There are a lot of musicians in town, and all of them – except maybe Nick Cave, David Gilmour and the bloke out of Dollar – are broke. So rather than taking to the street begging, many people take to the streets to entertain. This is both a very good and a very, very, very bad thing. Jesus, there are some shocking buskers in Brighton, not least the guy who plays random notes on his electric guitar in New Road. Get a practice room, mate. Anyway, here are six buskers we’re always happy to hear.
Tape Player Boy
With busking you can either have a good gimmick or a great voice. The kid with the Kid’n’Play haircut (cool enough to get into our Street Style page) has got both. A sweet falsetto that’s going to see him in the charts over thoughtful r’n’b any day now, he keeps things interesting by singing over a colourful 80s cassette player. It’s totally adorable. He’s currently at the BRIT School (hear his stuff here) and is certainly Most Likely To Succeed of the class of 2013 buskers.
Salty Sea Dog
Wearing a costume while busking can make you stand out, and even if that guy that sings sea shanties with a mandolin is just playing a character he’s still ace. But we’re sure he means it, man. Looking like he’s just got off a particularly dramatic episode of Deadliest Catch, his songs seem to be a window into his dark soul. He’s absolutely arresting in his intensity and the songs are great. We haven’t seen him since the sun came out – maybe he’s more comfortable in the driving rain.
The last thing you want when you’re busking is people getting bored, and this guy – who looks like he might be in an indie band – keeps things moving by frequently mixing up two songs at a time. One minute he’s hooked the children in with songs from The Jungle Book, and the next the oldesters are raving to ‘I Like To Move It’. It’s a wall-to-wall party set, all killer no filler. Best fun when he has a tuba player along for the ride, obviously.
We suspect this guy has been around for a while but has increased his fanbase with a radical image change. Just ask any cockney who’s looking to roll out the barrel, everyone loves a good tinkling of the ivories, but with the added Rowlf outfit the kids are now fully on board too. Props for not being a dick about people taking photos, and also for being able to play so well without being able to see the keys. Jolly good fun.
Straw Boater Chaps
Even good buskers will struggle to pull a crowd, but these guys, who play modern music on trad jazz instruments, always have people transfixed. That’s because as well as being great musicians they’re also real showmen – weaving in and out of each other while knocking out ‘Seven Nation Army’ on banjos, military style drums and a big old brass sousaphone. It’s great fun and it’s not unusual to see people dancing. You can even hire them for your wedding at ironbootscrapers.com.
Steel Drum Dude
There’s a few things we like about this guy. Firstly, his commitment to work – he’s always at his ‘desk’ on the Pavilion Gardens path. Also he’s made a career with the most unusual of instruments, which we think is a Zimbabwean mbira dzavadzimu in a deze. Add in an occasional big headdress and a frequent even bigger smile and you’re onto a winner. He’s also not afraid to collaborate, mostly with the soprano sax hippie guy. If all the buskers got together to create a supergroup he’d be the glue that held them together.
Photo By Pooka Photography
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