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Old 04-13-07, 12:58 PM   #1
bceagle
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Default Busking spots across Canada

I am a new member of performers.net, and have been doing street music as a busker in Vancouver, BC and also on the Sunshine Coast in BC. I sing and play guitar and harmonica for songs I write and also songs from the late 60s and early 70s.
I am planning on travelling across Canada, starting in BC and hopefully make it to Quebec. I would like to know where the best busking spots for a street musician to perform across the country. So I am looking for suggestions from members of performers.net where I can perform as a busker and I will plan the route of my trip based on the best busking spots.
I thank you all for your input.
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Old 04-19-07, 01:48 PM   #2
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I'm heading from Alberta to Ontario in a short while, if I can keep an update from the road I will do so.
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Old 04-19-07, 03:06 PM   #3
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Thanks Schuyler, I look forward to your posts as you go busking from Alberta to Ontario. Once I get going, I plan on doing updates of my street music experience, probably on a blog.
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Old 04-19-07, 10:20 PM   #4
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No trouble. I'm taking off in May, but I must warn you, I'll be traveling slowly by bike and I'm probably going to have a hard time getting onto the internet. But I'll what I can. See you around sometime, perhaps.
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Old 05-10-07, 01:50 PM   #5
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Hello. Posting from the public library at Trochu, Alberta. It's a little out of the way, but it's a seriously nice place. The crowds are friendly, if you can catch them at the right time. The biggest problem here is that it's a very small town, which means that there isn't a lot of foot traffic. If you have the time, advertise in advance, to bring a crowd around when you perform, otherwise you'll have to settle for two or three people. Really though, entertainers seem to be a real oddidty here so the people are chatty and a good hat line will kill.
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Old 05-10-07, 02:40 PM   #6
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Default busking in Trochu, Alberta.

Thanks for your input ~ Schuyler
I can imagine you are meeting a lot of nice people, especially when you are busking in a town where buskers are rarely seen. But you never know what can happen. You might be invited to perform at a private gig, and get paid for it. This has happenned to me, although not very often.
In any case, as long as you are having lots of fun and getting some compliments, and hopefully, making a few loonies, it is probably all worth it.

thanks again, and I will be looking forward to your next post and where you are busking.

take care
from bceagle
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Old 05-13-07, 06:25 PM   #7
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One excellent place to busk is Farmer's Markets, if you're going through town and they're having one, get in contact with the organiser type person. I've done fairly well in the past.

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Old 05-16-07, 04:46 PM   #8
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Sadly I'm only in a town for maybe two days if we're slacking off. I'm biking across Canada with a group of people. Otherwise I'd love to stop at farmer's markets.

I'm in Hanna right now, which has friendly people and decent foot traffic. I hate to say that I don't know how much I'll make because I haven't been out yet. I'm about to go after I post this, and then I won't have computer access again for a while. Hopefully the turnout is good. I still have problems getting crowds in small towns so I've taken to placing a can near me with a little sign.

So far we've been taking secondary highways on the trip, and as such I've been running into small towns. The last two I was in before Hanna, AB, were Morrin and Dellia. Both were absolutely tiny, and Dellia was mostly boarded up. This resulted in no foot traffic anywhere. Towns with less than a thousand people are hard to busk in.
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Old 05-18-07, 03:20 PM   #9
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That's too bad. Well, good luck with your endeavor!

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Old 05-30-07, 04:00 PM   #10
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It's a really spooky feeling when there's no foot traffic anywhere. Perhaps we're just in towns that are far too small. I'm in Kindersly Saskatchewan now (We've stopped here for almost a week due to it being a nice town and the weather being crummy). I don't know what to do when there's nobody around.

So I can see where a good pitch might be, where the crowds would gather and the such, but there's nobody around. It's not just the weather, I was here on a couple good days too. I would sit in a pitch for a while trying to get a feel for how many people were going by and they'd pass at a trickle. I don't know what to do. Do I stand in an empty pitch and juggle, and deliver my lines and do my tricks as if there were people there? I do a little bit of bizarre magic along with the juggling now, should I save that for a crowd that isn't coming or do the one or two people who MIGHT stop warrant it? I don't think I can hold a crowd doing the simple stuff until more people show up to justify putting on a full fledged show. Heck, having ANYBODY stop would be a treat.

