(Picture by Chris Cosby)
The start of the adventure began in Oxford, and oh man oh man – I loved it so much! Stepping out into Oxford and seeing the architecture and beauty of the city felt welcoming, I knew I’d made the right decision on taking the leap now. Arriving at the hostel (20.03.18), (although staying in hostels wasn’t my original intent it was the budget option for this first step), I was greeted by a very friendly staff member – Ruby, although she first said “I’m sorry you can’t stay here if you’ve got all that stuff”-pointing at my two guitars and busking trolley-“ya what?!”-“yeah that’s too much, nowhere to store it all”-“but…?”-this was her sense of humour, very dry aha, luckily there was place to store it! We then had many nice conversations about music, instagram, art and travelling! The team at ‘Oxford Backpackers’ were like a family, only a few of them worked there but they were all friendly and conversational, so they informed me of all the best places to visit in Oxford! So I dumped my clothes bag and headed towards the city centre, which was a 5 minute walk from the hostel – winner! The first busk was awesome, I had an incredible response from the public, as there were many school classes taking trips there from all over Europe the city was constantly busy, so I had crowds of foreign students stand around me quite a lot. Asking for group photos and following me on Instagram, taking selfies and giving me both £1 coins and euros aha (since I plan to visit Europe this year, that helps, a lot), someone also gave me a dollar (I don’t plan on visiting America anytime soon- I don’t need a dollar, dollars not what I need, if I share with you my music, can you you not share a dollar with me, cause a dollars not what I need–what? I don’t know? Stop? Okay…).Oxford is filled with some amazing street artists and I met two of the regulars on the first day! Above-Is by Merlin Porter. This was while I was Busking with a big crowd of French and Italian students around me, he came over and asked “can I quickly paint you”, sure….this took him just over 5 minutes to do! It’s crazy good and he did it so fast! He then went and did more for the students around, so we were almost working as a busking duo aha, I drew people in with the music, he made them stay with the art – that could be a pretty cool street art combination to take on the road! Merlin has his work known all over Oxford and a few cafes have galleries for him, go check out his work now – Merlin Porter. Facebook Page.
This was the class that surrounded me and Merlin when he painted the above picture! Their teacher insisted on getting a picture! I find it weird enough people take pictures of me Busking, then having pictures like this taken felt alien, then someone asked for a selfie and posted it up on Instagram; Aha! So strange, this kid from German really enjoyed my music and bought a few CDs for his family! He’s also sent me some really nice messages on Instagram too! This photo was taken at my favourite spot, just outside of WestGate (which is a huge shopping centre, I believe its actually bigger that what Oxfords castle was! Crazy!).
Since taking this route to travel and busk solo around the UK. I looked into ways to meet people and find friends along the way, as it has and will be a lonesome journey, something I prepared for as I’m quite introverted and like having the space to be on my own. But I also wanted to jump into the uncomfortable and make the effort to socialise with strangers, make friends and build confidence in talking. So I got this app called – MeetUp, with it I attended a talk ‘Engineering Happiness into your Life’ (self-development/motivational talks are something I’m hugely interested in). It was nice to attend something like this as I read and listen to a lot of public speakers like Anthony Robbins and Les Brown. The talk was a very simplified approach to some goal setting and life questions that you’d find in – Awaken The Giant Within – Anthony Robbins
But I discovered some very helpful exercises and life tips in this talk. One of the main activities was to talk to someone who you didn’t know and tell them ‘your story’, we also had to describe ourselves in 3 words – my first thought was, Free, Creative, Loner. That obviously led to many questions and thoughts that floated around to ages afterwards, so I took some time and just sat writing out the question – who am I? Until I found an answer which I felt true to myself, it took a while and it was hard! But it really helped me. I think the way you perceive who you are massively affects the way you think and act. So me having this original thought of being a ‘loner’ only creates the lonesomeness that I feel, a self created feeling and way of looking at my life and probably created situations where I’d ostracise myself. And now I feel I can change those three words that describe me as – A Creative, Nomad, Connector. Since changing this view of who I am, simply with a few subtle word changes, it’s made me change my way on looking at life. This all happened during my first day of Oxford, so from then onwards I felt connecting easier and realise that I’m here travelling to give music to the world and connect with people and connect people together creatively by busking. I never really thought I’d open up like this on a blog, but I want to give you any bit of advice I can give. Please try this now, a pen and paper (much better than phone or laptop), write in 3 words the answer to ‘Who am I?’, the first three words that come to mind. Now think about your answer and how it affects your view of your life and the world around you….if you feel it’s not truly what you believe, then spend some time to write out ‘who you are’ in more detail (more than three words). Dig deep and ask yourself as many times as it takes for you to find an answer you feel speaks the truth. Think about where you want to be in life, your goals, your dreams and who you need to be to get there.
