Tour Take Two

crapbot and east cackalacky in manchester england

Saying goodbye to Number 1, Oldham

Back on the road!

Yeah, yeah, okay, you already guessed…was it the slew of photos and happy smiling faces that greeted your Facebook feed???

C’mon kids! Take a seat at the kitchen table and grab yourself a cup of coffee; we’d like to share our strategy with you.

Mom and Dad have a plan. We want to take advantage of the hard work we did in England and we want to return to the States in style. We want to end our stay in Europe with more busking, and we need to finish all the writing, videos and music for the Kickstarter. This can only mean one thing: tour take two.

So we’ve picked ourself a finish line to cross. Are you ready for this? Our finish line is Copenhagen, July 30th, 2014.

Kids, we’re growing up a little. Y’know, it had to happen. We reigned in our ambitions and tour length to a reasonable amount. To help prevent us from killing each other, and to prevent us from attacking the gypsy on the corner who just took our mother-fucking busking spot again….

Eurostar from England to France

Trains will make us lean, meaning killing machines!

Two months of gallivanting around Europe seems just about perfect, and we know you’ll agree. It gives us enough pressure to get our bums moving, but won’t kill us. Right, did I mention, we’ve planned this whole trip to avoid any death?

This all means we must be sleek jaguar machines. No more hitchhiking around back country France like snails.

A big difference from last year. And I know you’ll miss all the stories of ‘how-we-got-stuck-in-the-middle-of-po-dunk-France,’ and we’ll miss the dash of unknown that comes with getting stuck in the middle of po-dunk France. But we won’t miss getting stuck………………..

Look, there’s still plenty of room for the unknown on this trip, so don’t worry your little hearts.

We’re still only planning a couple of days in advance. And we’re headed to Eastern Europe and Turkey, the lesser travelled, not as wealthy Europe where we could crash and become homeless all over again!

teh wild musician stalks its play

Mobile music setup for better recording.

In the middle we’d like to hit these European hotspots: Gdansk, Kaunus, Krakow, Budapest, Istanbul, Sofia, Romania, the Balkins, Northern Greece, Croatia, Prague, Austria and maybe another pass through Munich.

It’s still quite an adventure. Two months rushing through Europe. We’re feeling pretty damn excited about this one!

And, more importantly, we’ve planned it so there’s extra time for music. Last year that was one thing we missed out on – despite busking long hours, we didn’t really have any time to write or record we were so busy surviving.

One last thing – make no mistake. Our plans for world domination fester on!

That’s it, that’ all we have to say. Get back to work! I know you’re busy.

And watch out for The Cack.

 

 

crapbot in Oxford

Must sow the seeds of robotism around the world.

 

 

 

Challenges and Solutions for Busking Spain

zaragoza spain and the tower transitSpain is a really, really hip.

And it’s a really, really rough hustle.

We tried our best to busk it, but found many cities prohibited it. Of those cities that didn’t have busking bans, only San Sebastian was good enough that we’d return. And we can’t even be sure it’s legal there, we just never got stopped!

Some of the place we played, Pamplona, Tarragona, Girona, are very nice places and if you’re a tourist I’d recommend visiting! Plus, it is possible to make busking money in these cities, just expect to make 10-15€/hour on a good day.

The Mediterranean is too heavily policed to be worth your time. Although don’t take our word for it! Maybe the police are only attracted to saw and dancing robot.

Sometimes we got away with playing for a few hours before the cops shut us down. Sometimes we couldn’t even play one song. Sometimes we just saw the police everywhere and figured we had no chance. In Vilanova we saw some African guys get busted for selling their goods on the street and snuck out of the town with our instruments between our legs. We went to Blanes after Mataró failed, but changed our mind about playing when there was neither busker nor beggar in sight. By then we knew what that meant!

In Girona Tom was shut down in the square before he could play a note, and without a guitar case out to collect money. So after that, we stuck to the bridges, thinking we’d be safe from the cops.

But I really want to busk Spain!

the dino of girona spain is chasing the cack!It may be possible to get “permiso” if you’d like to play Spain. You may or may not be granted the ability to play in the cities, and it may or may not take one day to a couple of months.  You may or may not have trouble with the policía after this.

