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The Many Joys of Busking with the Banjo

Posted by Gareth Banjoland on Saturday, December 20, 2008

Now as some of you may know, I am a professional street performer, its what I've done since I was thirteen and it is a truly wonderful way to make a living.

I never worry about not having money because I know that I can go out and do a show if there's enough folk to pull a crowd, or pick the banjo if there's only enough for passing trade. Now I'm not a millionaire by any means but I do feel financially secure.

One thing that I do really enjoy (especially round this time of year, when there's loads of people out in the street) is going banjo busking. Its like getting paid to practice, and a great way to consolidate new tunes.

I don't know what its like in the states, but here in Australia banjo players are an endangered species and most folk are suprised to see one, which gives me a certain novelty value which is great for busking.

The elderly population are particularly happy customers as the banjo reminds them of "the old days", kids are fascinated by something they possibly have never seen before, parents with toddlers often stop and point out and name the banjo to them, and its amazing how any people had or have a grandad or grandma who played the banjo.

It is also the best way to meet other banjo players or anyone who has an interest in the instrument, and I often get offers for teaching and quite a few gigs as well.

Today I had a three or four year old girl who by the looks of things has been doing a bit of ballet seemingly possessed by my version of Liza Jane, she started to dance up a storm there on the streets of Ballina- much to the amusement of her father and several onlookers, after this spectacular performance of ballet inspired hillbilly choreography, her pa gave her a donation to pop in my case, as she popped it in I casually quipped "Thank you, now go and ask your dad for some more" And what do you know - SHE DID!!

This was all making good entertainment for the small crowd that was now watching, and before I knew this little gem of a girl was going round collecting donations from everyone! I asked her Dad if I could take her on tour! She then did another top little dance to Clinch Mountain Backstep, and then her and her generous father went on their merry way.

This magical sort of stuff seems to happen all the time, even if its just an ol-timer dancing a little jig on his or her way past or a quick joke with a shop-keeper on their lunchbreak, I feel like I am bringing an unexpected little bit of joy into peoples lives, and the terrific thing is, I get paid for it!.

4 comments on “The Many Joys of Busking with the Banjo”

Banjov1 Says:
Sunday, December 21, 2008 @12:08:08 AM

That sounds like a lot of fun Gareth. I'd like to think that I'll feel comfortable enough to do some busking in another year or two. It's funny, outside of NY and SF here in the states, I've never seen any banjo buskers. I guess I'm spending too much time in DC and Baltimore. But like you said, that will increase the novelty factor if and when I do get out there someday.

Now if I can just drum up a banjo lovin preschool ballerina around here, I'll be set ;-)


pluckyfingers Says:
Monday, December 22, 2008 @7:36:56 AM

I know what you mean about kids and the banjo. In this hi tech modern computer age, I find that, when I play to kids. it's like a new a experience for them. Most have never, seen, heard or touched a banjo and you feel like you giving them something they will always remember. Keep up the busking Gareth, let me know if you can busk in Melbourne and I'll come along and "throw" some money at you.

5strings3picks1banjo Says:
Monday, December 22, 2008 @5:58:25 PM

Sounds like alot of fun, keep bringing joy to people. Merry Christmas.

Banjobrothers Says:
Saturday, January 17, 2009 @4:57:06 PM

Thats great gareth,keep on spreading the spirit!

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