Reflections on Busking Western Europe (part 3)

Let’s do a little more talking about this summer, shall we?


As you read in the first post, we learned a lot about what it means to travel poor in a foreign country including get used to eating bread and cheese and learn how to collect bottles. Right, that’s covered.

We also learned a lot about what it means to busk Europe. And that is…

…busking Europe is very similar to busking the United States.

waterfallzaragozaEurope does have certain advantages: the cities are closer together, so there are more viable busking options in a shorter distance. Going on tour is a quicker operation.

But the same challenges apply: cities where busking is illegal or frowned upon and euros stretched thin due to competition.

Tom Senkus in the London UndergroundChallenge 1: Where to play

We could easily make this a formula. Out of 12 pounts…

Start with location:  Three points for a coastal/port town.

One point if town has ‘traditional’ architecture and historic downtown.

Another point if it’s possible to busk on the historic downtown streets.

Add a point if busking is legal.

Add a point if city is between 70,000 and 400,000 people.

Subtract two points if you find more than one gypsy in downtown area.

Add two points if town has been recommended by other buskers and travelers.

Add a point if downtown has multiple pedestrian-only streets.

Add a point for double-decker tour bus.

Add a point if city is/is near to wealthy metropolitan area.

For example…

There’s a reasonrain, rain go away you're never going to stop anyway! San Sebastian, La Rochelle and Lubeck were all really great places to play. Coastal port towns, hassle-free busking, larger than 70,000 but smaller than 400,000. Mostly gypsy free. Recommended by other buskers. Filled with tourists on tour buses. Near to wealthy metropolitan areas. Historic downtowns in doll-house size that funnel visitors by the music.

Then there are places like Manchester (not coastal, not recommended, no tour buses, lots of gypsies) where you can work all day and do OK, but you wouldn’t seek it out to make your fortune.

And then there are places like Mataro. Don’t go, you’ll just get shut down anyway.

Even within a town it takes some trial and error to find the right place to play. Here’s one where other buskers are not always right: what works for them may not work for you!  We always avoided the most popular spots, i.e. Glasgow’s Buchannan street, Covent Gardens (London), Paris in general, Spitalarstrasse in Hamburg. In order to really thrive in these places you have to have to have good amplification. And some talent.

IMG_20131006_131911Challenge 2: A Creative Angle to Defeat the Competition

In Europe you’re not likely to find a classic rock playing guitarist on every corner, so my guess is that you could easily show up with your classic and indie rock repertoire and impress.

Possibly, maybe, we’ve heard. But then again, that’s not our angle.

On the other hand, there’s at least two accordionists per city block so best to just throw that instrument into the river.

Leave the Django at home. And if for some reason you were tempted to play Autumn Leaves only do it as a bad-ass punk cover: this has got to be the number one over-busked song in Europe.

Creative busking always wins. Costumes, novelty instruments, odd but palatable songs, children’s acts. Put on a good show and people will love you.

Or say fuck it all and become a “bubbler.” Minimal set-up, maximum crowd interaction, and all you have to do is wave your arms around. Who doesn’t love bubbles?!?!?!?!

downtown rostock buskers

Downtown Rostock

Challenge 3: Icky City Laws

Shockingly (and maddeningly) busking is not legal in all European towns! Legality is not always easy to learn ahead of time, either. You have to trust word-of-mouth busker warnings and outdated musician blogs so every time you approach a new place you could be taking a risk.

Luckily, it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission, especially if you’re foreign. The risk is worth it on the chance that the cops won’t give a shit.

We never once were fined/jailed or had our instruments confiscated. We were warned, we were ID’d and we moved on, but it’s the same as in America, cops have bigger problems like drugs and crime and stupid tourists. We just follow the ‘always apologize humbly’ to a police officer motto. And if you can, add some bubbles to ease the tension.


Busking is a lifestyle as well as a career.

No, I don’t mean that we’re destined to live out or days digging through trash and jamming on three-stringed guitars.

We busk in order to travel and we travel in order to busk and underneath all of this is the gleeful feeling that we are actually making money off of playing music.

It’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible!

It’s not easy. Before we left we had this misconception that it would be easier than America. Why? Who knows. You can’t ever get away from competition, mistrust, local government bans, bad weather, and that unmentionable busker flaw that prevents us from getting ahead.

So fuck easy, enjoy hardship. Stimulate your artist neurons. Force yourself to learn that song so well you end up re-harmonizing it because you got bored of playing the same chords every day for three months.

