So recently I’ve been experimenting with a new set-up (above). Which involves me playing both bass and guitar simultaneously whilst ‘trying’ to sing. This all happened by a happy accident – wanting to learn a Ben Howard tune on guitar. I had the bass on, sat the guitar on my lap and used the bass to tune the guitar to an open tuning, hitting harmonics on both instruments – “that sounds cool! what if I hold a bass note and hit the guitar for harmonics and percussive stuff!?”. Since then I’ve not stopped writing and practicing with this set-up, apart from a few days off as I went busking with it and due to the cold, split my middle finger open whilst hitting the tiny sharp guitar strings!
I’m really enjoying playing around with this set-up and the challenge of trying to balance two instruments. I’m still trying to understand what the hell I’m doing and how to make it sound good, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done with it, but the practice is fun – so fun actually – I never want to put them down! Ahh I’m excited by this, I feel there’s so much potential with what I can do with this set-up.
The video is taken from my second live performance with this, it’s been a very terrifying and nerve racking thing! Especially with the singing, as I’m very very new to singing and know there’s a lot of vocal work to be done, I feel I can’t really sing just yet, but with lots of practice, maybe I could!? But it was a fun experience and it’s definitely building my confidence. I’m not overly happy with this performance and was very unsure on whether or not I should release it online, but then I thought it’d be cool to document my journey with learning the set-up and I guess have it to look back on and see where I need to improve and to see my personal progression with singing and performing.
This was on the 4th January 2018, so just over 2 weeks since I started messing around with the set-up, first video upload:
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Starting a one man band! It’s a shame my vocals suck, but playing this – whatever this is – makes me smile a lot 😆😆 . . . . . . . . . #bass #bassist #bassplayer #warwickbasses #warwickbass #solobass #basssolo#solobassist#jameschatfield#basschatfield#newmusic#instrumental#passionformusic#originalmusic#bassporn#bassuniversity#basshero#instabass#bassjam#bassforward#bassplayersunited#inspirebass#bassincredible#onemanband #twoguitars @wowmusicians @bassincredible @inspirebass
I’ll be uploading a tonne more content to the likes of Instagram and YouTube, so follow me on both of these platforms to see more clips from my quest: to learn how to sing, play guitar and play bass – all at the same time.
Thank you for following my blog and reading this post!
Much love for you!
Keep smiling and follow your heart!
Grab ya self some free music from my BandCamp!
Where my Heart Belongs – A recently uploaded solo bass track. Written on the feeling of being re-united with my Warwick Bass after being away from it for 5 months on a European tour as a Session bassist for Australian Folk Band The Wishing Well (Busking band who’ve been touring Europe, Australia, America for the past 15 years, there’ll be more blog posts on the busking adventures with these guys! As I’ve learnt a lot from them on the world of busking!).
Picking up this bass after so long was such an insanely good feeling! Writing on this made me release where my heart belongs and where I want to take my life, my music and the ones that are close to my heart. I think when you get a feeling like this, you’ve got to go all the way and complete the goals your mind and soul tell you. So whatever it is that you feel inside, just go do it, do it with all your heart and all your energy and don’t stop giving the world everything you have!
Writing and playing solo bass was one of the biggest things I missed while being away on tour, of course I missed my family and friends (mostly my Dog – Roxy! How could I not?! Look at her she’s the coolest dog around!).
I see music as an amazing way to express yourself and a medicine for everything, and when I play solo bass, it really helps me express myself to the fullest.
