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As a new competition to find the world’s best buskers unfolds, we asked three Londoners about what it’s like being a one man band.

The competition is called Feeling the Street; an online platform in search of the best in unsigned talent performing on streets all over the world. You can get in among them or, better still, get picked as being in the best six who will form the ultimate busking band and tour New Zealand.

Alex, known as ABH Beatbox, is from Newcross and reckons that some of the best musicians he’s ever seen have been street performers but says, “it's not easy getting recognised”.

He went on, “I remember one amazing guitarist I saw shredding one of the best solos I'd ever heard, yet he had two people watching and felt very unappreciated. Busking works on crowd mentality, you can be doing some of your best material when no one's watching and hundreds of people will pass you by without caring, then you do the same thing when you have a small crowd and many more will stop and cheer. In this sense it's really nice to feel valued for what you do.”

Adam, from Greenwich already had a job working as a teaching assistant in a primary school when he started busking – as an opera singer – as a way of getting back into singing and giving himself practice.

“The first place I busked was Tooting Broadway Market,” he says. “I got a lot of support from the old school butchers, who'd been there about 20 years and also met some really cool people from the Brick Box cafe in Brixton.

“I really love the reaction I get from people there are always really surprised to see what I do I also really enjoy meeting people and I've got some really cool gigs from busking and seen places I never would've seen and met people I never could have dreamed if it wasn't for where I started.” 

Markets, it seems are fertile ground for starting a busking career. For Joseph Strouzer it was his local market in Chatworth Road, Hackney, where he started busking with his mate Willie Singerman.

“Our initial idea was that it would be a laugh and some good practice for our live shows,” he remembers.

“We soon started busking every weekend and formed a large band with some other local musicians. Soon after I left my job to play music full time and haven't stopped yet. I've busked all over the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy and in New Orleans and Los Angeles in USA.
“In the time since, busking has always been a part of my music and has allowed me to keep going as an artist when money has got really tight.... “

A global initiative backed by the car firm Toyota, Feeling the Street (feelingthestreet.com), believes this is the first time that the general public have been able to see the world’s best street performers in one place – and to vote for their favourite artists to create the ultimate Global Street Band.
Street musicians can enter by submitting a video of themselves playing an original song on their street corner. A global online audience will then vote by throwing money in the hats of the musicians they like most. This phase runs until 20 May, 2015.
After that, until 3 June, the audience will be able to pick a combination of the six artists they would most like to see come together. 
Finally, during the period between 4 June  and 20 June, the winning participants will be named and travel to New Zealand for a nine-day tour across the country that will culminate in a live performance on stage. Six audience winners will also be selected as ‘Roadies’ to travel with the band.


Talkback


Bit of a one man band? Be a busker
Digital Mag

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