Many have gone on extravagant busking tours before, many will do again despite all the warnings that say: you’re going to run out of money and fail and get stuck or deported.

And that’s exactly what happened to us!

It was so worth it.

We got to fail spectacularly and plan to do so again. And again. And again. Until one day failing becomes the new success.


Week 17 in Review ::: UP UP UP and Down

Deutschland 013

Fun & sun and more hip parks in Germany

Monday August 5th

Ready for busking! ANOTHER BEST BUSKING SPOT OF EUROPE AWARD GOES TO ::: HAMBURG! Armed with new knowledge about this city from our weekend hanging with friends, we head down to the Sternschanze subway stop and give a kick ass show. It doesn’t hurt that the tunnel amplifies every pluck of the guitar and pling of the saw. Good times!

zigaretten dispenser Hamburg

Luxuries in Hamburg

Tuesday August 6th

Here’s another tip for busking Hamburg: Altona has a wee-little downtown with lots of traffic…of course, it’s not exactly legal to play music there, but, you know, you might have a chance before you deal with that whole legality thing…and the people in Altona are super friendly.

Wednesday August 7th

By the end of the day, we’ve got laptop money! We bounce from Sternschanze to Altona to Sternschanze to Altona. We’re selling CDs like diamonds and having a fun time. Plus, we finally figured out a good way to get rid of our backpacks: um, put them in the train station lockers. Yup, shoulda done that a long time ago.

russian keys and american laptop

New machine

Thursday August 8th

The last few weeks we’ve hit peak. But the end is in sight: do we risk overstaying our visa to keep on in this busker paradise, or do we be good int’l travelers and high tail it back to England to avoid any consequences?

Laptop in hand to help us research, we opt for the later. AND we buy tickets from France to London, because we can’t have the English thinking we’re broke! So our next goal is to get down to Lille, France…

autostop saw

Autostop saw

Friday August 9th

….which means a full day of hitchhiking! That’s autostop to you, Euro speakers. From Hamburg all the way down to Brussels in a quick tap of the tambourine. And Brussels: well as one Germany said, it’s like France but dirtier. But, oh heaven that Belgian beer. Brussel-ites know what a good thing they have and don’t hesitate to get us hopped up on 11% Trappist tastiness as we make our music on the crazy party streets.

duvel beer drinking backpackers in belgium

A party’s going on in Brussels

Saturday August 10th

A bit on busking Brussels: the main area is all permit-only, and since we’ve arrived on a Saturday there’s no hope of getting one and the cops do take notice. So we’re stuck on the loud main drags with (luckily) a mild amount of success. And at night…um, oops, don’t ever leave your baggage in the train station overnight. Apparently they shut down after midnight! We end up snoozing in a park until the tran station opens and we can grab our gear (once again, thank god for Belgian beer!)

Sunday August 11th

Lille street signs

Happy or sad with Lille?

Two days before our bus leaves: must get to Lille. Lille is: quiet. The most ghetto French Mcdo’s I’ve ever seen, and a bunch of gypsy competition. What do we think? Other than that, it’s an anything-goes kind of busking city, there don’t seem to be any laws and we don’t have trouble with the local businesses. But it’s also France, which means less tips than Germany. An English guy stops us to orate on the benefits of France vs. England, but he doesn’t tip. A sign of the future?

Week 10 in Review ::: We’re on the Train ‘Cause We Got Shut-Down in Spain…Again!

Monday June 17th

on the beach again

on the beach again

On the Mediterranean. The beach is beautiful – but not at all comfortable to sleep on! We have sand in our shoes and bugs crawling down our backs and we gotta get out! A quick morning hike leads us to Vilanova, where we get a chance to lie out in the sun and take beach showers. We try our luck busking for a dismal 3€. Oh, well, it’s Monday, we can’t be too discouraged yet.

Tuesday June 18th

Vilanova. After successfully busking the cafe for lunch (well, we made 8€), we watch a group of African guys get busted for selling their goods on the street. Worried that the cops will target us too, we get on the bus before we get shut down in Spain and land in Sitges. Sitges is good, 24€, no cops and lots of gays.

sitges spain sign


Wednesday June 19th 

Sitges. This town is all vacationers, and we end up entertaining some American school-girls for change. Oh, thank you America, those 40€ can buy us relief and happiness and deep, love for this gay resort town! But when the evening rolls around la policía has had enough. They pack us up without any hope (no permits, no exceptions, NO BUSKING). Angry, we get on the train because we’ve been shut-down in Spain.

