THE GRANDMA BUSKER!
I have given myself the nickname The Grandma Busker!
I am here to say that my adventure in busking has turned out to be way more helpful, eventful, productive and fun than I could ever have imagined!!
I busked once a week for the whole summer on Stephen Avenue Mall in downtown Calgary. I was hired by The Calgary Downtown Association through Stagehand (an online booking platform - check them out) and so I always started out with a payment to start my busking. Tips and CD sales would be the bonus.
It was very slow at first and I mentioned in earlier blogs that people did not stop at the spots chosen by the people organizing the buskers stations. There were no benches nearby to encourage people to stop and the area was narrow so that people who did stop felt like they were in the way of the walkers.
Several weeks ago I arrived at my designated spot only to discover two workmen with huge, loud cement grinders. I asked how long they would be and they said "All day!!" It would have been impossible to sing there so I looked for another spot and one block down I found an area with benches on both sides of the street with people already seated. I checked with the restaurant across from Winners and he said it was fine if I set up a cross from his patio with my amplifier.
When I started I welcomed everyone and thanked the Calgary Downtown Association for bringing live music to the mall and I began to sing.
It was like night and day!
People clapped when I finished a song and others stopped behind the benches and listened and I made more in tips on that one day than I had any other day. I made on-line friends with two young women from Germany who sat on a bench for almost all of my two hours like they were at a concert. They each bought a CD and I got a 10 Euro tip! It was so much fun!!
I decided to go back to the same spot the next time and the same thing happened. Lots of people sitting on the benches to listen for awhile and then giving a loonie or a toonie or fiver or an American dollar bill. A fellow came out of the patio with a $20 bill from tips from people at the sidewalk cafe. How cool was that!
Every time I set up at this spot I had lots of interaction and more CD sales. One of the CDs was for a woman who asked me to sing my song Waltzing With A Memory again. She had heard it earlier. She then sat with three of her friends across from me and I sang the song for her while she cried through the whole song. She said she might hire me to come to her birthday party!
Another time a fellow sat and listened to me for awhile and then disappeared. He returned and told me he had gone to the mall office to suggest that they come hear me to book me for the stage on Stephen Ave. When I got home there was a request for permission to send my link to the city!! A few days later I got an invitation to busk at a city event in September for a generous payment!
I am hoping that I have found my way into more City events!
Because I am returning to the same spot each time I have made myself learn some of my songs that I have not performed live very often. That has been good for me to challenge myself to perform new tunes.
I am loving working without a mic stand. The freedom that my head set mic gives me to move and interact is wonderful. I love my Bose amp and I am proud of myself that I have the stamina to stand and sing for 2 hours!
My final busking adventure will be busking at the First Annual Busking in Bragg Festival! I will do two 45 minute sets there. Fun!!
I will look for opportunities to busk through the winter. Busking is a good fit for me!
I am glad that I decided to try something new!