Video; Allen Fredricks, San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf.

His sound is genuine Yacht Rock in this video  Real polished and everything. But his background is as deep as the mighty blue Pacific.

He has performed with some of the best musicians in the business including Paul Butterfield, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitte, Elvin Bishop,
Dan Hicks, Zigaboo Modeliste (The Mete
rs), Jules Broussard, Cab Calloway, The
Shirelles, and The Drifters.

If song doesn’t make you want to have fish and chips at the wharf then I don’t know what will. video by Iru Streetiam Iru Streetiam·

Street Culture Struggle in New York

Today The Villager (read article here) reported on the meeting that was held in New York on the new park rules governing street culture and in particular performing.

The City of New York like so many government entities when faced with a situation where their lazy one size inclinations are wholly inadequate to handle the situation with alacrity choose ambiguity which allows any bureaucrat for any reason (political or otherwise), to interpret the law as they see fit, taking self governance out of the hands of the people.

When it comes to a subject like street culture, it should be obvious that the rules for one park, ie Washington Square Park, may need to be different from the rules for another park. By the same token, the rules for one neighborhood, ie Times Square may need to be different from other areas. In fact one part of a neighborhood may need a rule for one block that is different from the rule two blocks away. For instance in an area that has a thriving nightlife in one spot and down the street it is primarily residential, noise must be a consideration. You won’t mind noise late at night in one place but want it over by 8pm in the other.

Washington Square Park is a prime case in point when it comes to parks. Since it is known the world over as a place to see performers and art, it is wholly in keeping with the tradition of the place to have a major presence of creativity. Other parks perhaps not so much. Also, the ambiguity of the present arrangement further creates the danger of constituting a real threat on the rights of free speech. For instance will one busker singing songs in a totally accomplished manner with words like, Bloomberg is a control freak and his policies are weak, get escorted out of the park while a busker singing New York New York out of tune at the top of their lungs gets a pass? It’s hard to tell whether it would happen at all and hard to prove it was political if it did happen but it would be considered a possible motive and puts into question the intent of the entire law.

Perhaps community groups that surround the parks need to get together and meet and draw up recommendations for their park to submit to the City Council. The same for neighborhoods in general as well.One thing is for sure, free creative expression is the bulwark of a free people and street culture is where the rubber meets the road.

Shamisen Street Music in Tokyo

Inokashira park, Kichijoji which is on the west side of Tokyo is the location of this street performance by some again unknown talented musicians playing the Shamisen.

The shamisen is an instrument from the 1500’s and is based on a Chinese stringed instrument of the same period known as a sanxian. The shamisen is made of wood and has a skin like a banjo made of dog, cat or recently of plastic.

 video by Rohan Gillett Rohan Gillett

To Amp or Not To Amp

That is the question for cities all around the world as street performing and regulating street culture finds its way on the government issues list. Even as the public’s view of street performing has been evolving from public nuisance to public asset the excessive noise in areas of heavy busking continues to draw criticism. Amplification is the biggest target and has been banned only with a great deal of protest from performers and also some merchants and community groups.

Stephanie Pilon Stephanie Pilon video of an acoustic performer in Byward Market Ottawa Canada

In Ottawa, the Ottawa Citizen reports that the performers in the prime performance area of Byward Market are themselves divided on the point of amplification. Understandably they break down along highly predictable lines with non-amplified performers having no problem with the no amplification law and those who need amplification being understandably upset.

Sarel Alafi Sarel Alafi Street acrobats and dancers such as the troupe pictured in this video also performing at ByWard Market will be totally out of business if the anti amplification law is enforced. Do you think that the large crowd enjoying this performance are being bothered because of the amplification?

A lot of times the problem is possibly a matter of musical taste and not the actual volume of the performance. as with this amazing guitarist  featured in this video by bigsugar999 bigsugar999 If you love loud virtuoso guitar playing while you shop or dine however if you are looking to get a little peace and relaxation or are the merchant who wants to clearly hear the customer talking in the store where this musician is playing, it could be a problem.

The solution in many places cities like Copenhagen Denmark, York UK and Raleigh North Carolina among others is to find places where amplification is appropriate desired and workable. We hope Ottawa will find the compromise it needs to advance in street culture regulation.

Costume Character Creep Kops Cash

Giving a bad reputation to the costumed characters that actually do care that the tourists on Hollywood Blvd have a good time this guy, (we assume it is a guy) dressed as spiderman steals from a 90 year old Starline tours guy the amount of $6000.

Some of the characters that work out there all the time are actively looking for the phony spidy, not wanting to have any more aspersions cast on the activity of costume character posing. Although some performers have been known to have fist fights with one another over sidewalk turf, no robberies of this kind have happened since 2009.

2 article on the incident are in The Los Angeles Times and Mail Online

New York, Nice or Nightmare for Buskers?

One size fits all solution probably another bad idea.

This article inspired by a post on Buzzkers

If you are a musician who needs to use amplification for your performance on the streets of New York it will cost you $45. Also you can only use the permit in 100 defined spots. If you use amplification anywhere else you will be fined.

If you want to play in the park, amp or not, it will cost you $45. If you want to play in the subway you need another permit. It is hard to imagine in a city like New York that there are only 100 spaces suitable for amplification and quality performance but apparently that is the view of the Nanny Government there and 2000 buskers are going to have to figure out how to make a living while complying.

One size fits all is always the problem with government involvement in individual and community enterprise. Street Culture is perhaps the most glaring example. While it might be better for some areas to charge more for a permit in order to ensure a better quality performance, (ie great performers will get better tips), however it only inhibits the free expression of art when the price of expression is punitive or space is drastically limited.