Busking in Stourbridge is always fun as I usually get approached by a very happy crazy drunken fool, I don’t know what his actual name is but lets call him ‘Crazy Crump’. So when ‘Crazy Crump’ approaches, you don’t see him first you hear him, he has this light and high pitched ‘ahya ahya’ laugh followed by many ‘yeah, yeah, yeahhh’. I heard him coming the other day, he was in a singing mood and came very close to me singing very loudly, singing about birds and sunshine in a different world, he got right in my face singing over some very mellow bass loops. (Which was described as ‘like water’ – love that, I really want to use that as an EP/Album title and compose a bunch of watery loop pieces – to do). At this point there were a lot of children coming out from school so town was busy which meant this unexpected duo drew a crowd, I’m sure there’s video evidence on someones SnapChat story or Instagram feed. It’s funny when things like this happen, it’s enjoyable to watch him enjoy himself so much, he was swaying his arms around and really belting it, he was making both me and many people passing by laugh, so there’s no harm from him. After he stopped singing he did try to put his hands all over my bass, which I’m not too cool with, so I told him to not do that and he laughed ‘ahyah ahyah, yeah yeah yeahh’, and just stood and watched for a while. He realised there was a loop playing and was like;
“You’re not even playing, ahyah ahyah, listen he’s better than you are (referring to the loop). Ahyah ahyah, listen he’s playing that and then you’re playing that. Now’s he stopped! (stopping the loop and starting to play another loop), now he’s playing again ahyah ahyah, what’s he doing? Is he better than you? Ahyah ahyah, yeah yeah yeahhh he is ahyah ahyah, he is!!”. He found this whole looping situation hilarious and was under the impression that we were having some sort of guitar duel. He went on to tell me stories about his life how he isn’t getting enough money to buy enough beers and ‘cocaine’ – probably where the crazy energy is sourced. He insisted that I stop and go get some beers together. Carrying on playing whilst he tells me this, he stops and puts his ear closer to the bass.
“Hey, hold up! I know this one, yeah yeah, I know this one. Who’s it by? Go on who’s this one?”, I was just improvising some stuff and he started singing the melody I was playing like he knew it already. “Ahyah ahyah, yeah yeah yeahhh, I know this one! Who’s it by? Ah I can’t think.” It’s by James Chatfield I said “That’s it yeah! I knew it, he’s dead now isn’t he, he was an old one! Good tune! I knew him, ahyah ahyah yeah yeah yeahhh I know this one”….wait I’m dead? What?! so apparently I’m some sort of reanimation of another James Chatfield who wrote this tune that I’m just improvising. ‘Crazy Crump’ is just …… After I finished busking I saw him again at the train station, beer in hand, swaying around, he saw me and kept shouting “Yeah yeah yeahhh, play another song! Go on, play one more now!” I just smiled and waved, stood at the train station I could see his head jumping up and down from behind a wall waving at me. I do wonder what would of happened if we went for a beer, oh lord ahyah ahyah!
As I mention a lot, you meet a lot of people while playing in the streets, from these crazy fools to lovely pensioners to musicians from all ages. Basically every type of person there is, you’ll meet in some form whilst busking. Which is great, it’ll for sure boost your confidence in talking and interacting with strangers, you’ve got to take all of these encounters in a positive way.
I realise this post has been uploaded later than expected! I’ve been busking the entire day and spent the night cooking curry for my Nan (tasty chickpea, spinach, mushroom curry!!) and playing snooker with my Dad and little brother. So I had little time to tweak and post in the day, but finishing it all now!
I hope you’ve enjoyed another busking story from myself! Stick around as there’s more to come! 🙂
If you enjoy my blogs and music, you can help support my journey
by directly donating to – paypal.me/jameschatfield
(any donation will receive a musical download!)
by purchasing music from my BandCamp page.
Feel free to contact me about anything – email@example.com
Have a positive week!
Think healthy happy thoughts and live a healthy happy life!
All the best,
Busking, travelling, composing, performing, bass’ing and other related subjects – is what you’ll get from these blogs I will be writing from now until I no longer own a device on which I can write an online blog. I’m going to be documenting my journey through music and expressing emotions and feelings of living the life as a travelling musician. I’ll capture and share stories/music from the people I meet through the journey. There’ll be a minimum of one blog post a week, the flow and consistency will develop over time, but I feel I’ve been holding it off for a while – and if there’s something you want to do-do it now! So I’m doing it right now, I don’t have any plan for this particular post, but I guess it’s an introduction into my thoughts, feelings and recent adventures.
I have recently been feeling very low and down on life, not wanting to give up, but realising it’s hard, life is hard. But you’ve always got to keep your head up and DO, even when you really don’t feel like doing it, put yourself through the motions of ‘DO’ing and you strengthen your capacity to DO. JUST DO!