There is greatness within you – Les Brown
Another lesson I learnt from this came from an exercise to draw a pie chart like this-
A way to rate each section of your life from 0-10: Physical Environment(places you spend your time, I.e work place, home, social spaces etc), Work, Health, Personal Growth, Love, Money and Friendship. Then with the areas rated low, build goals to boost the ratings. My lowest areas are – Friendship, Money and Love. I know how to boost the money – be better and busk more (which is what I’m working on with this tour). But with Friendship and Love, I need to put in some effort and plan goals. I’m not entirely sure how to set these goals but I have some ideas, I definitely need to make a more consciously effort to connect with my friends and family, even though I’m travelling and away from them- that’s no excuse not to call or message them! I do prefer ‘real-life’ interactions but I that’s impractical currently being away, so I have to use what I have! Try this out too! Use it to plan some goals and figure out where your balances are, and make sure to congratulate yourself on the victories you already have! Always acknowledge every victory, no matter how small!
I’m probably going off on a tangent about this talk I attended! But I feel these are learning steps and an essential part of this journey, and hopefully it adds some value to your life! I definitely think travelling alone is something everyone should venture into, to learn about the world around you and discover more of yourself.
The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready – Henry David Thoreau
Here’s one of the other great artists of Oxford – Joshua Squashua! I love this so much! I feel it shows how I sometimes feel like a complete crazy man who’s lost the plot when I go out and busk with my guitar and bass. We actually met on Instagram, through following the hashtag #busking I discovered his work and we got chatting, so to meet him and hang out was awesome! We shared many views on life and he threw some crazy Philosophical questions at me which have racked my mind for ages, amazing stuff but these kind of questions make you think! Go check his work too!!! – Joshua Squashua. Facebook Page. He’s currently embarking on some busking travelling adventures too, so if you see him in the streets, be sure to get your face squashed and caricatured by him!
I had a lot of pictures and videos taken of me while out Busking, a lot were sent to me! So thank you for all the love and appreciation of my music! Here’s a few;
Here’s the cutest little girl! Her Dance is so adorable! She was dancing for ages with this song and her mum gave her a coin to give, she was confused on where to put it so she stood there waiting for me to take it. It was adorable and from the crowd reaction you could see how happy it made people feel! This has to be one of my favourite busking moments! I didn’t expect any of this, but looking up from my guitar to see a crowd surrounding me all smiling and watching intently, taking videos and pictures, this moment, this atmosphere and connecting people together is the reason I’m in love with busking!
I feel I’ve found a meaningful purpose for performing music, I feel like I’ve added some happiness and value to the lives of those who saw and interacted with me. These gestures of smiles and connection makes it all worth it. I hope to continue to brighten peoples days and I hope to connect with more beautiful souls!
Not only did Oxford give me so much love while busking, it was a welcoming and warming place, I felt at home there and I felt connected with the people! I’m not there now, I’m in Newport, but I’ll write more about this trip on the next post!
I do miss Oxford and would like to return soon, I’ve made some great friends there and made some beautiful memories. Living on the road and travelling makes me feel as though I’ve found a home, I feel this journey is the beginning for some great things, I feel I’m heading in the right direction to achieve my dreams and goals, I’m ready for the challenges to come and I’m feeling very optimistic about life! Right now I feel wonderful!
I hope you to feel wonderful!
Thank you for reading and following my journey!
If I’ve helped in anyway or you feel I can help in anyway, please contact me in someway!
Lots of love,
Have a great day,
Follow your heart,
Keep being you and keep being awesome!
