Taking it to the Streets

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 14 Jun 2010
  • min read
Jo Maultby - Dirty Scavenger: Brighton
Jo is 26, and has been busking for 11 years, starting when she was only 15 years old. In Guildford, Surrey

Jo concedes that she was very nervous the first time she busked, as she had little experience she sang by a main road, which drowned out the sound of her music.

At a young age Jo would usually make £20, and sometimes £40 an hour by busking and once made £84 in an hour and a half one Christmas.

Jo said: 'As I quickly learned, that the best way to earn money whilst busking, is to make eye contact with, and smile at every single person that walks past.' www.facebook.com/dirtyscavenger

Ewan McVicar: Linlithgow & Glasgow
Ewan first busked in the 1970s. He co-founded the Glasgow Folk Club in 1959 and he wrote the 1960 Top 20 hit Talking Army Blues for Josh Macrae. Ewan has written 20 songs for the Singing Kettle. In 1990 Ewan was asked to be a judge for a busking competition when Glasgow was the European Capital of Culture.

An experienced busker, Colin says: ‘It takes a lot of bravery or cheek to busk solo. You earn most money performing well-known music - if you can stand the boredom of singing the same biggest hits all the time you'll do well. If you are more musically challenging you'll earn less but enjoy yourself more.’ www.myspace.com/ewanmcvicar

Paul Diprose: Havant, Hampshire

Paul went busking around Europe in the 1980’s with a couple of friends where he had plenty of adventures including playing in the bar of a brothel in Athens and sleeping on the roof.

Paul once wrote a song, Mein Handy, about Stephen Fry and the song was played on Express FM. Since then, Paul has regularly been on Express FM and enjoyed plenty of local radio play. Paul says that his favourite song is ‘ usually the most recently written one, and I can get strangers to tell me how good or bad it is before the finished article.’

Philip G Martin: Canterbury - Kent
Philip Martin is a hurdy gurdy busker who also goes under the alias Drohne. He started busking in London in 1967 to get enough cash to gain admission to London's psychedelic venues.

In 2008 Philip released his fifth album Le son du Bois which received airplay on BBC Radio 3, 6 Music and various others worldwide.

Talking about busking and his membership of PRS for Music, Philip said: ‘I have, I suspect, spent the last 32 years of my PRS for Music membership pretty close to the bottom of the earners list. However, it does give a more reliable income stream of busking’. www.drohne.co.uk

Jamie West: London
Hailing from Tooting, Jamie is the winner of Young Busker of the Year award. Jamie’s prize was a license to busk on the underground for a year.

Jamie’s busking success has landed him media appearances in the Evening Standard, the Metro, South London Press and on Smooth Radio, BBC London and GMTV.

Of his first attempts at busking, Jamie said; ‘My voice was shattered and my fingers hurt. But then my body started to adapt and I realised it was a great opportunity to strengthen my performing muscles.’ www.jamiewestband.com