Articles, Blog

Exploring Texas as a Street Performer (Busker)

September 1, 2019


About to head out for Texas. I’ve never
been to Texas before I wanted to go see how the people would treat me and how
I’d like the cities because life is short and I just want to get to know if my
music might resonate with other cities and other places. Or if I’ll fall in love
with the city and be like “I never want to leave this place”. So first stop
today is Lubbock and I don’t think I’m gonna busk in Lubbock but I’m gonna try
to busk in as many places I can. I couldn’t schedule any gigs because I
didn’t want to plan anything or make anything definitive, I wanted to be
flexible. It’s like a five-hour drive from Albuquerque New Mexico and then
we’re gonna try to keep it cheap by camping I got this app
on my phone allstays.com it has like all the campsites and BLM land and stuff and we
got an inflatable bed. We’re gonna sleep in the back of my truck if we need to
but I bought a tent and I got a bunch of trashy food but it should be
alright, I had some bagels. It’s the same old tune, fiddle and guitar, where do we take it from here? We are passing Littlefield Texas. Littlefield is where Waylon Jennings grew up Waylon Jennings is my spirit animal alright, made it to Lubbock
last night, I met a lady there who was really nice to us. she had a “look at
faces” tattoo I think her name was like feather, her kid’s name was wolf, one of her kids name, so that was really cool we’re gonna head up to Abilene today, I heard
that Abilene is a really good college music town and so I’ll probably won’t
busk there. We’ll just check it out and then head up to Dallas and do some
actual busking there and find another campground when I first met you, you seemed like a nice girl, you had a scarf wrapped around your neck and you smiled when you saw me didn’t have too much happen except for
some young girls walking around being like “play your guitar” “where’s all the
dark-skinned guys at” that’s what they told me twice, they walked by three times.
I almost got a parking ticket but we were fortunate we made it just in time
that would have probably I don’t think it would have been justified but I had a
good time I’m not sure if that type of environment is my kind of busking
environment so we’re gonna try a farmers market this morning in McKinney Texas. I
couldn’t find any camping last night so we were all bougie and stayed at an Airbnb but we’re very clean and it’s nice. the pepper tree but he didn’t see the
pickup truck he only saw that girl in the bucket seat so he found a plot of land, five acres by
the creek built that house with his own hand he’d paint the walls, pour concrete
got a dog from the neighbor farm, she wriggled on the floor,
got a cat when it stumbled in and knocked on our back door But these folks they won’t last forever I think about it often. Just got to Denton Texas Just hanging around in Denton and it’s a
really cool little music town college town it’s known for music although some
guys I was talking to said they used to be a lot more popular in terms of live
music happening and busking like in the eighties and nineties and then all those guys left. But it was really good I got some people to look at me and
talk to me and I made $8 and 11 cents plus a free beer and the free beer kind
of meant a lot to me because it’s always fun. You always worry about
the business establishments caring about whether you’re busking next to
them or not and I didn’t ask I just set up and go because it’s easier to ask for
forgiveness than ask for permission but I think the establishment gave me the
free beer so that’s always nice, feels good and Denton was cool. We did McKinney Texas before this and McKinney
it was nice too there was some guy came up to me and he was like there’s a song
that you can play that everybody loves it’s a hit at the farmers market, and I
was like yeah he’s like yeah play it and everybody will love it. I was like yeah
which song he’s like yeah everybody loves it it’s like what song he’s like Homegrown Tomatoes by Guy Clark. I know Homegrown
Tomatoes of course it would go over well at the farmers market that makes sense
we’re leaving the Sam Houston National Forest. We found a campsite just before dark now we’re heading down to Houston to see the Space Center where they went to the
moon and try to find some busking over there. There was a bunch of daddy
longlegs at the campsite. There was a battle between the cockroach and the
daddy long leg over macaroni they just stared each other down. The
inflatable bed almost last the whole night lasting longer tonight than it ever has
before getting better and better at blowing it
up every morning but it’s still started to fall apart at the end,
still touching the ground by the end of the night. We’re just leaving Houston
and we loved Houston. A lot of people told me Dallas is better than Houston but I don’t believe them,
I actually like it I think Dallas is kind of too fancy. Busking is difficult in Houston, and I knew that coming in. So what happened was, I wanted to stop at a McDonald’s and check out where where we should go on our way
to the Space Center but the McDonald’s was closed and this is the second time now that Mcdonald’s has disappointed me because i stopped at another one for
a chocolate shake and they were out of chocolate and when we were going to the
space thing i saw signs for downtown and we’re like let’s just go downtown let’s
check it out so we did and we loved it we walked around we had a great
breakfast i had huevos rancheros, the sauce she was very critical
about what the sauce is because it wasn’t gonna be New Mexico green chili.
three chilly “what do you think they put on there” “that’s against the law, you gotta have a license”. Basically there is this square pool I wanted to go to for busking because I saw a video on youtube of this
guy who went there to do Frozen So I was like “alright that’s where you go busking in Houston”, so we went there and it was a really nice park and I did
just five songs. We found a campsite at South Padre Island last night it was
really nice we swam in the water by the bay it was really great and then 5:30 in
the morning right now it started thundering all around and then it
started raining and the tent started flapping around
so we packed up everything super quickly we have the tent in the back just squished
together to fit in the back of my truck so that we could jam out of here and go
try to find some coffee somewhere alright got some new shades, we’re leaving
the San Antonio Riverwalk I had a really good busking experience there. It started
with some guy coming up and talked to me about his relationship problems so that
was great because music brings people together, you invite yourself open to that I gave away a lot of download cards I got
to count up the cash and see how much although the parking cost 20 bucks so if I were
to live here I’d have to figure out how to manage the parking situation
if I was gonna try to make that busking at the river park work but I got some
good smiles some people stopped for my funky patriotism song I got some people