Thursday June 20th

the view from montjuic park in barcelona

Barcelona – the view from Montjuic park

Barcelona. We arrive in the wee hours of the morning, accosted by hustlers selling everything from beer to raver gear, to souvenirs to taxi rides, to, themselves? Exhausted, we pass out in Citadel Park, only to wake up to a face hovering above us. I scream. Our Turkish looking friend reassures me, “no preocuppes. Dormir. Dormir.” Yeah right. We pack up and move up the hill, but two hours later he’s back, lurking at the edge of our tarp. We yell, but we’re too tired to move and fall asleep. An hour later, the same fate! This time we’re tired of him. Amazingly nothing has been lost, but we’re weary of this town already. The online consensus is ‘stay away!.’ But we don’t have a choice now and throw ourselves into performing. To our amazement, we make 50€ in an hour in a half and have the best response of the tour! Hallelujah! We get bold, we head down to the main Rambla, we find a spot, we ignore the flower vendor who wags her fingers at us. We are stupid: within minutes the cops shut us down to a full crowd. And The Cack, high on our own success, forget how to be humble around cops. Instead of our usual, ”it’s okay, you made a mistake’, lecture, the cops verbally scold us, take our names and warn us the next time we will lose instruments and gain fines. Damn you Barcelona! We get on the train because we’ve been shut-down in Spain. Next destination: Mataró and hopes to salvage the day. In Mataró, the cops find us before we can finish a song. We get on the train to Blanes because, once again, we got shut down in Spain.

renfe train at night mediterranean is a cheap option for travel

on the train in Spain

Friday June 21

Blanes, España. Nope. We don’t have the courage to busk this city it’s just….too clean. Too quiet. No street musicians or bums, lots of Norwegian tourits: a bad sign. We catch the bus to Girona, which is a lot more relaxed and permissive than it’s tourist-infested Mediterannean sisters. The Girona vibe is good and a rainy-day jam leaves us 30 € richer.

Saturday June 22nd

Girona. We can’t quite put our finger on this town: the locals seem to love us and we’ve received kisses and care-packages from the balconies, been tipped in weed and someone tried to tip us heroin. BUT, something’s wrong. It’s as if the city is too quaint for our acoustic wackiness. We aren’t making much money and we’re tired of Spain’s challenges. We treat ourselves to calamari and mussels with our 16€, then agree to move on.

the balcony people of Girona love the Cack

the balcony people of Girona love the Cack

Sunday June 23rd

Figueres has got some cool Dali-themed street art. It also has the San Juan festival and is covered in outdoor stages, which means there’s no space for non city-funded musicians. Well, Spain, it’s been fun, but you were a dick! France, we miss cheap salmon! Will you take us back?

Lesson of the week: Fuck you España!


Don’t busk the Rambla in Barcelona!!!

Week 8 in Review : Down to Spain

Woah! This was a while back. We already posted a little bit about our trip through Spain, but just for kicks, here’s the daily play-by-play so you can plan your busking trips accordingly. In case your memory needs refreshing, Week 7 left us in Bordeaux…

bordeaux abandoned train station bansky graffiti

Bordeaux’s coolest camp-site ever

Monday June 3rd 

A day of rest.To relax from a successful weekend, we head to the outskirts of Bordeaux for a park bonfire and some sun. Thank you universe for the good weather. Tomorrow we work again…

Tuesday June 4th

Back in downtown Bordeaux, we make a wee bit of money busking for the McCafe before meeting up with Théo to do some recordings. Our crew sneaks into the recording studio at 11 pm and emerges at 9 am. What a night!

tom & terri street musicians playing in Bayonne France guitars

tom & terri jamming in Bayonne

Wednesday June 5th 

Goodbye Bordeaux! We enjoyed it, but we’re such nomads we gotta get out! Next stop Bayonne – a short three hour journey away. Bayonne is the most beautiful little European town we’ve seen so far! Excited about our opportunities, and encouraged by a jam with a hippie traveler, we have a good night. But come sleep time, we head out on our own to find some solitude.