We only tried looking for permiso when we first got shut down in Zaragoza. When we arrived at the city hall, the security guard angrily informed us that, ‘this is not a hotel!’ (rough Spanish translation). So we left our backpacks outside and she grudgingly let us pass. The receptionist was peeved that I said “el calle” instead of “la calle” and started talking so fast that I couldn’t follow him. The clerks who take permiso applications had just left for the day (at 1:15 pm) and were not returning until 8:30 the next morning. My Spanish is not to fantastico, but what I gathered was that ‘permiso’ was not guaranteed, you had to petition and wait. The receptionist really couldn’t say, you had to talk to the clerks.

And with all that information in a not-so-friendly environment, it was decided permiso was not really worth our time.

Instead we traveled through Spain like fugitives, making just enough money to eat chorizo and bread and take the train to the next town.

Take it from me, though – there’s a reason we only saw a handful of buskers in Spain! But if you’re South American, or if you’re fluent in Spanish it might be worth a try!

barcelona triumfBarcelona – 

the biggest disappointment of the tour! The busking opportunity is so fabulous – a town full of tourists looking for weird and quirky art! We had the best response yet of our Europe tour: crowds, clapping, friendly chatter, good tips, appreciative shop owners, people smiling off their balconies…We matched the mood of the city, weren’t too loud or too weird or too in-your-face, and we were an improvement over the Indian men singing happy birthday into a squeaky-toy reed. That was the mosquito of Barcelona. We were a beautiful, harmless beetle.

And we made 54€¡ And then the cops arrived and informed us that: a) you cannot play with out permiso anywhere in barcelona, b) you must ask for permiso two months in advance, c) the musical saw is a weapon and not allowed on the streets even with permiso, d) if we try to play the streets our instruments will be confiscated.

The cops were really pissed too because we didn’t stop right away when they showed up and we had a crowd watching the whole scene (if you got any of that film, crowd, please pass it along! box-head & saw girl in Barcelona – thanks!). Also, we don’t speak very good Spanish and they couldn’t figure out which stamp was the correct entry stamp for our Shengen zone visa. They kept pointing out the London stamp and asking, ‘this the most recent?’ The saw was labelled a weapon never to grace the streets of Barcelona, and we were clearly no-good hooligans who had been shut down by the cops before. We somehow managed to keep our cool enough to get out of there without being arrested (but there was no way we weren’t going to turn around to the crowd and let them know that music is not permitted in Barcelona!)

I’m kind of kicking myself for being so bold to think we could get away with playing near the Rambla! If we had just stuck to the small streets in the Barrio Gotico. Or maybe a less populated area of town would have more apathetic policía. Maybe near the Gaudí park? Badalona?

We don’t know. We didn’t have the energy to try. We didn’t sleep the night before busking Barcelona. Why? Every time our eyes closed, we’d notice a strange Turkish guy hoovering over our sleeping bags saying, “No, no. It okay. You sleep. No problem. You sleep.”

We just took the train one city closer to France.

East Cack Busks Spain Map

the distant cathedral over the chateau of nantes
le crapbot, the street sensation of bordeaux

A Petit Peu de French

This weekend has been pretty monumental for us

It was no Provincetown or D.C., but Bordeaux treated us better than any city so far. And this is good news because the busking has slowly been improving. We might actually be able to make it around the world!

WE LEARNED A NEW TRICK: playing for the cafes. Man, do we feel balsy and cool! Watch out America, we’re going to be hardened European musicians when we get back.

Here’s how it works: as the movies and legends told, France has lots of outdoor seating around their cafes. It’s perfectly cool in most spots to start playing in front of the tables and then ask for money. You play two or three songs, then walk around to every table with a hat saying, “pour la musique, s’il vous plaît.”

We were afraid to try – our beggar guilt was holding us back. But our friend Fabrizio set us up by taking us out to one of the largest cafes. Fabrizio was a street musician 17 years ago; he supported himself by playing accordion and singing in the subways of Paris. But when his son was born, he dramatically ended his street-music career by throwing his accordion into the river! Fabrizio seemed so intrigued by our act that he was contemplating playing on the streets again. But still, he admitted that he didn’t want to play for people if the people were indifferent.

