Singing to raise funds
By codatim, Dec 12 2011 11:07AM
I've tried busking several times over the years with varried success. When I lived in Wiltshire I went into Bath a few times with a battered old guitar and bashed out songs in the small arcades. It was pretty soul destroying to be honest. I think that people see a busker a bit like someone whi is just asking them for money which is a bit unfair but let's face it; no one asked to be sung at while out shopping! I never really had the bottle to stand in the main street and belt it out.
It was more successful when Jane and I spent the summer on the Greek island of Alonissos where I pretty much scraped a living for the summer by busking in local tavernas on my own or with friends we made. Though it was a great experience and we made a bit of money by collecting and I sold a number of cassettes of my songs it was still a very odd relationship we had with the taverna owners, tourists and locals. Taverna owners were often looking for an angle to get people into their places but rarely wanted to actually pay me. I often did it for nothing but the right to have a sign in my hat asking for contributions. Locals also had mixed feelings as many of them (probably rightly) thought we were giving too much of an anglo/american feel where they would have preferred traditional Greek music. The fact that no one else was playing anything didn't seem to worry them. The tourists had the usual mixed feelings about buskers that you'd see anywhere.
This year I came across the cancer research initiative called Busking for Cancer. It really appealed to me because I have never been drawn to running a marathon or climbing Everest but busking for cancer seemed like something I could do. Many buskers these days give themselves an edge by using amplification, backing tracks and effects. To me busking is meant to be more organic so turning up (prearranged) outside a well known supermarket with nothing but a guitar and a poster seemed the way to go. I have been amazed on two levels: firstly the generosity of people when they realise that you are doing it for a cause that they understand and believe in (other than just yourself I guess). Secondly - how much I have really enjoyed the starkness of standing and singing as shoppers get on with their tasks. The two video clips on the video page actually sum it up perfectly. People quite like it but are moved to drop a few coins in anyway. Others give encouraging smiles too and you get the occasional request (I managed a chorus of Postman Pat for one family).
It's a pure way of making music relevant. No frills just a voice and guitar. If I wasn't in a band I'd do it more often but as it stands today I have raised £840 through busking and online donations. It's a great way to raise money doing what I enjoy.