On the 23rd January, I met Chris Duckett at the Firefly Open Mic night in Worcester. We connected really well through our love of busking and performing every chance we get, I discovered he was on a busking tour, lives in his van and is staying in Worcester for the week – straight away I knew this was going to be a great friendship!
I performed my guitar/bass one-man band, Chris loved what he saw, and straight up gave me a bunch of festival dates for some main stages he helps organize! Then Chris performed and silenced the whole room, magical sounds from his percussive spaceship! It seems to be a rare sight to see and hear a HandPan live, and Chris sure knows how to play it (at this point he’s been playing it for 3 weeks!! 3 weeks!!!!).
Video from Firefly Open Mic – Night I met Chris
The next day we hit the streets of Worcester together and busked all day! Chris’ busking spots were very interesting, as a new busker to the place I guess he didn’t really know the core busking spots, but the place he chose was incredible, under shelter in this tunnel perfect ambiance for his instrument and music, a place I never thought of using before, but will when the rain hits!
I’ve learned a lot about busking from Chris since meeting him, the main thing being persistence and playing longer – he was busking from 9am to 2am most days! – with breaks obviously, something like 9-11am 12-2pm 5-7pm 9-11pm 1-2am (Worcester clubbers loved his music during these hours!). So much busking each day! His energy definitely passed onto me and my love for busking has only increased!
Busking spot Chris found, sheltered from rain, his original song – Singing
Being a rainy day in Worcester, we busked here until 4pm. Our friend Jake Marsh (who lives on a boat and runs a gigging boat club during summer), offered his place to shelter from the rain, so as three musicians, we jammed, on a boat, it was a lot of fun! Below is the outcome! It’s a mix of an original song by myself and vocal lines from an original by Chris.
After all the jamness with Jake on his boat! We hit the hay for the day and met up again in Worcester the following day for more jams! Adding a member to the jam – Cookie – beatboxing master!
Being it Friday we busked the night whilst people were on their way to party! We got a little crowd going and met a lovely woman who wished we’d had got together as a trio sooner to play at her wedding! She was loving it, dancing with her kids, from this we basically forced to give this trio a name – The BeatBassPan – CookieDuckettField – Waves – Sounds of Waves – The Waves – Sounds of Zephyr! = decided! And so Sounds of Zephyr was born! We jammed so much that night, later around 10pm we were joined by some more beatboxers and rappers, we had a little crowd judging a beatboxing battle going down between Cookie and Jack Goodwin.
From the jams we had, I took all the ‘good’ bits and compiled it onto a Bandcamp album, a live recording demo of our jams! My trusty Zoom Q2HD recording and rocking strong – this has been one of my best purchases as a musician, I record pretty much everything I do and the quality is insane for such a tiny recorder, I highly recommend if you’re wanting to get rough recordings of gigs, busking, rehearsals, sampling found sounds etc etc.
So here are the tracks!
My favorite has to be ‘You Wanna Be Friends?!’, it’s featuring Jack Goodwin, who is both an excellent beatboxer/rapper/spoken word and amazing human being! Whilst jamming this I got pumped with energy and was dancing around like a lunatic, feeling high on music and life! The video below was taken during this jam!
Having too much fun busking with the gang! I love busking and I love just playing a groove on the bass, so this was a lot of fun! We had a lot of energy and dancing going on all night! Super excited for more night busking jams like this.
Moving on from the trio beatboxing/handpanning madness, me and Chris spent some time hanging out, planning travels, booking gigs and jamming some duo material. We found a warm place by a fire with tea, eating vegan pies and jamming on the house piano –
It’s fun to just jam and let the music flow out! Especially when you connect so well with someone musically, the songs and music just pour out. We must have written about 10 songs as a duo in the tiny timeframe we’d met.
So this was just before we went busking as a trio again for a big night busk. We found this really cool open square surrounded by restaurants, there were lots of people hanging around drinking. We managed to play for an hour before we got shut down by security as we had complaints from a very hidden Travelodge, it was in no way an aggressive shutdown, as the security guard brought us out tea and gave us a fiver! He actually seemed bummed out that he was told to shut us down.
