The Toughest Gig in Town
Venture down the streets and back alleyways of any major city and you’ll be sure to stumble across the odd street musician, busking their heart out as people rush by -sometimes without so much as a second glance.
For many up and coming artists, busking is like a rite of passage. It’s the entry-level job of the music industry. Given the mentality we have about street performers, it also happens to be one of the toughest gigs going.
In 2007, renowned virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell (check the link below) took part in a social experiment testing context, perception, priorities and public taste. Two days after performing to a sold-out crowd, Bell donned street clothes and performed for a solid 40 minutes during rush hour at Washington DC’s L’Enfant Plaza Station. Out of the 1097 people that passed him during that time, just five stopped to listen. His talent and stature in the music world were irrelevant.
Fast-forward a couple of years and the mentality about street performers hasn’t really changed. Why don’t we take more notice? Are we really too busy to appreciate great music when we hear it? Granted, some buskers should have never picked up an instrument, but there are those who take their craft seriously and clearly get a real kick out of sharing their music.
Regular street performer and gifted musician Michael Fuhrman doesn’t seem to mind how people react to his music. The music itself, and the opportunity to share it, is more important to him. “If people take something positive away from listening it makes me happy,” he says.
Fortunately for Michael, his music isn’t the sort you can easily ignore. It greets you when you’re still half a street away and gently reels you in until you come face to face with its creator. His real, relatable and unpretentious songs strike a chord with anyone who’ll take the time to listen. And therein lies the beauty of busking – you can’t please everyone, but you please the ones that matter.
Many well-known artists such as John Butler, Sheryl Crow and Jimi Hendrix, started out busking and some continue to strut their stuff on the streets just for the love of it. For many up and coming musicians, busking is a part of their essential grass-roots education, giving them the chance to build their endurance for extended sets or to learn (the hard way!) how to hold a crowd.
It’s about time busking was no longer considered a form of glorified begging but appreciated as a convenient source of new musical talent and entertainment. We reckon that anyone who has the balls to do it should be eternally admired and supported. So next time you’re confronted with a busker, take a moment to stop and appreciate their talent and their guts! If they’re shit in your eyes- throw them a buck for giving it a crack.
Michael Fuhrman and his guitar regularly serenade shoppers at Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall so go check out his tunes and show your support for local talent. For detailed information on his upcoming performances, visit his Facebook page