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The Busker


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A short, timid looking man wearing coke-bottle glasses walked up and down Vine Street last night with his guitar slung over his shoulder, hat in hand.

I was one of a couple hundred people standing in line waiting for the Avalon Theater to open to see Alice in Chains. We'd arrived at 7 p.m. sharp and were hanging out on the street making small talk with strangers when the diminutive, busker arrived. Another concert goer had brought him over to our section of the line and said, "This guy is good. He played for us and now he's here to entertain you. Make sure you pay him."

Well, one smart aleck young lady pipes up, "I'll pay you if you play some Alice In Chains."

Beaming with confidence he replied, "I don't know any Alice In Chains, but I do know some classic rock. How about the Who?"

He immediately started playing and singing "Behind Blue Eyes," one of my favorite Who songs.

People started to sing along on the sidewalk. Soon the dollar bills started flying into his hat. When he was finished everyone in ear-shot applauded. He was working the crowed and taking requests.

"Can you play any Clapton," a guy said.

"How about some Cream," was his reply. "I think you've heard of this one."

He launched into "Sunshine Of Your Love," and everyone started singing along with him. More dollar bills are put in the hat.

When he was finished he said, "Thank you very much, but I have more people to play for now," and he headed down the line.

We figured he had to have made close to $150.00 to $200.00 by time he was finished with the line. Not bad for an hour's work.

Oh... and that young lady who said she'd only pay him if he played some Alice In Chains—she lied.

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A talented Busker that has a good location and can read the crowd can make allot of money. a few months back I was at a Fleetwood Mac show and after the show there was a young girl busking she saw the older crowd coming and started in on classic rock with a heavy mix of the Beatles, Heart, and even Fleetwood's own songs. She was very good with great timing and cute as hell she looked and sounded like a young Jewel with a rock slant. The venue in Glendale Az was perfect with a huge crowd and tons of bars etc. so a large group of happy drunks that had just paid 40 bucks for T-Shirts so they were throwing 20 dollar bills at her she was cranking and I would guess she had somewhere around 400 maybe 600 dollars in her guitar case when security finally scared her enough to make her leave even though the crowd was preventing security from doing anything but glare. Not bad for a short street gig and I'd guess she was 15 maybe 16 so probably better than bagging groceries at a supermarket.


If youve never tried street music you should it's probably one of the funnest type of performing you can do, close to the crowd low tech and people have fun. they were not forced to pay 100 bucks for a ticket and 15 bucks for a beer so there happy and usually willing to show it. you better have skills though especially if your in a area that's used to street music expectations are still high unless your a crazy homeless person.

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If you're a fan, Alice In Chains was everything you could expect. The best part of it was the intimacy of the venue. I was standing between Will Duvall and Jerry Cantrell, even though everyone moved about and shared the stage equally. AIC was by far one of the best guitar experiences I've had in a while. Well known for his playing, Jerry Cantrell's performance was disciplined, polished by years of perfecting his craft. He did not use the SG shown in the band's latest video, but a black and gold Gibson Les Paul Custom, and several new (and very old) signature G&L Rampages. If you're a Gibson fan, Cantrell and Duvall didn't disappoint I counted three Les Paul's, a 59 Standard RI, Gold Top with mini humbuckers, and Jerry's Custom black beauty. The two also used Gibson acoustics. Duvall had what looked to be a Hummingbird and a Dove, and Cantrell played either a Songwriter of Songmaker. His singing, combined with Duvall's, was typical AIC.

Duval nails the late Lane Staley. Even his band mates were impressed. At one point base player Mike Inez commented to the crowd that, "Will really sings the s h i t out of that song."

It was worth standing in front of the stage for two hours.

Because of how I role, I'm sorry you don't get any pictures. I'm sure some will end up on Youtube soon.

Excellent performance.

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Thinking back about last night, other than the obvious hits played, my favorite part of the show was when the band played the acoustic stuff. I especially liked "Your Decision" off the new album Black Gives Way To Blue. Duvall played acoustic while Cantrell laid down some serious electric lead work with the Black Beauty.

When the band sat down for an acoustic interlude in the middle of the show, Jerry sat in the middle of Inez and Duvall. They played the title track from their latest and everyone knew it was for Lane.

Awesome stuff. Everyone sang along with "No Excuses." You had to or you just weren't cool.

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ha ha Good on the guy:)


I was a busker the last year of college and for the next two years after. So this story really resonates with me; although I only made similar money on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve too.


There was a tunnel I used to play in and I could hear peoples money jingling as they put their hands in their pockets about 100 feet away because of the echo.

I became an expert at being able to tell if something was a 50 p or a pound by the sound of the drop too LOL, I kid you not.


The only thing that knocked my concentration for six was mums with toddlers who would come and lean over and put money it. That could ruin the most rehearsed piece!



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Matt' date='

that's a great story.

I never knew that about you.

Being able to identify the coins as they were being fished from someone's pocket is amazing.[/quote']


Hi Californiaman


The good things about busking were that I got lots of gigs from it; weddings, private functions etc. The negatives were that it completely eroded my technique.


As a busker you are trying to make your music stand out and compete with all the surroundings and often have to play loud etc. I found that it took me a good 6 months or so to get my hands to get their suppleness back after having to play in all weathers (remember the weather of England too!)


One day while I was playing a man approached me. After I finished playing he told me he had been to the jewelers, and bought an engagement ring for his fiance (to be). He said he would pay for my travel (the journey was 20 mins on the train) and give me £30 if I was sitting playing Classical Guitar as his girl friend got off the train from work and he proposed. So many un usual opportunities are offered to you (no not those kind! :-k ) when you are a street musician.


(I had more gigs then than I do now! LOL)


I had finished my set anyway and it was an easy £30..and she said yes :) Off I went into London with my days earnings and ate pizza in Pizza Hut and went to my favourite pub in Leicester square, bought my favourite cigarettes malborro reds and felt I had really made it LMAO.




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