Most of us buskers will experience receiving food for our talent at some stage or another. The biggest haul I ever had was a few years ago at a market in Cornwall. It was a slightly chilly September day and there were no other buskers in sight. I earned an absolute fortune that day, but that was the first time the market stall holders really showed me their appreciation. I received more food than I could eat in a week probably. Loaves of bread, fruit and vegetables, curry, and cakes. I remember having to share some of it with family so it wouldn’t go bad.
Since then I occasionally get the odd free meal which really helps brighten my day. The last time was when I was busking in Lincoln and I played next to a Greek food van. They were happy that I stayed even though the other vendors left and gave me a cup of tea and some Souvlaki. There was also another time when I was busking in the Angel Market in London. I was next to a guy selling paella. He gave me some to eat on my journey and now we’re friends on Facebook.
I once got a half-eaten pizza. Clearly I don’t need it, so I gave it to a homeless guy with a sign that said he was hungry. He just said thanks, shoved it behind him and put his sign back up again. I like to think I helped him out a little bit.
Young people are the best, especially large groups of school children. Sometimes people sing along while I’m playing but it’s a completely different experience when a large group of school girls are singing along. You feel much more noticed or even as if you’re on a large stage. It’s also an awesome feeling when you play obscure songs and some people actually recognise them and sing along.
People sometimes start dancing along and that’s really amazing too. It shows that they really enjoy what I’m playing and more people take notice when that happens.
Occasionally when people walk by it’s obvious it’s someone’s birthday. I usually take the opportunity to start playing happy birthday for them. Once a lady was with her group of friends, she tried to call them back when she noticed me playing the song for her. It seemed they had all the money, but she gave me a slightly drunken hug as a thank you. I thought that was nice that she really appreciated it at least.
Another time I played happy birthday when some people had shouted it’s so and so’s birthday. The group had gone up the escalator, but then came back down to give me some money! So that was worth doing. They thought it was really awesome of me to play it for the birthday girl.
I’m sure I’ve had many more happy experiences but I can write about them more as and when in future blog posts. Coming next are the not so good experiences. Are there any other buskers out there with good experiences to share? Add them to the comments below!
Serena Smith is an American British violinist and fiddle player. I play full time as a street musician in addition to the live gigs I perform with several bands.