Give It A Go - Busking
I’m not a stranger to performing in public. I have played gigs in plenty of pubs, performed at music festivals and taken the stage at local venue The Stomach.
I have even played in The Square before, for a show in 2008, which was reviewed by someone from the Manawatu Standard long before I worked there. My performance was ‘‘truly awe inspiring’’, or so the review said.
Busking is something completely different. It is unorganised, unstructured, and weather dependent. Also, drummers usually make too much noise.
However, there is an upside - cash. Always being a fan of supplementing the income, I thought I would give busking a go.
But playing drums on your own can be boring.
Who wants to listen to someone just bash drums for an hour or two, apart from other drummers?
So, to up my chances of actually making some money, I enlisted guitarist Harry Lilley.
Harry is a bit of a busking icon these days. You can usually spot him out and about - maybe by Downtown or The Plaza - jamming away some blues-inspired riffs, his long blonde hair and shades providing some cover from the midday sun.
We decided to head to where the people were.
Setting up was interesting. We picked a good spot - in the shade of the statue of Te Peeti Te Awe AwentsTnte - and chucked a few coins in the guitar case to make us look at least semi-competent.
A quick band meeting to decide what to play, and we were away.
It all was quite awkward at first. At a concert, a vocalist would let the crowd know you were there. The crowd then turn around and away you go.
But people milled past, minding their own business, all while probably thinking, ‘I hope they don’t get any louder’.
It was a bit awkward playing. Was I too loud? Too quiet? Or was simply being there the issue?
But I should not have worried. People started to crowd around, feet started tapping, heads began bopping and some kid started dancing behind us.
Seeing people enjoying themselves helped me loosen up, which helped me start to have fun.
The money also started to flow. People were in a generous mood, putting plenty of $5 notes into Harry’s guitar case.
About 90 minutes later, we decided to call it a day. I quickly packed up, moved the car and met Harry at a cafe to grab a drink and divide the loot.
After flicking through the coins - which included a few five cent pieces - we worked out we had made a tidy sum each. Probably enough for me to pay for a few lunches, plus a bit left over in change for some other buskers.
While it was nice to make some money, it was more fun to share a bit of music with some people so they could enjoy their day nearly as much as I did.