We separated that night for different musical adventures, I and Cookie went off with a gang of Worcester musos for a big jam on Jake Marsh’s Boat House, while Chris went and busked! From 12-2am! He said it was some of the best busking he’s ever done!
The next busking session we went to my hometown of Kidderminster, not busking there for a while it was nice to bring my new set-up of guitar/bass! My ‘regulars’, townpals, Kidderminster fans, I don’t know what to call them erm, – the extremely generous and friendly people who donate and chat with me everytime I busk in Kidderminster – really loved what they heard and was intrigued by the additional guitar, they all asked about the Europe trip and asked about my next destinations, the connection with these people is amazing! They’re so loving!!!
Later when Chris came down, they loved that too! We jammed through some new tunes and did some big ambient jams, like this one;
And here’s the final jam we did before Chris drove off towards the Midlands to carry on his busking tour! This is my most favorite thing we did as a duo and was highly inspired by Nizlopi (a joint favorite artist of ours whom we’d love to gig with!). It ended on such a high positive note and was the perfect way to end our first run of busking jams together, we’ve planned so much for the summer, for busking adventures and for the future of Sounds of Zephyr.
Meeting and jamming with Chris has uplifted me both spiritually and musically, motivating me to busk more and to give more time to aid people. It’s opened up a whole new path to walk down. I feel our paths aligned at the right time, as both our life goals are quite similar and we’ll be able to lift each other closer to these goals.
So yes! Thank you, Chris, for everything you’ve taught me the past couple of weeks, I’m super excited for more writing sessions and more busking adventures!
So for a while I’ve been posting videos of me doing bass things onto YouTube as often as I can. A lot of them are during busking sessions, as I tend to do a lot of my ‘bass things’ on the streets. Daily Bass – currently on 46 videos (todays) came about by wanting to challenge myself with on-the-spot composing, trying to differ my approaches to songwriting and create a pallet of different sounds. It’s nice to flick back through all the videos and see developments and watch my own journey, I kind of like the idea of it being a video journal of my journey with music, plus it gives anyone who’s recently discovered/and likes my music, a whole tonne of stuff for them to check out! ( So if you’ve just discovered me, there’s plenty of me on YouTube 😀 ). Also it’ll be nice to show my children (When and if I have children.), “Hey look this is what your Dad got up too!“.
This video is an audio recording from my Q2 – which I take busking and tape most of my busking session, it’s a great way to keep track of new ideas and also it sounds nice with the ambience of the streets passing by. Unfortunately whilst busking in Stourbridge, a guy living on the streets didn’t like my presence and began threatening me quite aggressively – you’ll find an audio snippet at the end of the track. This was the first time he threw his anger towards me, and I’ve been back a few times and it has elevated, to quite recently when he came with others and said he’d break my stuff the next time he sees me. On that, I’ve stopped busking in Stourbridge, which is sad as I’ve met a lot of people there and it’s a lovely place to busk. I’ve tried being as nice as I can to this guy, I’ve given him tea/food before, tried to come to some agreement where I play nowhere near him, but he wasn’t happy with anything I said and continues to dislike me. 😦
Busking in London with Carlos Browne, a very good friend and a super good drummer. I’ve always making music with him! We took a trip to London for the weekend for busking and to meet up with friends at the London Bass Guitar Show. This is mostly solo bass, but Carl joins me at ‘7:30’.
A trip up to Manchester for busking, beautiful City! It was the first time ever going to the City Center and it welcomed my music very well, I sold a lot of CDs here and met a bunch of other buskers. It ticks off a ‘to-do’ on my list from the blog post 2017: Year of the Busker
Donations of Another Sort
As a busker it’s more than likely at least one person is going to throw some money into your case/hat/box/wheelbarrow/whatever-you-collect-donations-in. In most cases you will get a fair amount of coins thrown your way. But sometimes people like to give you other ‘donations’, which if you’ve read my previous posts you’ll have seen that I got given beef…like actual strips of beef, with noodles and sauce, ready for a stir-fry. Well since then I’ve had a few other things dropped in, some very recently. I’ll show you the ‘cool’ ones first;
A Growlithe! I got given a Pokemon card, I haven’t been given one of these since I was like 10 years old – when I was obsessed with Pokemon and had a shiny Venusaur. So it was pretty awesome receiving this whilst out busking.
