performers' library

Windsor Festival Report (2000)
Windsor International Buskers Fest, Windsor, ON
Martin Ewen

1) Wild Bill Ferguson
2) Marc Segal
3) Alakasam
4) Al & C-mo
5) Alex Elixir
6) Jerry Rowan
7) Chameleon
8) Steve Elve
9) Spring Action
10) Glenn Singer
11) Tom Comet
12) Silly People
13) Lurk
14) Junkyard Symphony
15) Sean Bridges

It was like someone dumped a keg of red cordial at a playcenter. It was like a well meaning shellfish trying to control a school of barracuda. It was like a lot of performers had been saving their tantrum coupons for this very festival. It was like John McEnroe had bled into the water supply.

Hissy-fits were had by the handful. High tension pitch politics prevailed. Performers, using woman and children as human shields, would advance on one another. Issues covered: weather, schedule, volume levels, schedule, angling for the evenings perceived hotspot, politics in a fluid administrative environment, too few people, too many performers, too hard.

There were in fact, lovely shows, lovely weather, lovely audiences and good vibes to be had. Problem was; group dynamic fuckup. Normally everyone gives the hosts of a festival a great deal of goodwill considering they're paying the hotel bills and giving the chosen their audiences to bilk. Robert Nelson was between the admin and the performers. How he got there was his own business. The fact that egos and greed meant he had to play wetnurse before giving up in the face of a flurry of futile temporary gratification via anger. (i.e. I kick this chair- watch me roar) (i.e. its up for grabs to the highest tantrum.)

Apart from a handful of insular self-gratifing acts, everyone was out to prove they could make as much noise as the other chap, literally--each act had a PA and as they were competitively wound up, the venue descended into white noise leaving children bewildered and parents nostalgic for Grateful Dead concerts. Still enough of us had fun enough to make it a good festival. And the angry acts made what they were worth, which was heaps, cos they mask it while they work, their whole lives professional psychological elastoplast.

Still the valid point was made that we could have perhaps spread out more in the settings of the stages. North America survives on festivals as there's not a lot of street on offer as a career offering. Corporate crossovers, whose major income is merely tickled by the high cred of street theater, should perhaps, after defending the indefensible-their own importance- concentrate on communicating with their audience as well as fleecing them and probably more importantly focus on enjoying themselves.

Still you can't make an omelette, and this was one chunky, cheesy, bilious omelette full of roughage, without breaking eggs, straining cordial relations and generally acting like overcompensating bores. I enjoyed myself and my thanks go to Ken Brandes for putting up with us. (Monitoring who got onto the lifeboats on the Titanic would have been a doddle by comparison.)

Martin Ewen

Martin Ewen and his 3-meter-tall stilt character 'Lurk' have been traversing the globe for the past ten years observing the world from a slightly different perspective than the rest of us.

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