So back to the cafes — IT WORKED!!! A little glance at the table, a little smile, a little pressure by standing around and people will open up their wallets and pull out a coin. It was pretty fucking hard to ask for it, I tell ya, standing at the tables waiting for people to open their wallets and not being able to speak French. But it worked!!! For about 15 minutes of work…that’s better than playing the streets.

We went back to try a different cafe later, but in the evening we had competition. Two Turks with drum and guitar who could move a lot faster than us and seemed more desperate to make money. We still made €6, but not the same reception.

But there ya go – it’s possible. And now when we read “the best way to make money in Spain is by playing the cafes,” we know what to do. So we’re not quite as afraid of Spain. And even Paris seems conquerable. And we feel like fucking champs.

I’ll let Fabrizio take it away with a song and some advice:

london underground and overground hopping
Glasgow bus stop in Scotland

Couchsurfing In Kilsyth

Here’s a quick video from our first East Cackalacky Couch Surfing experience. Kilsyth is a little town on the outskirts of Glasgow, and the perfect place to get in some real Scottish culture with the hip locals.

I mean, it’s the burbs.  But hey, that’s kinda cool. It even had its own downtown strip with a grocery store, some butcher shops, music store and a bank. And young Scottish kids doing parcore.

Couch Surfing, if you were unaware, is actually a web network of travelers (www.couchsurfing.org) looking for friends or a spot to sleep. Yeah, it’s about traveling cheap. People don’t expect pay for Couch Surfing, although you should bring gifts, damnit!  But it’s also about getting a more in-depth experience. Nobody knows Glasgow like the Glaswegians. Plus, staying in a home makes you feel like you actually visited a town. Plus, often you don’t just meet one host, you meet their friends too! Plus, you might encounter other travelers – at Angie’s house we met two German students and Sam-the-Canadian who all gave us tips about England and Germany.

Plus, I personally would much rather party at a new friends house than head out to a shitty tourist bar where the beer is overpriced, the young travelers are arrogant and the bar leaves you wanting more out of life. That’s just me.

Plus, the chance to play music.

Plus – hostels can be hostile.

And much, much, more.

Our host was Angela Afterthought, keeper of tortoises and number one Maple Leaf fan. And man, has she been around the world! We are schooled in world-knowledge now! But Angela was great. Especially when we started asking Angie and Co. about Scottish songs to learn. And then this video was born.

london underground
Tom & Gary The Busker
sharmini with abortion guys in blackpool england
The Busker spots in the London Underground

Not All Days Are Good Days

Angry British Lady Shuts Down Canadian Busker

Saw this guy in Covent Gardens. I kind of suspect his fight with the woman was staged, but then again he gave up before finishing his 3 tricks. If it was an act, it was a failed act. Just remember, this is Covent Gardens, London’s best-of-the-best buskers.

British Beaurocracy & Buskers

The Busker spots in the London Underground

Designated Busker Area in the London Underground

The Cack hasn’t given London a try yet, but we really don’t want to deal with the hassle. London’s busking laws are the stiffest of the stiff, and we would have to be around for 2 rare audition dates in June and September to even have a chance of getting a permit. Of course, we know we’d pass the auditions 😉 we just don’t want to be tied down to busking only London. After all, we’ve got the world to conquer!

Heard by word of mouth that Camden Town might be a possible spot to play. It’s not technically illegal in the streets. Excellent! But, it does seem that shop owners and businessmen can ‘move you along’ if they don’t like you. Doing a little research, we discovered an article about our old busker friend from Provincetown, Marsha Mellow, getting shut down in Camden Town!  Probably a bad sign when we know the busker and she’s American and getting shut down in London.

But still, we’re going to give Camden Town a try since at least it’s legal. And it’s a college area. And there’s a bunch of backpacking hostels. And it’s hip-hip-hip! Lots of bars. Lots of kebab shops. So what could go wrong?

As for Covent Gardens? Maybe one day. I’m sure that’s the money making place to play! We’re moving towards circle crowds. Probably one day.