When feeling like this quite recently whilst out busking, I’d been playing for just under 2 hours and was feeling unsure about continuing. When a man sat beside me with a bottle of squash and listened for a very long time, finishing a song I turned to him and smiled. Returning the smile he went on to say, “Thank you, thank you for being here right now at this moment. I’ve had a really rough couple of days and this right now has made me happy, it’s made my life better. Thank you“, he gave me some money and smiled. Thanking him I told him to keep his head up in the dark times, expressing my gratitude for this moment, passing him a CD and telling him, that all I want to do is spread positivity and happiness to people. We spoke about life and constantly moving forward no matter what, that ‘Darkness exists to make light truly count’-Sleeping at Last . He smiled and before leaving said, “Thank you, it’s not just the music and technicality of it that I like, it’s your spirit. Keep doing this, please“. I could see he was holding in tears, it must be some real rough times for him and I wish him the best in that, I hope to see him again and pass a smile of encouragement and hope. Writing about this brings tears to my eyes, life is hard, but I’m not giving up with my dreams and goals, knowing that I made a difference to this persons life makes everything worth it, it gives me a boost in belief, all I want to do is spread positivity and joy and give love to this world we live in.
So whatever it is you believe in your heart and soul, go out there and do it. Make your world a better place!
On a more positive feeling I’ve been thinking a lot about progression, I feel I need to really work hard at my craft and progress as a musician, composer and person. To do that requires documenting your self and evaluating everything you do, to monitor your mind and learn how your mind works and change it to better yourself. So I’m making a conscious effect to improve and become a better me, I will do this with daily recordings/videos which I can look back on and see what I need to do more of and what less of. This blog will also be a place for me to keep track of my progression, I’m sure the more blogs I do the better they’ll become.
Another positive note – I’ve been making CD’s and getting help from my little sister Starr. She’s getting a commission for each CD that sells that she designed. It’s cool to collaborate with the family and design artwork together, because everyone can draw, and everyone has a unique drawing style. That’s why I’ve fallen in love with art, it’s such a personal way to express your true self, with it you show the world the full true you.
If you like the look of these CD’s please feel free to send me a message/email and we can arrange a delivery for you! 🙂
Here’s a great picture from ‘Anthony Pearson’, who caught me busking in Worcester on a Sunday afternoon 🙂
I want to end this blog with this;
By many people I get told to “Keep doing what you’re doing“, I’m so grateful for these comments, it’s like a hint from the universe that I’m doing what I was set out to do. I feel it in my heart and soul, I see the path that I will take and I know deep down that this is all I have and what I was set out to do. I want to give life everything I have and die empty knowing that I’ve given all I can. Find your passion and give everything you have to the world around you! Be grateful and keep moving forward!
Keep doing what you do best!
All the best
Plans for 2017
2017 is here, the start to a new year, and with this I’ve made a promise to myself to only spend my time doing what I enjoy and to not full back into a ‘real job’, or commit myself to anything I’m not going to enjoy. So this is a year I’m very much excited for, I feel it’ll be – the year of the busker – where I can busk the whole year and spend the entirety of it doing what I love, music.
So far it has been an amazing start, with a crazy exciting opportunity being offered my way (something I’ll write about in the near future)… but unfortunately I also spent the first couple of weeks being very ill with a sickness bug, that very unluckily started during a New Years Eve session gig, where I ended up running off stage to spend the 2017 countdown in the bathroom…not fun. But this was no massive issue, it just prevented me from busking for a while as I could hardly move, I really do feel extremely positive about this year
With all my ideas and plans I feel making some form of a ‘Busking Bucket List’, will help give me motivation, an envisioned end goal, a task to complete by the end of 2017;
- Busk more cities in England – Spend a long weekend of busking/gigging at each of these Cities.
- – Cardiff – Liverpool – Manchester – Bath – Bristol – London – York – Brighton – Newcastle – Oxford – Hull – Bournemouth
- Jump on a train and travel through Europe to busk.
- Encourage my musician friends to start busking.
- 20+ friends, to get them at least 2 or more busks.
- Collaborate with other buskers from around Europe.
- Be involved with busking projects and busking events.
- To have many busking blogs uploaded to this page.
- Release an album worth of busking material.
At the end of this year I will be able to tick off each of these (potentially more, who knows), and have it all documented in some form. I’d love to encourage others to busk and give more through the art of busking. I feel these goals are achievable and very beneficial to myself as a busker, musician and person.
