I love street musicians – the good, the bad, and the really terrible (see my post on Mexico City). They can be diverse, passionate, indifferent, virtuoso, amateur, and deeply weird. Here are some of the delights I’ve encountered in the last few months. The featured image above, Bass Bear, was playing outside the São Bento railway station in Porto, Portugal. He (she?) was absolutely bringing the funk to the delight of spectators and dancing children. She (he?) has become my spirit animal and a symbol of my attitude toward travel – bring the funk with a smile.
I always try to engage with musicians on the street – by tipping and by making eye contact. I want their tacit permission to photograph before afterwards explicitly asking if it was ok. If they say no, I delete the photo. The picture above from Toronto was on a pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market, one of the most interesting neighbourhoods in town. Dixieland jazz was on offer, and they were terrific. You’ll often see professionals playing in Kensington, both randomly and during festivals.
Boston Common is a great place to see interesting performers. I don’t know if this guy is a pro, but his Beatles renditions were certainly interesting and passionately played. I’m guessing he has great abs from dancing with that rig on his back. (iPhone photo as I didn’t have my good camera along).
Part mod, part Monty Python, this Manchester group is easily the grooviest I have ever seen.
Music and traditional dance come together in this picture from Porto. (more Porto buskers including the famous organ grinder in my blog post on Portugal). These athletic performers are from a local arts academy, and this is how they earn drinking money.
Still in Porto (so many great buskers!) on the Rua de Santa Catarina you’ll find everything from classical guitar to acapella groups. This father/son duo were just killing it with a combination of traditional Portuguese and Roma melodies. Whenever you see a child performer, it’s natural to worry about exploitation. But the way this young man was dancing around, smiling and teasing passers-by, it was at least clear he was having a good time.
For every great busker, you’ll find some whose passion exceeds their talent. I love the look of this pair, especially the smoking guitarist. But this guy was so off-key that I’m pretty sure that they are often tipped to leave.
I have a lot more photos in my other posts. And I’ll update this one as I encounter more great performers in my travels.