Reflections on Busking Western Europe (Part 1 of 3)
I’ve been meaning to write a reflection of this summer’s busking adventure.
Meaning to, but I’ve had a hard time getting it done.
Do I talk about all the highlights? Is the daily grind important enough to reiterate? If I didn’t like a certain spot, can I confess this? How do I include the moments of pain without eliciting pity or disdain? How do I admit to not liking certain parts of the summer, without leading you to think I don’t like busking? Can one be jaded and naïve at the same time?
It’s easy to get stuck on the minutia of how we lived and that can be tedious.
But the adventure’s in the details. All those hours of planning, scheming, walking, traveling, hitchhiking, riding buses, busking 2-4 and 5-7 or sometimes less, or sometimes more, looking for a place to sleep, meeting new people, attempting to talk a foreign language, followed by more planning, scheming, walking, a little rehearsing, busking. In a nutshell, that was our trip.
Y’know, and some unmentionable pleasures.
Q: Did we want fame and fortune and everything that goes with it?
A: Are we the champions yet?
It’s a hard life that busking. If you want to earn your keep you work it like a job. And in Europe, where we didn’t know how to find resources if we were down and out, where we couldn’t work any side hustles (such as selling junk on Ebay), where we didn’t have our own van to crash in or hide in when we needed to get away from the public eye, it got to be pretty high stress.
But oh it can be a thrill to live that way! Maybe we’re disaster divas, but I feel giddy about what we did.
Our planned tour was insane ambitious, and only possible to continue if we made more cash. Unfortunately we set ourselves up to look amateurish, and hence were treated like amateurs, even if it was the royal treatment for amateurs. Let me just say, a sure way to sabotage busking success is hanging around town all day with big ass backpacker packs and eating bread and cheese on the sidewalk.
But oh it can be a thrill to live that way!
We certainly can’t pretend that we didn’t plan to sleep on the side of the freeway or dry off in a coffee shop after walking through the rain.
We can’t even say that we weren’t curious to see what would happen if our gear broke down or our laptop got stolen, because it breaks up the monotony of all that work.
But hey, I want to be candid about some of the downsides of this lifestyle. Because I need to apologize to you for not getting all the Kickstarter rewards out on time. We need to apologize to ourselves for not networking extensively in Europe or creating more online buzz for the tour we embarked on. It was supposed to be East Cack Busks the World, not East Cack Busks Western Europe and then gets stuck in England!
And all that I do regret.
I’ve been expecting some sort of backlash from it all, but nothing. So I’ll preempt. I’ll try to explain.
But what can I say to explain it that doesn’t sound like an excuse?
I can point out the video camera breaking on the way to Chamonix. But the truth is there was a whole couple months of tour before this happened.
Of course, I can blame the endless rain our first month of tour. But the truth is we should have been better prepared.
Sure, I could easily gripe about all the hours we spent hitchhiking. But truthfully, we didn’t have to travel that much.
I do wish we started with more resources. And it’s awful to have lost all the photos, videos and musings with our fancy laptop.
(Just so you know, we do plan to get music, writings and video out to you by summer. But I’ll leave that for another post…)
But the summer wasn’t all about loss and hardship.
We kept ourselves alive and thriving on a busking income! We made a complete loop around Western Europe! We got back into England with only 60£ in our pocket!
And we gained a hell of a lot of stories.
The best stories happen when you’re down and out and rise above.
Oh the stories we have!
(Stay tuned for part II)