Free Food and Free Music
One of my first gigs this year, was performing at a Polish Charity event – WOSP, (The biggest non-profit, charity organisation in Poland). There were so many lovely people gathered, sharing stories, amazing food, raffles and auctions with lots of laughter and smiles. I was lost in translation for most of it, but I’ve always enjoyed listening to a conversation in a foreign language, trying to understand what they’re saying through the emotions they portray. Overall it was a great event, everyone was so bubbly and super friendly.
Towards the end of it, I was stood talking with the host in the kitchen, I noticed a mass amount of oranges piled up in crates and pointed it out. “You like oranges? Take one!” the host said, I took an orange (a single orange this is), “No, no, take a crate!”. 10 minutes later I’m carrying a huge crate of like 300 oranges back to the car! A pretty good payment, I’d happily get paid in fruit for gigs – the future – exchange music/art for food and vice-versa.
I was struggling to think how I could eat this many oranges before they went off, without turning into an orange myself, or having a vitamin C overdose or whatever weird things can happen from an ‘Orange Overdose’ (Song title – keeping this). So I shared them with the family, friends, neighbours and then thought “I’ll take them to the streets!” (below).
So here I am, with free oranges and free music out in Worcester! A lot of people walked past, saw the sign and giggled to their friends “Free oranges?!” (say that in loads of different voices/accents, at different pitches and volumes = what I heard all day). I did manage to share them with a few people, also dropping some into another buskers case ‘The Fidgets’. One woman walked past, had a quick look, walked backwards, stared at the bass case for ages, looked up and said “This is amazing, do more!”, took a photo of the sign and walked off. I definitely want to do this again, give out free food and free music, it’s sprouted so many ideas for future busks.
I also spent a very long time making the oranges dance, check it out below!
Thank you for following my website and reading this post!
If you like what I do and want to support me, you can donate via Bandcamp and get yourself some music! 😊 – chatfield.bandcamp.com
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!
The Power to Travel
Stepping into a life of a full time busker/musician, gives you a lot of freedom on where you work. I love it because I can just jump in the car (or on a train/bus) and just go somewhere! Anywhere! – that’s physically possible to get to via roads/public transport/walking. And I can go play someplace new, providing I make enough to cover traveling expenses and to grab food, (which 9 times out of 10 happens) I’m fine for a day trip out, which means I can explore a new place, meet new people and see other buskers. I’ve met buskers who do just this and have traveled further – Europe. The adventures they’ve had are just incredible, a ‘must do’, so a European busking road trip is definitely on my ‘busking bucket list’ – of which currently includes UK spots – Bristol, Brighton, Cardiff, Liverpool and more (If you know of good places to busk in the UK! Tell me!). London is on that list, which I have recently visited – more on that below!
Previous to making the decision to become a busker full time I spent a lot of time researching. Leading me to documentaries such as – No Tricks and Busking for Berlin (The story of ‘The Neigh Kid Horse’). Both inspiring me massively as they provide a very close informative look into – life as a busker, showing the potential of what busking can bring. I recommend these both as they’re generally very interesting and entertaining.
Busker Dub FX who I’ve been following for many years, a massive inspiration, bought a van one day with his girlfriend and traveled Europe, living entirely from busking, check out the performance I’ve linked – it’s crazy how many people he’s got gathered for the show. Each day they discovered many new things and encountered many challenges such as weeks of constant rain, which lead them to being stuck in the van! – rain – what a pain that can cause. Now I do love rain, but it can be a right nightmare when you want to spend a good day out busking. And it’s raining. Heavy. And relentlessly. I’ve busked out in the rain, as there’s a few spots I go where there’s shelter, but it’s a difficult one as gear can get wet and a lot of people are running around trying not to get too wet. It’s still possible to go out and busk in it, and I suppose a lot of people appreciate the fact that you’re out providing music even in such weather. But it’s just not a preferred situation to be in. On the odd occasion I’ve sat in the car reading, writing or playing, waiting for the rain to settle down, here’s a video of me doing that. Car Gig – event idea? – wouldn’t fit much of an audience in though..
So with this power to travel, I took a road trip down to London! Having a close friend down their too, meant I had the chance to see her and watch her band – Norrell and the Dub Factory – perform their debut single release show. Hearing a lot about London busking I thought it’d be quite an interesting adventure and if all went well it could be a regular occurrence.