Thursday June 6th

Bayonne is okay. The narrow streets have great acoustics, but there really aren’t enough people here for great busking. €16 euros, but we need more!  Another encounter with our hippy friend Teri has us questioning his competence, and it turns out the night crowd is too young to tip anything. They’re French, so they’re sweet and invite us all to come party, but we turn them down and cross our fingers for the ‘morrow.

night time on the bridge in bayonne france

night-time in Bayonne: beautiful but not profitable

Friday June 7th 

Bayonne. And a better tomorrow it is! The cafe trick works and with our nice €27 euros earnings we decide to peace-the-hell out of Bayonne. We walk to Biarritz for the exercise (?!), but it starts raining about half-way there. Damn! So a bus to St Jean de Luz it is, but this town is completely shut down by the rain. Our one piece of luck – a pizza vendor sees us hiding under the awnings and donates a free pie. Awwwww.

east cackalacky walks to biarritz and discovers rain

the rainy Western coast

Saturday June 8th

St Jean de Luz.  This town might have been recommended, but it’s also rained-on. So there’s no where left to go but SPAIN!!! Some of the cheapest travel we’ve encountered in Basque country: 1€/person for the bus ride from St Jean de Luz to Hendaye, and €2.70/person for the Eusko Tren ride from Hendaye to San Sebastian. It’s still fucking raining, but we will not be detered: three sets nets us €36 and we probably could have kept going. The Spanish party goers are still hard at work when we leave at 3:30 am to find shelter. The shelter? An elementary school overhang and some benches. A dry sleep, how refreshing!

Sunday June 9th

San Sebastian x2. In the one hour of sun we manage to make €34! But then the rain begins all over again. Instead of chancing our luck, we head inland to Pamplona.

The Weeks Lesson: Take the bus if it’s gonna rain. Good job, Cackalackies. You saved yourself a lot of hardship this week!

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:

East Cackalacky in Berck France on the beach
Busking in the UK camden town

Busks This ::: What We Learned

Busking in England

Every time I asked a UK busker, “Do you have any advice for musicians that come here?” their instinctual response was always, “England sucks for busking. It’s better in mainland Europe.” That better damn well be true because the UK was an uphill struggle. With the exception of Glasgow and Liverpool, we were working our asses off to make £10-20. Which is $15-30, an essential amount of money for two backpackers, so we’re not complaining. However, we’ve had a much easier time busking in certain U.S. cities (oh, Alexandria, how you are missed!). We’d like to blame the weather, but after visiting Normandy, we can’t.

Even though all buskers complained, everyone and their mother’s sister’s lesbian-lover’s 5 year old son is a busker. I’ve never seen as many guys with guitars walking around town in my life. The junkies do it, the musicians do it, the school kids do it, the bands do it, the professionals do it, the gypsies do it, the guys in banana suits do it, the office workers do it on their off day. The pinnacle of two many buskers would be Bristol’s Bear pit, a concrete park with four under-road walkways leading above ground. Every single tunnel had a busker in it, but it was a terrible spot. I never saw a busker get tipped. I never got tipped.

Location and timing are the keys to doing well.

The best time to busk England is by far the lunch hour, around 11-3. The wonderful thing about British cities is that they all have pedestrian-only streets in the city centres, and tons of strolling traffic.

The thing that really annoys this American is that these city centres clear out at around 6 pm when all the shops close. The entire town goes the fuck to sleep. This is okay in a big city like Bristol, a college town, or London, duh!, or Glasgow (er, not British, but similar layout). But if you’re thinking you’re going to busk some of the small towns in the evening, don’t bother. For us American buskers, this was counter-intuitive as 5-9 is usually the best busking hour in the states. Not so in England. Even if you can busk the late night crowd, evening busking in England is really slow. 

Finding the right location can help with that. Smaller town England can be ok if you’re there in the afternoon For example, Lichfield, a far-out suburb of Birmingham and hardly a tourist city, turned out to be more profitable for us than Birmingham itself. That’s because we busked it during the lunch hour. We also did a lot of research on other buskers that suggested small towns south of London are good.

But really, the best cities are the tourist ones. Not London, because it’s too big and has too many rules and attracts fearful tourists who think everyone’s out to rob them. But the slightly smaller tourist cities: Liverpool, Glasgow, Bristol are the ones we played. We’ve heard Brighton, Bath and York might be really good. Oddly enough, some of the cities with more and better competition were a lot more profitable! So over saturation in large towns wasn’t a problem. Honestly, if I were to busk England again, I would ask my grandma (or somebody else’s grandma) what places she wants to visit and go there. Or maybe check Lonely Planet.