Under the terms of the new law there is only a fee to perform in certain areas so performers just starting out will still have space available for free to perfect their craft. However if they are an acrobat, a juggler, a beat boxer or other performer who needs amplification to stage a decent performance this will be a repressive ordinance at best and a new talent culture killer for local New Yorker’s at worst.

Lets talk about noise for a second. In some areas you do not want amplification after a certain hour but 1 block away you may want it till late in the evening. Under this law if the bureaucrats have not deemed it appropriate to perform with amplification you cannot. This law then seems to disregard the obvious need for amplification for beginners or those who in an effort to share space with other amplified performers cannot fit into one of these 100 precious spaces. For this reason alone the law needs to change.

Communities need organizations for street culture that apply to their specific needs and reject these blanket laws that empower the lazy administration of an indifferent ruling class and not the citizens and artist entrepreneurs.

Charging to sell CD’s or DVD’s for performers is just plain greedy and repressive but don’t tell that to the bureaucrats. It certainly does not cost the city any more to regulate CD sales during a performance but greed knows no propriety.

Since there are only 100 permit spaces available in what must be the prime spots in Manhattan  it is logical to assume that the performers will need to organize themselves just to keep from getting into fist fights over prime real estate. They may want to consider organizing themselves and their communities to force the City of New York to adopt more community culture friendly laws. No government can administrate well if communities do not tell them what they want. The NYC government site for the rules for buskers is located here


More trouble in London

Even though the Mayor of London seems to be all about celebrating street music and street performance in the Columbia Road Flower Market District there are complaints of noise and buskers are being fined if someone complains.

As we reported on Camden in yesterdays article while the natural urge to embrace street performers is strong in England the sorting out of the particulars are often an impediment to the natural inclination to creativity.

This article in the Stage News tells of the struggle to resolve the busking dilemma in East London.


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In the busiest marketplace for shopping and entertainment in Kuala Lumpur they welcome street performers and musicians dancers and even a little be t of amplifications from time to time.

Busking at Bukit Bintang


BE on the look out for three local musicians who will be busking in KL’s busiest and popular shopping district as part of KakiSeni’s all-arts festival happening this week.

Organised by local music show powerhouse Moonshine, musicians Reza Salleh, Froya and Asmidar will be swooning pedestrians with their indie-pop acoustic tunes

Audio meters needed in Camden

WHAT WILL MARTIN DO? Street Performance Struggle; Camden, London, UK

Martin is an endangered species in Camden these days because he and a bunch of other buskers are simply making too much noise.  I want you to listen to this performance which is as good as anything of its kind as you will see and hear on any stage or experience through any medium. The only problem with this video is that it is too short and only a small portion of the song Martin is playing.

 GiveMondays GiveMondays shot this video and gave Martin a wonderful gift. Click this to see their YouTube channel

Will Martins presence on Camden end as suddenly as this video? Well if these folks have their way and if no one has a better plan for Camden street culture, then Martin is gone and so will be an undeniably, life enhancing feature of life in Camden. Why must he leave, you ask? Street I Am asks, why not give him a place on the street where people could gather around?

It is because, (from left to right), Chief Inspector of Operations Penny Mills, Councillor Chris Naylor, Camden Town resident Judith Clute, Cllr Abdul Hai, Cllr Maryam Eslamdoust and Lazzaro Pietragnoli, think things would be better that way.You see they say Martin’s music uses amplification and they say some people around the area are complaining that this sort of thing goes on into the night, beyond all hope of reasonable tranquility and proper sleep.Their duty and solution are suddenly clear to them. The only way to ensure this supposedly highly prized form of tranquility they aspire to, is to proclaim NO AMPLIFICATION EVER! is the best for all concerned. And then make it, THE LAW!

This next video therefore should be seen as an example of the kind of busking that would be allowed under their proposed framework. Peter Lee Peter Lee

Also very pleasant to experience. Why not both at the right time in the right proportions.

If Camden is not careful they will be facing some of the same opposition that is going on in Ottawa Canada SEE OUR  ARTICLE, where chess champion and busker Daryl Bertrand would rather fight a similar law than go away quietly and accept the leniency of the judge who recently waved his $260 fine..He is presently preparing a case to be heard before the Ontario Superior Court.

Both Ottawa and Camden need to take it down a notch and do it more like they do down south in the USA. That is where Glen Orange, a visionary busker of Charleston North Carolina and a reasoned and relentless advocate for street culture, helped to create a law for Street Culture that serves the community interest.

Street Performers Hitting the Streets of Charleston

Or the Great resolution of a similar situation in Somerville

Somerville Says Yes to 1st Amendment where the serious concerns of Alderman-At-Large John Connolly were successfully addressed, He was reported to have said, “If the wind is blowing from the north or northwest, it comes right down the [Davis Square] busway, the music and the voice will sound like it’s in my backyard. Naturally one of the first things my neighbors will do is call me, and say, we love music, but when you can’t turn the volume down it’s a problem. In other words if someone complains of the noise of a performer and they are amplified then they will be subject to a fine. However if no one complains then there may be no fine.

Both resolutions involved similar concerns as exist in Camden.
There is no question that music and amplification can be a mess in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Camden as in other areas like it, a certain amplification at 10 or 11pm, may be desired in one spot but a nuisance one or two blocks away.
We await the developments in Camden, which as you know, is one of the more educated parts of the world.
By the way; They invented meters for these audio things you know? Get on it. We are sure you know somebody who has one.