hope. Hop the train and arrive at Circular Quay, just after 8. A huge cruise ship is docked, whetting my appetite. ‘Think of all the rich tourists.’ So even before I start playing, the first impact busking has on me is to see people as mobile ATMs. I have a pig nose, and an amp of the same name, which runs on 6 AA batteries. What I lack in talent I can make up for in noise. So I plug her in and start playing: my ‘Frankenboogie’, some of good Dr Gussow’s material (juke joint riff, Harlem riff, Sonny Terry thing), Swing Low Sweet Chariot (after JJ Milteau), When the Saints, Amazing Grace, and a few bluesy licks. Cruise ship passengers, joggers, cyclists come and go. No one stops. I keep playing. Half an hour goes by. Not a single coin has made its way into the hat, carefully seeded with $3-4. Oh well, if I don’t get any ‘tips’ I have just paid $6.40 train fare for a valuable learning experience. Then a hipster dude tosses some coins in my hat. Joy! I keep playing. A young woman does a little jive as she goes past. More joy. A few more coins appear. A lady asks if I do requests. ‘Silence?’ I venture. ‘No, I’ve been lying on the grass, listening, enjoying,’ she says. Can you do ‘I’m not afraid of dying?’ She hums a little. ‘I’ll try.’ Find a few notes. ‘That’s it,’ she says, drops a $2 coin in the hat and walks off. An old guy comes up and throws a few coins in. ‘Slow blues?’ he asks. I give him one. He nods, satisfied. A mother whose 6-yr-old has her fingers in her ears tosses some more coins. After an hour I am out of water and throat is a bit sore. But I am getting into the swing so I continue. I loosen up and move around a bit more with the music. The odd person nods and smiles as they go past. That is enough to keep me going. After two hours, I am quite hot (it’s 30 degrees; that’s 86 Fahrenheit) and decide I have had a successful first busk, so I pack up. There’s $16 in my hat, so I have made enough to pay for this trip and the next one too. Next time (there will be a next time), I’ll come a little later in the day. I will also make a sign, as my hat was dull coloured and not really visible. If you’ve been thinking about busking then just have a crack. Your future self will thank your current self… And as a busker, I of course welcome all your tips!
I spose you could put antifreeeze on the harp and go busking then? :) A Canajun couple I know moved back to Winnipeg from Oz because the husband 'missed the changing of the seasons.' Then one day he was shovelling snow on their driveway, and the wife said, 'do you still miss the changing of the seasons?' They moved back Down Under.
I have been playing the streets since the early 70's both here in the USA and overseas. Long story short, the streets are the best when it is right. Sadly laws are getting put down that shut us down. Here is a video that shows how much fun and interactive the streets can be. This was from last summer at the farmers market in our village. they close the street so there is no car traffic. I sell the homemade dog treats my special ed students make so it is more of a noodling gig than a real one. The old man, Ari, who was 94 and living independently died this winter. He loved my music and would always come to my gigs at the local pub. I would introduce him as my manager. He was from Holland and never really Americanized even though he came here after WWII. The sound quality is terrible but the idea is there. Walter
---------- walter tore's spontobeat - a real one man band and over 1 million spontaneously created songs and growing. I record about 300 full length cds a year. " life is a daring adventure or nothing at all" - helen keller
June 17,18,&19 is Central City Days here in Huntington, WV. It's a 3 block stretch of businesses that want The Harmonica Club to fill the streets with music. Last year, it was 3 to 5 groups of 1 to 3 players. The merchants pay $10/hour per man, plus you keep any tips(though don't expect much). It was kinda like getting paid to practice. It was fun last year, though a bit warm. (you never know about June) There were about 20 of us that worked different time slots over the 3 days.
If you want to join us on the streets, contact me at jrumbaugh at live.marshall dot com or via the club web site theharmonicaclub.com
---------- intermediate level (+) player per the Adam Gussow Scale, Started playing 2001
Last Edited by on Apr 23, 2011 7:40 PM
Thanks Miles. Went 'working the streets' tonight and got asked to sit in with a bluegrass band and did so when I was done. Not my usual genre but I had lots of fun. Oh how I love busking... Never know what's going to happen.