I think some of these places just don't know how to handle a juggler. When we were stopped in Oyen just outside of the Saskatchewan border it was a nice day and people were out walking around. So I stopped, and I put down my hat and broke out the clubs and started juggling, doing tricks, talking with everybody who walked by. And they were friendly, and most of them complimented my juggling and told me that they were impressed, and we talked about the bike trip while I juggled, and then they said bye and walked away without dropping anything. It's not like they didn't know I was trying to make some money at this, it's more like they just didn't realize that THEY were supposed to be paying. Plenty of people walked past and whistled and kept on going.

Anyways, it's a weird feeling standing there and putting on a show or invisible people. There's a rodeo in town tomorrow so I'm going to go phone the organizers and ask if I can juggle for tips there. I also picked up a violin here in Kindersley because I've been missing having an instrument to play, and maybe if the juggling doesn't take I can play that. People may not know what to make of somebody juggling with a hat holding a bit of coin next to him, but I'm sure everybody knows what somebody playing music with their instruments case next to them is asking for.

Ta'.
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Old 05-31-07, 01:16 PM   #11
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Guitar where to busk suggestions

Hello Schuyler

It was nice to hear you are in Kindersley Sask. I am originally from Saskatoon. I was busking last winter at the Granville Market in Vancouver, performing a song I wrote called In Saskatoon the Wind Blows Free, and a big guy with a cowboy hat asked me about the song. He was from some small town in Sask. I also did the song, In the Jailhouse Now, which he really seemed to like.
I asked him, where there were any good busking spots in Saskatoon, and he told me it is common to see buskers on Broadway Street, which is also close to where Joni Mitchell first started performing in a small coffee house there in the mid 60's.
I wanted to suggest some spots in towns you visit, where you might get more tips.
Try and busk in front of places where there is lots of foot traffic, like grocery stores, mall entrances, liquor stores, plus keep a lookout for craft markets and farmer's markets. It is always a good idea to seek permission from the stores owner before busking.
The time of day for busking is important. I have always found the best times to be from noon hour to 2:00 pm. Since you appear to be having a problem with people even knowing you are accepting tips, I would suggest you put a little sign in your hat, that clearly states something like, "Tips gratefully accepted". Also, I always try and say 'thank you' after a tip is given, even if I am in the middle of a song.
Since you know have a violin, I would suggest you use the case of violin instead of your hat to collect tips. If possible, stand the violin up behind you while you are juggeling, as this will also attract attention. Playing your violin will attract more people, simply by the music you create will make people curious as to where the sound is coming from. Play tunes that people will recognize, and make a mental note as to what pieces you play generated the most smiles (and hopefully, cash), then make sure you play those tunes again, at times when the foot traffic is heaviest.
Even though it is nice to talk to the people passing by, remember, you are working, so try and limit any long conversations you may get into to.
Do not limit yourself to just busking outside. Approach coffee shops and restaurants and ask if they would be interested in you doing a performance inside their place. I have done this in the past, and all I have asked for is a free meal, and, also, play for tips inside the business.
Make up a small brochure of your performance, and offer your entertainment service for private childrens and adult parties. You could even offer a juggling course, and teach people how to juggle.

As the weather is getting warmer, and people are getting in more of a holiday mood, you should find them to be more generous and you will make more tips.

take care
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Old 06-07-07, 12:31 PM   #12
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Kindersley was nice. I got permission from some organizers to juggle at their rodeo, in the lobby. All in all I made eighteen dollars, which I figure was good seeing as how apparently my audience consisted of people under the age of twelve. Those kids were generous, it's just a shame their parents weren't

The big surprise came down the road in Fiske. It was a hot day so we stopped for drinks. Now Fiske is a tiny old town full of abandoned buildings, near as I could tell. There was a sports day going on and it was the only place we could get drinks and food, so we stopped. And we got to talking with a woman there who was interested in the bike trip. And it turns out that she was the activity organizer for the sports day, the one day that there would ever be enough people gathered in Fiske to form an audience, the day a person she just discovered happened to be a juggler was passing through. It was great. I did a short show for the kids there and at the end of it she handed me a more than generous amount for my trouble. Sometimes the universe is weird.
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