One more quick note on timing: we think we might have jumped the gun for arrival. As in, it was cold, cold, cold! and all the English families were still in school and not traveling around much. And it was cold, cold, cold! and raining. The English told us that’s as warm as England gets, but we don’t believe them.

Glasgow is the one exception.

Even on the first weekend of May, with constant rain and temperatures of 10°-12° C, we were pulling in about £20 an hour. And considering the quality of the competition, I’d say that’s pretty fantastic! Plus, the Scottish people are very nice and Glasgow is far more picturesque than most of England. I’m sure the English won’t disagree. Now I wouldn’t go there in the winter necessarily, but it seems like a city that pulls in a lot of tourism. Thumbs up to Glasgow!

Enough of that, let’s ask the buskers:

The best interview I had jumped the boat somewhere before France. It was of a Scottish busker who walked on nails, did body manipulation, etc. He’d traveled all around the world busking, and you could tell he was successful and knew his craft. His advice: Canadians are the best tippers, stick to the coast and look for smaller tourist towns where people might know English. Also, Australia is great. 

Great tips.

sensual in glasgow scotland

Busk This :::: A City Guide To England

Tom put together a review of the cities we busked in England so you can get a more detailed account of our experience.

Tips to England and Scotland

The Busker spots in the London Underground

Designated Busker Area in the London Underground


England has many regulations for Covent Gardens, but it also appears to be a proving ground for upper level street performers.  We saw two acts almost crash and burn on a Wednesday.  An Asian guy played a traditional instrument perfectly to a prerecorded track, but lacked any enthusiasm.  In fact, he looked constipated between the long breaks between his playing and the rests provided by his backing track.

Camden Town’s Loch was a pretty decent spot, though the money was tight.  Lots of work for little money, though there was lots of foot traffic.  The tourists seemed to be tight-pursed and wary of any scammers.  The bridges had the most amount of traffic and a few mediocre buskers played to no tips.  But, I imagine on the weekend, it could be OK.

Other areas of Camden Town seemed like tourist traps, though we tried playing by the Whole Foods on Parkway.  That only yielded a mediocre amount despite constant applause from cafes nearby.

Waterloo’s waterfront bridge could be okay, but be prepared to fend against the Turks, who had–not one–TWO trumpets going!  Yowza.  After watching them for nearly a half-hour, they only made two tips of varying amounts–including our own contribution of useless American change.

Hampstead Heath was a bust, though we only tried by the bus stop.  Too many unsavory characters and little foot traffic made this spot less than ideal.  Also, we were informed that this was one of the richer areas in London, hence our poor performance.



Bristol shopping mall, the Broadmead, was a decent pitch.  Though, be aware that there’s lots of competition, lots of watching, but no tips.  A conclusion that we made is that England must be on hard times…

Downtown Bristol, by the ferry boats, proved to be more profitable.  Initially we tried to legitimately busk in high traffic areas, but soon copied the bums–busk by the ATM near the Sainsbury’s.  Not only did we have constant traffic, but were tipped more readily than elsewhere.  The area is a bit rough, so do be careful of unsavory junkies looking to oust you from a spot.

Another point about Bristol:  On weekends and holidays, it seems that Bristol equips their streets with urinals on the street.  Open-air urinals!!!  All you do is step up on this platform, take care of business, shake vigorously, and then go back to consuming copious amounts of alcohol.  I’m not sure if this is a great concept to prevent public urination.  There ARE public bathrooms on Colton Street that come in handy, but they close when the night crowd shuffles in.

If you’re looking for a place to sleep, there’s the Brandon Hill Park, up a long hill, but there are numerous conspicuous spots to get a good night’s rest.  We did, however, hear a woman screaming in the night.  Either she was being raped or she was crazy, but it certainly was chilling.  We would have rushed to her aid had we not been inflicted with the flu (and coughing up blood DAILY).


gloucester england house boatsGloucester: 

Kind of a tame town.  We hear differing reports that a) it was a shithole, or b) it was beautiful.  We found neither.  In all honesty, we busked for a hour, made 4 pounds 35 pence, and hit the road.  The market clears out at 6-ish.



