Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Requests and Duets

Today was one of those really fun days, and it was all because of the requests and a duet.
When a really cute little girl asks you to play a song during your "there are too many trains right now and I'm tired" break, you get up and you play. And when she asks you to play Nicki Minaj, well you figure out the chorus to "Super Bass" on the fly. Well, at least I do. And even though you are most decidedly not a fan of pop music, when she asks you to, you even sing "Baby" by Justin Bieber (of which you ashamedly know almost the entire 1st verse and chorus).

This is an important lesson for me and any aspiring buskers out there: if the song is popular, even if you don't exactly like it or think it suits your style, it's helpful to know at least the 1st verse and chorus. Hey, "Baby" even got me a dollar. ;)
(And if you're a black female, especially if you have locks, just go ahead and learn some Tracy Chapman. I suggest "Fast Car".)

Now, on to duets. Sometimes you'll get really cool people who ask to join you. This handsome fellow pictured below was one of those types. We did a wonderfully harmonized rendition of "Landslide" (1st verse and chorus) before his train came and I had to finish the song solo, sans harmony. I can't remember his name, but it was a nice one.

Busking is really great fun because you get to meet so many different people and you stretch and grow as an artist and musician every day. Basically, if you can work up the nerve to prop yourself up in front of dozens of strangers in a non-venue setting, then I highly recommend it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Busker Face

There may come a time in the life of the busker when he or she may have to employ the "busker face". Essentially, this is the poker face of busking.

Example One: You are just getting into the groove of a song when you feel a piercing sting. You look around you. You have a choice to make. Stop and slap the offending bloodsucker of a mosquito that is attempting to drain you dry (once is never enough for them...), or employ your busker face, muscle through it, and tell yourself the dollars you make are worth it.
(My favorite bug moment was a couple Mondays ago when a cockroach decided to take center stage with me. I thought for sure I'd get a buck for not shrieking like a maniac when it paused by my mic stand...)

Example Two: Any time little kids or teenagers do something that isn't cute. Clearly the only option here is the busker face. No one actually wants to see you go off on some snot nosed little brat. They'll be much more impressed with and more likely to reward your saint-like restraint.

Now, one's busker face is unique to each person. It happens when you're trying to sell a CD to someone on the fence, or when you're fending off the occasional drunkard. It's in the smile you send the unsuspecting passerby who then feels obligated to tip you. It's in the moment you pretend you don't notice people staring at you and creepily taking pictures of you before sneaking off, and many other times. It grows, is shaped and then shaped again, and it is quite essential.

So if you're thinking of going down under, or even street performing, hone the craft of looking like all is easy-peasy even when you'd give anything to just go home but you haven't met your quota yet. :D