This summer I have the good fortune of being allowed to hitch my wagon to the rising stars of the north, the female duo out of Fart St. John, Twin Peaks. I’ll be joining them on a summer tour around BC and Alberta, stopping in at a variety of coffee shops and watering holes along the way. Here’s a list of spots we’ll be gracing with our presence:
July 22 – Dawson Creek AB – The Alaska Hotel
July 24 – Grande Prairie AB – The Rabbit Hole – 8pm
July 26 – Edmonton AB – Lit Wine Bar – 8pm
July 28 – Red Deer AB – The Velvet Olive – 8:30pm
Calgary AB – TBD
Canmore AB – TBD
August 1 – Fernie BC – The Arts Station – 6pm
Creston BC – TBD
August 4 – Nelson BC – Cottonwood Market – 10am
Chilliwack BC – TBD
August 10 – Kelowna BC – The Grateful Fed
Salmon Arm BC – TBD
August 12 – Kamloops BC – The Grind Coffee House – 7pm
August 14 – Clearwater BC – The Blue Loon Grill – 7pm
August 16 – Quesnel BC – The Cariboo Hotel
August 18 – Prince George BC – Nancy O’s – 9pm
As you can see, there’s still a few blanks to be filled in, so please get in touch if you think you can hook us up with something in your neck of the woods.
This is the second blog post I’ve done now where I’ll be gushing about a musician friend of mine. The first one is here and focussed on my pal Lindsay Pratt. This next installment of what I like to call “Talking about people who are better than me” will focus on my friend Gordon.
When I lived in Victoria, I became close friends (I will even go so far as to use the term “Superfriend”) with an outstanding musician named Gordon McGladdery (AKA “Fat Jesus McG” or simply “Fatty”). Our musical tastes were pretty close with one another’s, and casual jamming soon sprouted into a full-fledged band. That was all well and good for a few years and then we all decided to call it quits. That was certainly not the end of Gord’s steamy love affair with music though. He’s since gone on to focus on his own home recordings, he provides all the music for a seriously cool youtube series, he’s written music for a couple of documentaries, and he won a full scholarship to Vancouver Film School for Sound Design. I’m probably forgetting a few things too, like the time he trained a bald eagle to toast bagels for him. Yeah.
Fatty’s music makes frequent twists and turns and drives forward with a frenetic momentum that’s as unpredictable as it is catchy. Odd meters, unusual harmony, epic build-ups, and the use of unique and interesting sounds have become the trademarks of his style, which I would describe as somewhere between Post-rock/electro/folk. Yes, that will do. But we’ll call it “Poroctrolk” from here on out for clarity’s sake.
Gord recently messaged me to see if I’d play some Omnichord on one of his new songs, and it turned out quite nicely. He’s graciously credited me on the track, even though I did hardly anything at all. Nice guy. It felt real cool to be able to collaborate with an old friend over the intertubez, and caused me to proclaim the title of this blog post for 10 minutes to my uninterested roommate.
So check out Gordon’s fantastic poroctrolk, and who knows, maybe you’ll be the next amazing music friend I gush about (probably not).
I’ve played guitar for 15 years, I’ve sang and played for about 12 of those, I’ve performed in bars and such for the last 7, and yet I had never tried my hand at busking until about 3 weeks ago. Was it thrill of playing for strangers that brought me out onto the street? Was the chance of wider recognition? Was it for the farts of the weird homeless-esque people who strut by? No, sadly, I am only in it for the money.
For the most part, that is. I also like the fact that I’m basically getting paid (not well) to practice my songs. And it is a lot of fun to see someone walk past who is genuinely enjoying your music, and perhaps even singing along if you’re playing a well known cover. Seeing as I’ve done it about 7 times now, I consider myself and expert and among the foremost buskers in the world, ever. So without further adieu, here are my observations and tips for busking success:
- Be competent: This seems simple enough, but really, a lot of buskers really need to work on their chops a bit more before they expect people to pay them anything.
- Either be amazing on your instrument, or sing songs people know: Now, I certainly don’t consider myself amazing on my instrument, but I did think that people would get a kick out of some difficult Travis Picking tunes that I’ve learned, but really, most people don’t really seem to give two shits about them. What they really like are classic songs that they know. Stuff by Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, The Band, and Fleetwood Mac have proven themselves popular with the good people of Baker Street here in Nelson. All that goes out the window if you’re some sort of virtuoso though. Then you can probably play whatever the hell you want. Actually, why the hell are you even busking if you’re a virtuoso. Moving on…
- Smile: This is probably the easiest thing I’ve been doing that seems to prove effective. Look happy. Even if you’re not.
- Children are a gold mine. Kids walked past and get friggin’ mesmerized by my guitar. Even if I’m just standing there, not even playing. When the parents see their kid staring at me like I’m some sort of golden god, quite a few of them stop to let the kid really soak it in, and then a few parents will give their kid a coin to toss in my case. So play stuff that won’t terrify children, and hell, maybe even engage them somehow. I dress like pennywise.
There it is, just a few simple tips that should increase your busking revenue by at least 3,000,000%, give or take a few pennies.