During the release show I met Drummer – ‘Emanuele Marchetti’, who I had a lovely conversation with about grooving and busking. Having previously busked in London with a few bands, Emanuele was very interested in having a jam! So on the Sunday we met up and busked together – street jams! – picture below of our spot on ‘Oxford Circus’.
We played a lot of groove stuff, working around some cool shuffles and funk based riffs, funking up theme tunes like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. It was a completely different vibe to what I normally busk solo, which is quite mellow, but it was still great fun playing and people reacted very well to it! We had a lot of people dancing especially towards the later session we did around 6pm. Being it quite a busy part of London, there must of been thousands walking past, quite fast, the people that seemed to enjoy it most would slow down when they were close, boogie a little, take a picture or something and drop us a coin. There was this one lovely woman who filmed us for ages, panning around us, doing close ups with her phone for at least like 10 minutes, she then asked us a bunch of questions and told us about how her Dad was a drummer who’ll love watching this back, dropped us a £10, carried on watching, then joined in the crazy flow of traffic.
As well as Oxford Circus, I busked Brixton – cover photo from the spot I performed. It was a lovely spot, the sun created some beautiful colours, and there were loads of chairs scattered about the place so people could comfortable sit down and watch. It also seemed to be a skateboarding hot-spot, as throughout the time I was there, there was an increase in skaters, starting from about 2, ending with about 20. It created this really cool scene, almost like a flash mob/pop up event of music and skating, it attracted a lot of attention and loads of photographers were taking pictures, and a crowd emerged, I wish I took some photos/videos myself, but I’ll have to wait to hear from the photographers! I’ve got an audio recording of the session, which has this background ambience of skateboards, it sounds quite cool with them panning around, I’ll have to upload them soon!
Most people who enjoy my music will throw a few coins in, notes sometimes. But whilst I was in Brixton, I was given more than just a few coins, I was given food. Some guy with a very strong London accent stood watching me for a while, he came over and dropped a few coins, “Yous reminds me of Stanley Clarke mate! I like it, a different approach to bass”. We started talking more about bass and what players inspire me, where I’m from, how long I’ve been playing etc. A very friendly guy, who then bought a CD from me and walked away, “Cheers mate, have a good session, lovely day for it”. I started playing another tune, and he came back, “What choo eating for tea tonight mate?”, a bit confused by this question, as it almost sounded like a date offer, I replied, “I’m staying at a friends, so we’re probably gonna cook some food at hers, pasta or something. Why?”. He then rummaged through his bags, and pulled out some beef strips, rice noodles and a stir-fry sauce, and dropped them in my bass case, “Here ya go mate, have ya self a stir-fry. On me! Feeling a bit crazy today. My wife will probably be annoyed, but enjoy mate!”. He smiled and walked away. He gave me food! and not just any food, M&S food!
Being a Vegan I gave the beef to my friend who’s place I was staying at during my London visit, and with the noodles and sauce we made a mighty vegetable stir-fry (Portobello mushrooms, aubergines, courgettes, chickpeas, peppers, broccoli + many herbs + all the spice – ahh I love food!). It was a pretty cool thing having food given to you when you play, I’ve had people give me tea before which is pretty cool, “You bass man! How do you have your tea?!”, some guy shouted at me once poking his head out of a Greggs whilst playing on a high street, “Black, one sugar!”, minutes later I had a lovely warm tea in my hands – it’s great! Tea is definitely an essential whilst busking during colder seasons!
This food donation thing, happened again whilst busking in Kidderminster. Look!
I got poppets! Someone walked past, dropped them in and wished me a Merry Christmas! – a good day, I sold a bunch of CD’s as well!
A Busking Tip – From Nan
“As long as you have a bass guitar and belief, you’ll be fine” – My Nan.
And she’s right, as long as I keep playing, have a bass guitar and believe in myself I’ll be fine. You can apply this to any busking art – as long as you work hard at your craft, commit yourself to your art and believe in what you are doing then you have nothing to worry about!
Thank you for following my website and reading this post!
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! Thank you again!
Stick around for more solo bass busking adventures, videos and music! 😀
Over the past couple of months I’ve ventured out into the world of Busking, and loved it. It’s something I feel every musician should try at some stage. And with the experiences I’ve had and stories to tell, a documentation in a blog format seems like a good idea. Here I’ll be sharing these adventures with you and keeping a record of my busking journeys.