in cowboy hats tipped their cowboy hats to me, some people recorded videos on their phones, and I got a bunch of mosquito bites this is
the struggle of camping last night in South Padre Island, we
got attacked. I’ve been thinking a lot about the music culture up in Austin and bands who came from there Robert Earl Keen is an awesome guy David Ramirez is this guy I’ve seen, Bob
Schneider. So I’m really curious if we can get a taste of the music culture. We’ll probably do some country dancing as well just the standard stuff. Try to see some local awesome musicians welcome to Texas capital of the United States. I’m gonna get New Pants, I’m gonna learn how to dance. I’m gonna get new pants What’s the matter? What’s the matter? give me raw human emotion give me something I can feel give me a bottle I can lean on, give me discount liquor cigarettes and beer. Just got done walking around 6th Street with my guitar playing some songs
that’s just what I felt like doing I didn’t really feel like sitting down and
properly busking with an amp and my guitar case out for free download cards and cash tips it just felt it was more fun to just walk around and like play guitar
really loud and kind of expressive and look at people and look at the things
look into each of the venues and if the venue’s called to me I would stop walking and take a look inside and stuff but what’s funny about that is if you do that is
people can’t tell if you’re like crazy or not so they don’t really want to look
at you in the eye but then you demonstrate that you’re not crazy by
following proper social norms by walking appropriately down the
sidewalk and not paying super close attention to people and giving them
their psychological space and stuff so I found that to be fascinating. There was a
bunch of homeless people that were hanging out under the bridge and I just
wanted to walk by and play and see I almost wanted to stay and play
for a little bit longer but, I thought that was cool, and one guy asked me what my guitar was and stuff like that. I was thinking
of “keep Austin weird” which i think is a slogan that they have and I actually
felt it when I was walking on 6th Street at 10 p.m. playing guitar like that
because it didn’t feel really weird I just felt like I was another
person out there and it felt felt like it was kind of normal and it was
actually really empowering and really cool that that you can do
something like that and so I think that’s what I would do like if I lived
in Austin I’d love to just stroll down 6th Street like once a week
and just be weird like that playing
guitar doing something unconventional like walking by another busker and while
they’re playing just nodding them and just be playing our completely
separate songs and things like that you You could walk by a venue because there’s a bunch of people who work at the venues who
just stand outside and try to get people to come in. If they like you you could
just stand out a little bit longer finish your song and then
eventually they might as well just invite you to pop in. There were
a couple venues where I could probably just go inside and play music and it would be a lot more fun I think. So that’s
another thing to think about. People who are at a higher level with their
music can totally do things like that just literally convince the
people to give them a gig in that type of setting and you keep doing shit like
that, keep walking down the street and showing them your music if they don’t have any music going on inside and everybody else does and you’re just
walking around playing, that’s compelling that they could bring you in.
Austin was a really great experience. I can see that it is the
music capital of the United States probably but it was really interesting
to see to see how it worked in there you know we went to the
Continental twice because they had really interesting music both times in
South Congress area and it was really interesting the first band that we saw
she was kind of disconnected from the crowd and they didn’t seem to have a
lot of fun and the crowd themselves was a little bit of the Friday night
crowd, the TV crowd. They’re out just to socialize and do
something and they’re not necessarily out to see the band. The woman and the band that was playing, they play there every week
and this is something that I’ve seen a lot of times is that when a band plays
the same gig repeatedly I literally just watch, it’s like every time I see them I
watch their excitement and their happiness decline and that’s the difficult life of being a musician in Austin, is it you might be
playing the same gig to the same sort of crowd that just wants that Austin
experience every time. And we saw one of my big influences at the Continental
James McMurtry and he had a midnight gig, but the crowd was talking during some of his stuff which was distracting
to me and kind of weird but I really appreciated how he didn’t bring it
up because the worst thing you could do is create a negative energy and
get angry at the crowd and call it out and stuff like that, this makes it
awkward and I it’s in the back of my mind I’m always like gosh I
hope they don’t do that I hope make it awkward, so you gotta play through you gotta have a good time through that and it was
really weird kind of weird to see James McMurtry having to do that. There was a
moment where what he did though is he stopped playing guitar and he just sang
and I felt like that was really an interesting thing for him to do to really change the focus up there and almost exaggerate the
awkwardness or exaggerate the sort of little social anxiety. When you
experience a city you don’t want to think about how the music that you
see is going to be in that city you want to think about how they will treat you
as a musician that’s what I think about as a musician entering a city and I can
see that it would be a difficult time in Austin. It would be tough. I played music on the street in South Congress and I got a
dollar tip and you know it’s just saturated and people are looking for
excitement and when I went to sixth Street
to busk and play live music I didn’t even want to sit down and throw down my guitar case for tips because I knew I wouldn’t get any and people just over look you, they would just walk by without looking at you which is why I
just wanted to walk the streets and I wanted to do something different by going and walking past the homeless people playing and you know I was
standing there at the stoplight right by the homeless people and this
cop car was pulled up right there and the cops were looking at me, I thought it
was just fun and exciting to just be this curiosity, “what’s
this person doing”, why are they doing it right here so I just want to keep
exploring and keep checking out cities thanks for checking out this
little video if you know of any busking opportunities in any other cities let me
know if you know any other cities we should have checked out here in Texas
let me know in the comments you can hit the subscribe button hit the
like button that helps me out and I’m gonna keep keep trying to explore and
share music with people and things like that so thank you

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