We went to Bath on Saturday for a mooch around. It’s not an original thing to say but it really is a beautiful city. We go there fairly regularly, although would go much more frequently if it wasn’t for the scandalously huge Severn Bridge toll. Here’s a top tip for you. If you want to make an obscene amount of money, beyond what anyone could hope to gain, let alone spend in a lifetime then try building some infrastructure for the British government. Hospitals, schools, bridges, nuclear power stations, basically anything that the chancellor doesn’t want to put on the books to make his figures look bad. Offer to build it for him at hugeley inflated prices. You can make hundreds of millions of pounds if not billions off the British public and government will welcome you with open arms (and wallets).
Anyway, where was I? Oh Yes: Bath. Beloved of all the tourists, part of its charm is all the street entertainers. They tend to have a fairly high class of busker there. Opera singers, string quartets, etc…. Saturday we saw a violinist called Joel Grainger who used a loop pedal to build up a backing track for himself. Below is a video of him in Winchester playing a version of Pachelbel’s Canon. We got to hear him play this on Saturday, as well as a Coldplay inspired track.
Further down the high street was an amazing guitarist who sat down and started playing Romance de Amor. If you don’t know the name, you will definitely have heard the piece. I have no idea who the man was because he wasn’t also trying to flog a CD, however I was reminded of a feature that the BBC Culture Show used to run. They would send famous musicians out to busk on the streets to see how much money they could make. Sometimes they would have sneakily let their fans know and would have a huge crowd, but others would have played by the rules and be completely unrecognized. There are so many fantastic musicians out there that it is easy to see how people can walk past soem famous performer, mistaking them for ‘any old busker’. A similar thing happened in 2007 when the famous American violinist and conductor Joshua Bell performed in a Washington metro station. A few nights before he had played to a sellout concert where tickets cost $100. Here for free nobody really batted an eyelid, 7 people bothered to stop in the 45 minutes he was playing, and even then only for a minute or so.
So who knows perhaps the Bath guitarist was someone famous, perhaps I missed a John Williams performance…
How about you? Do you stop to watch street musicians?