So welcome to my website! and my first ‘Solo Bass Busking’ blog post!
I hope you enjoy!
First Steps Into Busking
I began busking occasionally in early October, about once a fortnight. I was highly inspired by seeing other buskers, I thought “Why not just go practice in the streets!”. I found that the more I busked, the more I enjoyed it and the more intrigued I was by the opportunities that would arise – playing out in the streets opens many many doors! I was also surprised (as many people are) at how much money I could earn and how many people I connected with, whether it be; a smile, a compliment, a drunken dance or a general chat about music, life and the universe. I connected with a lot of people on a whole new level, a level totally contrasting ‘the connection’ you get when selling someone the latest discount on biscuits (“3 for a £1!! You’ve sure made my day sir!” – Old Lady in a Red Dress).
This first step into busking made me question why I was sticking at a job that didn’t fulfill my passion or give me this ‘positive connection’ with the world. So I started busking more frequently, travelling around a bit more and spending any day-off out playing in the streets, the income and happiness that came from it just made sense to pursue it full-time and work my a** off as a busker/musician. So I did. I left my comfortable job in retail, to become a full-time busker/freelance musician. And, it sure has increased my happiness, boosted my confidence as a solo performer, presented many opportunities and introduced me to a lot of great people and friends. So if those aren’t good enough reasons to take a leap of faith, then I don’t know what is. Admittedly I probably chose the hardest month to busk – Winter is Coming! But I’ve made my choice now and I’m not giving up, as they say – “Be that fool!”
A Solo Bass Busker!
So here I am, a solo bass busker –
“That’s only got 5 strings!”
“You’re making those sounds with a bass?!”
“I thought guitars were smaller and had more strings, why is yours so long?”
“A bass guitar, with a capo?”
A few recent comments I’ve received.
The picture above was taken in the town of Kidderminster – a very small town with an incredible background of music. The weird looking thing behind my amp is actually, ‘street furniture’ in the shape of a vinyl stack, there are many scattered around the town center, each with a brief story on the towns music history. (Also the lady in the background is totally smiling because of me bass riff…).
My current set-up consists of; my bass, battery amplifier (QTX QR10PA – highly recommend), a few pedals (Boss DD-7 + Line 6 Dl4 – once again both highly recommended), a bass case to carry it all, collect donations and show my enlarged business card and …a capo. It’s quite an easy carry, I’ve seen other buskers cart a tonne of stuff around and I’m glad my set-up isn’t that bulky (well just yet, I’m thinking of expanding with new instruments + more pedals). So it doesn’t take long to set-up and I can condense myself into a small performance space.
I’d explain my sound to be quite relaxing and melodic, with a soundtrack/math-rock feel to it, you can make your own judgement by checking my music out here – Chatfield Demo. I like to give the space I’m performing in a relaxing/chilled out soundscape. I feel that nowadays some people rush about and stress too much, so when I’m busking I hope to think that I can give the public a sound that helps them forget their worries for just a moment and …relax (Notice your breathing – regularly – it’ll calm your body and mind). There have been occasions where people have sat next to me and thanked me, receiving a thank you from people is incredible, this is something I appreciate so much and I just can’t explain how much it means to me when this – me playing bass in the streets – creates a reaction like that. ‘A positive connection’, that’s what really makes the whole busking thing worth while, plus you get an immense amount of practice!
Performing out in the streets. Puts you out in the open. To a lot of people. I mean a lot. Like sometimes…… strange people.
