I have never…

I have never… been busking.

Well I finally did it, today I had my first real busking experience. I’ve played guitar for a few years now but I’ve always been petrified of playing in front of people. I’ve had enough trouble playing guitar in front of my mum let alone a street full of strangers in broad daylight. However I broke through the barriers of fear, whipped my guitar out and busked.

Unsure where to position myself, I decided to stay local and play on a fairly quiet bridge where the odd few people pass by on Northwick Avenue (whenever I say that I cannot help but change up Duffy’s lyrics to ‘Warwick Avenue’.) Approaching the bridge, the area around seemed somewhat deserted, just me and my flatmate – excellent. But as soon as I opened my guitar case a flurry of pedestrians started appearing out of nowhere! I felt like Simba amongst a stampede of wildebeests in The Lion King, dramatic but true! Nevertheless I hesitantly started playing whilst gaining a few strange looks from many a passerby.

Busking, or street performing is a centuries old tradition dating back to times when town criers, bards and wandering minstrels used to travel from town to town entertaining the public. It’s a profession to some, in London most buskers can be found playing in tube stations, granted you have a busking licence, and in Covent Garden around every corner is a street performer.

I played several acoustic-y tunes, not singing of course, playing guitar in public is embarrassing enough. Including Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly’s ‘War of the Worlds’, the acoustic version of Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘Under The Bridge’ and Newton Faulkner’s ‘All I Got’.

Following this challenge I think I’ve gained a lot more respect for buskers. It’s a rather big deal to play to complete strangers, whether they’re on the tube or on Northwick Avenue Bridge buskers come face to face with new challenges everyday. It’s also not exactly the best income, but for musicians any income is something as the music industry is one of the toughest industries to break in to.

I’m not exactly Andy McKee or Jimi Hendrix but drum roll here is a short video of me playing quite badly and totally inelegantly. Warning: I am the definition of awkwardness and my guitar was a little out of tune.


About Francesca Birch

19 year old first year Journalism undergraduate studying at the University of Westminster.

One comment on “I have never… been busking.

  1. lisdavid89
    March 3, 2012

    That’s not bad at all. But you’re right about the guitar being slightly out of tune. I have never been busking but I did once do a solo acoustic guitar & singing performance for a student group and even messed up on a verse. It felt quite embarrassed. In my opinion, I think it’s far more pressure to perform in front of an audience where you know some of the people than performing outside in front of strangers, but I may be wrong.

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