You gotta wonder what with you guys all dressed up in snazzy suits an'all......how generous were all the Bankers and Accountants with the tip jar. With the way the world economy is going at the moment they were probably thinking."there but for the grace of God go I" ;_) Good music guys.. enjoyed
Thanks for the kind comments, guys. @WeHarpin. Suits are left over from my (former) corporate career. Busking is a hell of a lot more fun. Get funny looks from people I knew in my previous life but NEVER tips. We just blast out some tunes to brighten up their grey days. @Jehosaphat. The bohemian end of town is actually far more generous, especially in relation to what they can afford. I go there at night some times. Always feel the love there. And I think you are right about the suited guys. They are looking over their shoulder for the corporate grim reaper. Especially when they recognise me. Then they run back to the office and work their asses off. Not that it necessarily helps. @Danny. Good stuff. Sure is fun playing out in public. I am kind of addicted now. I always make sure I have a pee before I start and a nice big bottle of water. Nothing worse than dry mouth. Cheers!
@BronzW, thats neat, i think you were on tv a few weeks ago doin something but i missed most of it, now i know roughly where you hang out i'll make a special trip from out west one day soon just to say g'day. I reckon you should buy some clothes from vinnies, i wouldn't give a cent to someone who looked like a banker/finance guy, nice slow bluesy playin btw. What a blast having Cristal come into the jam, she influenced me on youtube ages ago to buy a seydel BIG 6. Great post.
Last Edited by on Oct 20, 2011 8:14 AM
@jaymcc28. I suppose the recording missed the hook. It is "Juke" played on a C harp. I had changed a few things here and there fur fun.
@Bronzewailer - I agree, the absolute freedom to do what you want with instant monetary feedback is intoxicating. I've been itching to do it every day since... Just need the time and the weather... ---------- Danny
@Steamrollin'. It was a story on unemployment for the 7:30 report. Matthew and I are usually at Martin Place from around lunch on Thursdays, depending on weather and schedule. A couple of my harp friends including Christelle have dropped by and had a blow, so bring your harp if you want. I actually bought most of my ties at Vinnies, a habit started when I was a student in Tokyo. I have learned my kids to do similar. The suit is a kind of gimmick if you will, but a bunch of people have told me the love it. People ask if we are on our lunch breaks, and do we work in these buildings. I tell 'em I used to, but this is what I do now. The suit hasn't stopped Big Issue sellers and homeless people from giving me tips -- which I value most highly because of what they represent. I prefer busking in Newtown, which I do solo on Wednesdays before playing with some bluegrass boys at Madam Fling Flongs. I have another partner who I play with at Eveleigh Markets on Saturday mornings from around 10. So hi if you spot me. @ Danny. Yeah, you have fun, improve your chops, make money to buy the odd harp or two, and meet people, including guitarists! I have actually been hired off the streets to play a couple of gigs as well. Back to the woodshed now...
I have a busking tale I have to relate. A couple of months ago, a pair of lissom auburn-haired beauties dropped by and put some tips in the jar, stood and listened for a while and then invited me to... perform at their poetry slam. They wanted music for the awkward ‘in-between’ bits in the time before one performer had finished and the next one came to the stage. On the day I first played solos for about 10-15 minutes while people were coming into sit down, then licks of about 20 different songs in the in-betwens. It must have gone OK because they invited me back on Thursday for another slam, and things took a different turn. A woman from the UK who’d won the nationals there got a prize to fly anywhere in the world and chose Sydney. So she was there with her husband and baby, who was also a poet (the husband I mean). She did a few poems and then he came on stage. He wanted to plug in his i-pod, but there was nowhere to do so. So he got me to provide some beats (I did basic in and out chugging) while he did freestyling, asking the audience for suggestions. People held up books, things scrawled on pieces of paper, a string of beads, an i-Pad, and then, from the back of the room, someone was waving around an artificial leg. He never missed a beat, and rhymed about all that stuff. It was a madhouse I tell you, in a good way. There were funny poems, heart-wrenching poems, angry poems, and I learned more about rhythm by the way some of the lines were delivered. The moral of the story is: you never know where busking will lead you. Get out and do it folks!
Great story BronzeWailer! Great playing to (and to Kingobad as well!). It's just descending from insane temperatures (finally below 100F) here in AZ, so i'm gearing up again to hit the streets. I hope to get my stuff in order so I can play amped this year. I've got a decent battery powered rig but I'm still figuring out how to get the best tone out of it... Hopefully I can get some vids of it, and then I can join ya on this metaphorical corner! ---------- == I S A A C ==