This was a bust-and-a-half.  There seems to be a few bridges that buskers play on, but because of the near-constant drizzle, no one seemed to be getting tipped.  The Bullring, a gigantic shopping mall, seemed like a decent spot, but we were immediately shut down by a bulldyke security guard that mentioned some bureaucratic nonsense.  This seems prevalent in England:  “If you just go to so-and-so and tell them you’re a busker, there’s a few forms and an audition period.  After that, you’ll have to pay tax on your future earnings as well as liability insurance.” Jeez, you wonder why they eat such crap food!!!

We tried busking adjacent to the Bullring but to little enthusiasm. Later, a Hare Krishna began his droning drum routine and basically rendered the market area useless.


the edge of birmingham united kingdom englandLichfield:

A failed hitchhiking attempt in Birmingham led us to being dropped off by the police in Lichfield.  Surprisingly, it was the best spot since Bristol.  The area by the church was the most resonant and our only competition was a mild-mannered saxophonist from Birmingham.  We made fifteen pounds in an hour-and-a-half.

SIDE NOTE:  Another concept of “proper” English culture is to avoid direct confrontation.  To Americans, this is laughable, but it seems to speak volumes to the English.  An old man informed us that it “would be better for {us}” if we played towards the church.  Clearly, our music-making was impeding his business… or not.  We played on, only to watch him watch us from a distance to see if we would follow his veiled threats.  So, be wary and don’t back down.  Also, “fuck off” is not an abrasive gesture as in America.

SIDE NOTE 2:  The bathrooms at the bus station were nominated for LOO OF THE YEAR 1998, but I wouldn’t suggest using them.  The seat was made of wood (!!!) and was fashioned in such a way to be very UNRELAXING.


pan flute player in blackpool Blackpool:

Blackpool was described to us a working class vacation spot.  It lived up to that description.  We just happened to arrive during the big weekend of Derby vs. Blackpool football teams, and judging by the level of abrasive drunkenness, I’d suggest avoiding such places.

To Americans, the nearest fitting description I can give is of Coney Island.  Playing on the promenade is legal, though VERY difficult.  Busking a half-hour netted a hard-won 8 pounds.  One guy tried to kiss me.  Our second attempt netted the same amount, though it was by a stairwell later dominated by THE PERUVIAN FLUTE GUY.

The Peruvian Flute Guy in England is a whole ‘nother  beast than in the States.  Here in England they have merchandise and a sound system that’d put most dancehall-loving Jamaicans to shame.  Their merchandise consisted of tiny flutes for kids, earrings, dream catchers, CD’s, feathers, and other trinkets.  The music?  Eh, about the same.  Backing tracks and tonal flute sounds.  Kind of boring, but he had a sympathetic audience.

Our third attempt in the shopping/strolling mall yielded ten easily-won pounds, but we were informed by the local council goons that we were to get the standard “insurance, future tax, bylaws, etc.”  Our English friend Tony said that we could’ve easily told them to “fuck off”, as that they have no “real” power and would hesitate to call the police unless we were creating a real disturbance.  Who knows?


sunset in newcastle under lyme england


Despite the Beatles association, this town was great for busking!  We made 8 pounds inintially in a bad spot where other buskers were playing (INSERT STREEET).  Later, we moved to a spot by an abandoned bank and made 20 pounds in an hour.  People seemed generous and surprised to see buskers in this spot.  The narrow walls also amplified our sound.  Also, we knew we were in the right spot when the junkies started throwing off veiled threats–“aright, that’s enough!”.  So it goes.  If we had had more time, Liverpool would be our main pitch.

Based on the suggestion of a girl named Claire who stopped by, we stopped by the Mello Mello Cafe on.  It seemed like a yuppie-meets-hippie cafe with large performance space.  You’d probably be able to perform their if you ask nicely.  So, ask nicely.


 agent provocation in glasgow scotland Glasgow:

Glasgow is cold and wet.  More cold and wet than the rest of England, which is saying alot.  The people, however, are much more generous and friendly than the rest.  You won’t see as much smoking or juvenile idiocy around these parts.  But, as the weather is terrible, you can see why Trainspotting was conceived here.

However, the money was excellent.  Almost a consistent 15 pounds an hour!  The locals even tipped us in alcohol and cigarettes.  We played on Sauchiehall Street, which is adjacent to Buchanan Street.  Buchanan Street is a pedestrian mall where the only the real-deal buskers go.  There are many circle acts.  Be prepared to lose against the four-person traditional Scottish band with drums AND bagpipes!!!  Our one attempt on Buchanan Street had many onlookers, but we found it unsuitable for a  walk-by act such as ours.


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