The trick to busking isn’t playing well, though that helps, but in staying on the field of play. Whether you play well or not, if you stand there long enough you’ll earn money. Really good buskers can hold a pitch all day.
Me, I last an hour, maybe ninety minutes, before my lip and my diaphragm throw in the towel. And in November, my fingers begin to stop working after a while too. The music is easy but the physical effort is demanding.
Another useful thing is to happen upon an event, as I did last night, and find hundreds of people passing by your pitch, which in my case is usually outside of Venells Cafe on Saddler Street. There’s an alley leading to the cafe that, if I stand just at the end of it, gives great acoustics.
There was some sort of festival of lights going on in Durham. Didn’t quite understand it, but it was busy, people were writing slogans on the glass of Scorpio shoe shop using pens in a box outside the door. There was a huge glowing snow-globe in the market square.
Just when I was finishing up, a lovely American couple stopped me and asked what I’d just been playing. I told them Watermelon Man and he said he thought it was, he’d seen Herbie Hancock a couple of years ago and recognised the tune. Sadly I was chilled to the bone by then and my fingers had frozen solid, so I couldn’t play more than a couple of bars more for them.
Think I’ll do another set tonight.