In my last post I alluded to street performance/street music/busking, and the difficulties street performers have in some places. I don’t know that I mentioned how much I enjoy these open-air entertainments, and that’s what this post is about.
A fair number of well-known musicians/performers got their start playing on the street, or “busking.” Here’s a partial list I cribbed from Wikipedia:
Joan Baez, Beck, Roni Benise, The Blue Man Group, Pierce Brosnan, Jimmy Buffett, George Burns, Tracy Chapman, Cirque du Soleil, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, Stephane Grappelli, Woody Guthrie,Bob Hope, Jewel, Steve Martin, Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Page, Penn & Teller, Gerry Rafferty, Edith Piaf, Simon and Garfunkel, Pete Seeger,Rod Stewart, Joe Strummer, Stomp, and Robin Williams.
I have fond memories of delightful street performances in Boston, and Charleston, and New Orleans, and other places.
The title of this post obviously refers to the idea of playing for tips, but also, as probably most anyone who reads this will know, to the movement/foundation called “Playing For Change.” I hope they don’t mind me using the title, I am an admirer of what they do. I got the following from their website:
“Several years ago, a small group of filmmakers set out with a dream to make a documentary film about street musicians from around the world. That dream has grown not only into a reality, but into a global sensation called Playing For Change, and has touched the lives of millions of people.”
The music video they produced of “Stand By Me” has pretty much gone viral, but if you go to their other website, you’ll find several others. Here’s “One Love”:
One instrument used in busking that I never heard of before writing this post is called the “hang drum.” Here’s a performance from Israel:
I hope that the tradition of busking continues to be respected, loved, and permitted. I think if communities demand that buskers be licensed, that the licenses should be free, or issued at nominal cost. Our world is just a little less wonderful when street performance is not permitted.
P.S. In recognition that not all street performers are musicians, here’s a picture of a “living statue” I took in at Waterfire in Providence, Rhode Island: