Busking in San Francisco
Those who have followed our blog over the past year, and there are a fair few, we thank you from the bottom of our music drenched souls. And as a loyal reader, you know that we are fans, ardent supporters, advocates and true lovers of busking, street performance and all things indie. And nowhere does this scene exist more prominently, or is it infused with such an indescribable energy than on the streets of New York City. However, I don’t live in New York anymore. I live in San Francisco, a smaller, mellower, more laid back version of the Big Apple. There are many things I will miss about New York, but the street scene in San Francisco is, in a word: off the hook! I plan on bringing them to you in these pages. It is my hope that you enjoy meeting them, as much as I do; and that it serves to remind us that we are all in this together, that the transcendental power of music, of performance, of art helps us remember that we are all interconnected.
San Francisco is an immaculate city, progressive, brimming with life and character and living under an umbrella of much more agreeable weather. It’s a great place. But what about the busking scene here? Well, it does exist, and if you are one of the frugal minded, discerning ear sorts, you can enjoy some of the best music in the city, under a canopy of mostly blue skies, at many BART stations. Not all BART stations, but many of them. I haven’t yet figured out why some stations have really great players and some stations have no players, and still others seemed plagued with God-awful, talent-less hacks. Still, you can grab a slice of San Francisco life for mere pocket change, above and below BART stops, simply by stopping and dropping a buck in the proverbial hat.
It needs to be said again: In a time when many cannot or choose not to work, street performers are not in that category. TIP your buskers! If you dig what you hear or see; dig a little deeper and drop them a buck, for the song, the experience, the story, the photo, the YouTube video; because after all, this small barter of daily experience is a currency,which is not exchangeable for articles of consumption.
I recently read in the San Francisco Weekly, the results of the Best Of Awards. I didn’t submit many myself, because I am new to the city; but, they have a great section about buskers. From “Moses Dixon, the 62-year-old vibraphone player to Cindy Lapper, a transgender Casio wiz who can knock out a mean synth boogie to Chen Kai Chou, a 71-year-old, half-blind player of the ban-hu (a bowed, one-string instrument that kind of sounds like a violin) and Eddie Floyd, a guitar-toting tenor who specializes in “travelin’ songs about hard drinkin’ and wild gals from coast to coast“, I can’t wait to meet them all and bring them to you. So, the time has come to grab my bloggie, grab some dollar bills and grab that experience that I will carry with me long after the rise and fall of the iPod.