Taking it to the streets

M magazine caught up with a few of our members up and down the country who started out busking on the streets of the UK and Europe and asked them to share their stories.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 14 Jun 2010
  • min read
PRS for Music has  called for a national Busking Day in recognition of the importance of busking in many new performers’ careers.

Many of today’s most popular entertainers have busked including Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Gerry Rafferty and Rod Stewart.

PRS for Music is also calling for every town and city to have a designated ‘Busking Site’ where performers can safely entertain the public. Research undertaken by PRS for Music also showed that the UK public would support the concept with a third of the adult population thinking that a day dedicated to busking would be a good idea.

M magazine caught up with a few of our members up and down the country who started out busking on the streets of the UK and Europe and asked them to share their stories.

Angie Palmer, Manchester
Originally from Manchester, Angie left home for Europe aged 17 with only her guitar and a rucksack. For the next seven years she made a living busking on the Paris metro, café terraces, around markets and cinema queues. Supported by other musicians, Angie to write her own material which she performed at free festivals.

Angie is now touring and writing her sixth album of own songs. She has an agent, a PR and a deal with Proper Records and has had plays on BBC radio.

Angie said of her busking years: 'The wonderful thing about busking for a living is that it is a direct experience of an audience and a pure unmediated expression of playing music'. www.angiepalmer.co.uk

Becki Driscoll: North Devon
Becki started busking at 16 years old and soon discovered that she could spend two hours on a Saturday busking in her home town and earn more than working for eight hours in the local supermarket. Becki took her fiddle and go to Spain and France in the holidays, earning money as she went along.

Travelling through Portugal and Spain with her partner, they developed their repertoire, trying their music out on people in the streets and gaining their feedback.

Since arriving home, they have been playing professionally and run workshops. www.englishdiffle.com

Cecily Pearce: Bristol
Miss Cecily, aka Cecily Pearce, is the lead singer and song writer of the Bristol based band Miss Cecily and the Gentlemen of the Road.

Cecily has performed in rainy city streets and sunny Spanish plazas as well as at UK festivals such as Glastonbury, Secret Garden and Rocket in Spain. She has recently released an album of her songs called The World's Still Big Enough.

The singer has this to say about busking: 'It can be intimidating, it can be occasionally depressing and it’s definitely more fun and less scary with a partner in crime. However, mostly once you get going it’s a great way to develop your musicianship, your performance skills and the thickness of your skin!'

This summer Cecily will play on the Sensation Seekers Stage at Glastonbury Festival everyday of the festival at 9pm. www.misscecily.co.uk

Colin Hartley: Cheltenham
Colin has busked across an extensive area, including the London Underground, more than 20 UK towns and cities, parts of Italy, Spain and France.

Colin still plays live music in pubs, clubs and promotes live music and teaches music to the younger generation.

Speaking of his busking days, Colin said: ‘It's about improving performance skills, repertoire and stage-confidence. I don't really get stage fright anymore...ever’

Colin's tip for buskers: 'Always carry spare strings, plectrums, water and pliers.' www.myspace.com/colinhartley

Read more about PRS for Music's busking members.