This one was given yesterday – Valentines day. I was busking in my hometown of Kidderminster, when a couple stood and watched me for ages, the woman caught my eye as they left the bank she smiled and grabbed her partner, they both smiled and complimented my playing. They started slow dancing to my song, and the guy took out a Polaroid and with a flash dropped a blank photo into my case, which developed into this —->
This has to be my favourite gift whilst out busking, I love how it’s captured me doing something I love on a day of love (although everyday is a day of love – always love!).
Now here (above) is another very generous food donation…..half eaten crisp. Brilliant. It made me laugh as I saw the gang of kids giggle about putting it in way before the gang leader dropped it in. I mean it was a great quick snack, joking I didn’t actually eat it. As the kid dropped it in, he ran off as soon as it landed with his other friends all laughing very loudly.
It really doesn’t bother me though, it just makes me laugh. I get quite a lot of laughs and non-pleasant comments thrown my way when I’m busking, so I’ve kind of built an iron skin when it comes down to this kind of reaction. Examples being “Get a job mate”, “I’ll pay you 50p to shut the f**k up”, “Mate, shut up no one cares!”, This one guy first laughed loudly at me, shook his head and said, “You do realise there are better ways to earn money don’t you” – well I love busking so I’m happy doing this to earn money, I’d much rather do this than spend 8 hours a day working for a company that have very little care for me as a person. I must admit reactions like this have hurt me a few times but I just remind myself of all the amazingly positive and beautiful reactions that have come from busking and I’m filled with positive energy again. I heard a quote quite recently which really stuck with me – ‘It’s how you earn your money, not how much money you earn‘.
Now the last recent non-cash donation I’ve received was….well…a woman with far too much fake tan splattered all over her face, and her two pals walked past me talking a language that sounded like English but with, ‘like’ ‘ennit’ ‘bab’ ‘kecker’, used at least twice in each sentence. As they walked past I heard something drop in my case, it wasn’t a coin, “Like, bab kecker did it like ennit stay in, ennit bab kecker!” they all chuckled and I took a closer look into my case and saw something smoldering, it was the end of a very dirty cigarette….lovely. I threw it out in time before it had chance to burn my busking sign, I just stood and laughed at the fact someone so orange found it funny to do something like this…gross.
I don’t want to end this post on a negative story, so here’s something a bit more positive.
A More Positive Story
I went busking in Cheltenham around November 2016, on a Saturday which was insanely busy. It was the first time I’ve ever been to Cheltenham and really enjoyed the whole busking session, the town itself was lovely, it reminded me a bit of Worcester, there were some lovely people and I met a fellow bassist who later became my student for a few months.
As I was busking on the corner of the highstreet, I had a drone based loop on the go, I heard someone crying behind me, as I turned around I was embraced by the arms of short woman in very hippie clothing and long ginger hair, she put her arms around me and squeezed hard with tears running down her face. She let go and a very large smile grew on her face, she spoke whilst crying and said “Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been lost all day, and have been asking God for forgiveness. I followed these sounds and realised it is God giving me a sign that I he forgives me. Thank you for being here, thank you for lifting my spirit, thank you for the sign and for the forgiveness”. She was very animated with her crying and I had no idea how to react or what to say, I was completely blown away by this interaction with her, it brought tears to my eyes. As she was walking away she kept turning back and listening, still with tears streaming down her face.
I have no idea what to say about this whole interaction and connection I had with this woman as it left me speechless for a long time. But it just opened my eyes to how powerful music can sometimes be for people and how every sound/song/genre/artist means something completely different to each individual person.
No matter what your art is, busking is a platform for you to share it with so many different individuals, and you will always find someone who will enjoy your art. So go out and attract your audience and connect with people!
Thank you for following my website and reading this post!
If you like what I do and want to support me, you can donate here http://www.paypal.me/JamesChatfield
Please feel free to comment below, share your busking stories and any advice on busking you may have! I’d love to connect with more buskers and learn more about the art!
All the best!
See you next week!
I have also started a daily bass Vlog on my YouTube channel, you can check it out here –
– this video is a busking session in Kidderminster –