I do really like people, and busking has shown me the generosity of people and has really opened my eyes to the positive energy that flows through us all…but, being there ‘out in the open’ invites anyone to come speak/interact with you, and with this I’ve met some strange people. Example A:
So there I was playing away, adding more percussive layers to my loop and I had this sudden cold shiver down my neck, followed by the sound of breathing and a voice “Do you play any of that metal? You know, like, Judas Priest, like, Pain Killer? Like”. I turned around to see a small man stood basically resting his chin on my back, lacking teeth, holding a plastic bag filled with ‘Frosty Jacks’ (A cheaper/stronger cider) and an open can of Strongbow in his hand, his smile was wide and his head was bobbing. It was definitely a unique way of introducing yourself to someone, I wouldn’t advise his kind of approach to someone you intend to date. “Ermm…not really. My tunes are far slower and it’s just solo bass”, I didn’t really know how to initially react, but that was my reply. I paused the loop and turned to him, he had a kind smile but his head bobbing was a bit intense, “Go on mate, Metal like! Show me how fast you can play like! Shred it!!! Wheeyyy!!” (followed by the rock horns). After many requests of Metal tunes, I think he got the message that I wasn’t a metal player, and then continued to talk in a more conversational way. He told me about how he enjoyed cider thoroughly and he had a bit of a drinking problem, and that Metal was a way to release energy and go a bit wild “…I set a few bins of fire last night…” – releasing energy..? It’s crazy what people tell me when I’m just there in the streets playing. I then played a tune for him, which he started dancing to, everyone seemed to give us funny looks, probably thinking we were a duo act. “Go on, play that bit faster like!” he shouted during one point of the song, I tried, but I couldn’t play fast enough for him. “Nah mate, like I actually really enjoy your music, mellow ennit like. I’d give you some money but I don’t get paid till next Tuesday like”. He searched his pockets again and found 30p throwing it in my case “That’s all I got like! Sorry! Keep playing though, good stuff mate! Take it easy like”, smiled and bobbed away into the distance swinging his bag of Frosty Jacks about.
A strange encounter with someone I must admit, but it made me laugh and smile a lot seeing him dance with his wide smile bobbing away.
There’s been a few encounters with drunken people, the majority of the time they’ve been very friendly and quite funny, like that one. I did have someone stumble towards me with a Special Brew in one hand and what smelt like a joint in the other, “You’re playing is s*** mate, where’s Bob Marley?! Give me some reggae reggae dance beats man!”, before I had time to reply he continued “Wouldn’t even give you 10p mate!”….ermm okay, good! He stood staring at me intensely for a minute, did some weird arm sweep and stumbled away.
I’ve also met some sober people too! I don’t just attract the strange ones! (Although there are other stories to share on strange encounters, but I’ll save them for future posts).
I’ve interacted with a lot of musicians, who’ve asked for collaborations, exchanged details, got me gigs and asked me to join bands/attend certain music nights. It’s a great way for musicians to find other musicians, the ultimate networking venue – the streets. I’ve had so many amazing chats with musicians and music lovers, sharing with me their experiences busking, artists I should check out, their musical adventures, advice on living as a musician and just general music chats. Some have been interested in a certain technique I’ve been playing and asked how to play it, and I’ve met older people who have just started learning guitar wanting to know how to play barre chords without their fingers hurting. It really is amazing the people that you meet, when playing out in the street, (that moment when you rhyme two words, and you think about pursuing a career as a rapper….) because you’ve made a beat, and they think it’s pretty sweet, so they drop some dolla for you to eat, take a pic and post a tweet, feeling pretty upbeat, what a nice greet, feels like a treat, to make a beat, for the people on the street……………………….(mic drop…)
A Busking Tip
I’ll end this first ‘solo bass busking’ post with a tip for any of you who are wanting to busk, have thought about busking or you’re just generally interested in busking.
Just go do it!!
Seriously, just go out there and play, because the only way to really know if busking is for you, is to just do it, go out and hit the streets with your music. Even if you have no material ready or are unsure on what to play, just – grab your instrument (whatever it may be) and play something that’s true to you. Because it will, for sure, open your eyes to a new way of performing, give you practice and generally feel great to know that your music – your music – is out there filling the streets with sound, providing it with a whole new soundscape. It will be nerve-racking/scary at first but once you pass that line, you’ll feel great!
Whats the worst that can happen?! Someone will ask you to turn down/move – turn down/okay move to a different spot. You’ll get in trouble with the police – as long as you’ve checked it’s okay to play there through the towns website – you have the right to be there.
What is the best that can happen?! People will love your music, share a compliment, donate money, ask where to find your music online. You will get better at your instrument, become a better performer and gain confidence in your music. You will meet amazing people! You could even meet your future lover (it’s been known to happen). You’ll make someone smile! The possibilities and opportunities are endless! – so – JUST GO DO IT!! Please! Because I’d love there to be a future where music is just anywhere and everywhere!
Thank you for following my website and reading this post!
See you next week for more of my busking adventures!