I can’t believe I’m leaving Seattle tomorrow!
Today was an okay day. I’m becoming more and more dependent on coffee again, and today I was just feeling really low energy which is not a good way to busk. Fortunately I still did well monetarily, and I still had an okay time so that’s good news. I had a little bit of a shorter fuse than usual but kept it bottled up, which is the healthy way, right?
I received a pear from the lovely fruit boys again, and a super tasty smoothie from Isaiah, the one who left me the poem. The other buskers and I are getting along well, and it seems like we’re all tired today for some reason. One of the other buskers has a sign to himself that says “Be NICE to the tourists.”
I only played for about an hour and a half because I was so exhausted and my voice isn’t sounding very good, so that’s that.
Gross earnings for the day: $97.25
Gross earnings so far: $1862.57 (28 days)
Gross earnings for yesterday: $79.80
Gross earnings so far as of yesterday: $1662.52 (26 days)
Today was a great day! I played in two spots straight through from 2 PM to 4 PM. At first I played in front of the first Starbucks, a spot which has its ups and down. It is really loud and crowded, and people often times don’t seem to realize that it is polite to lower your voice slightly when passing a busker, especially because tourists seem inclined to impersonate car dealership commercials at all times. It drove me a little nuts from time to time. On the other hand, there are tons of people around so that’s always good for busking.
It was an enjoyable day, albeit somewhat uneventful. Oftentimes, uneventful days are a good thing because events can be harassment, rude people, etc.
Gross earnings for the day: $102.50
Gross earnings so far: $1765.32 (27 days)
It’s starting to feel really good here, and I don’t know if I’m ready to leave! The Green Tortoise is another truly magical place, and its location right next to the market makes it extremely convenient. I’m considering spending more time there next summer.
The market is a much more fun place to play than other parts of the city, and the buskers seem to be nicer to me than they are to each other, for the most part. Yesterday I played in the back alley for an hour, and then the space in front of the cute fruit boys for another hour. At the end of my second set, I met a very sweet man named Isaiah who bought me a juice and wheatgrass shots for my friend and me. He then left me this note at the hostel (I scratched his number out):
Anyhow, Emory, the man whose picture is in my very first post on this blog, showed up at the hostel last night and hung out for awhile. My Chinese roommates call me “Sexy girl.” It’s weird.
The amount of solid information I learn from being around tons of foreigners every day is fascinating!
Today I will be playing in front of the first Starbucks at 2 o clock so check me out!
He is my friend’s next-door neighbor. He told me everything there is to know about the leather lifestyle and showed us his lair, uniforms and flogs and whips and all! Here is my friend sitting in his sling: (that sounds dirty, and it is!)
Notice the towel that says, “Sex Towel.”
Today I started off at the mall on 5th and Pine, and wasn’t digging it. There are always a million of those clipboard people who make you feel horrible for not donating to save the children and even though they’re nice to me, they still try to pressure me into donating and I can’t donate to all of them, you know? And then I feel guilty forever.
But I ended up moving to the market, and by a fluke ended up meeting one of the people that monitors the buskers. He gave me a freebie and said I could play all day today as long as I go and get a permit tomorrow! So it was a great day and I did fairly well once I left the mall. You are only allowed to play at one spot for an hour, but I’m realizing that I will do well enough in the market that it’s worth the $30 that it will cost for the permit. Plus, it’s way more fun to play down there. I should have gotten a permit when I first got here, but hey, lesson learned!
Anyway, I earned a four-leaf clover and met a wonderful busker named Randy who is really the cutest person ever, and I REALLY hope the weather holds up…
Gross earnings for the day: $63.72
Gross earnings so far: $1536.12 (24 days)
Finally, a self-affirming day. I haven’t been feeling so good about busking for the past little bit, and the problem with making too little money is that it starts becoming more about money than you want it to be. It makes it a lot harder to boost your attitude, and the irony of it is that you make more money when you have a positive attitude, and when you make more money it’s easier to have a positive attitude. Sometimes you have to fake it till you make it. However, today was lovely! I don’t even know where to start…and I don’t know which is my favorite drag queen to show you guys. I think I will choose this one:
After Pride I set up nearby, but found that it was a little too crazy there, so I moved down to Pike and 1st and played for about 2 hours. This ended up being a great success! It was a lovely day filled with taking pictures with people and making little children smile (and, more often, little children making me smile). I keep telling people to send me the pictures they take so I can put them on my blog, but they hardly ever do! Maybe this time around.
Anyhow, I think this day will keep me going for a little while. One of the best feelings is waving to little kids and seeing their excitement when they grin back at you and jump up and down and look at their parents to make sure they saw. You forget that you are playing for money and start playing just for them. I love being able to show little girls that this is a business for us too. Here are a few other buskers of the day:
Good times, Seattle.
Gross earnings for the day: $73.75
Gross earnings so far: $1472.40 (23 days)
A very tall, quite old African-American man asked anyone who would listen, but it was in a sardonic manner. He then proceeded to wish everyone a good day. ”Everyone have a great day on first street! Have a good day, a good day on first street, on first street!” These sorts of odd city idiosyncrasies have ceased to surprise me. Life is weird, man!
Today I actually succeeded in busking in the market, but with marginal monetary gain. It was quite rainy and unpleasant, and my voice is still straining. I did receive an apple from the fruit vendors down the street, all of whom were very dashing young men. I also had someone offer to buy me a beer, but alas, I am underage. In the end I played for about an hour and a half and then called it a day.
But it was still better than yesterday, which was not a good day. It was sunny and everything, and I played for about as long as I did today (maybe half an hour less; it’s hard to keep track of time), but I only made like 6 bucks! What is this, some kind of conspiracy?? But after feeling like dookie for some time, I got to hang out with this little lady:
And felt a lot better.
It was such a bad day yesterday until then though! One problem with traveling alone is that despite meeting many people, you are cut off from your main support system. The people that you are closest with are elsewhere. This is not always so difficult, and it is a great learning experience, but at times it makes you feel like a free radical. Being a free radical is great, especially for someone with my personality, but at times you want to feel a little more grounded.
Today was great though. I went to a wonderful little coffee shop called Moore Coffee and was served this lovely thing:
Thank you Seattle! Sorry I was mad at you yesterday. Weird memories attached to this place, you know?
Gross earnings today (and yesterday): $40.80
Gross earnings so far: $1373.29 (21 days)
My name is Leah, and I am a street performer.
I also just quoted Marcel the shell, sue me.
Last summer, I started busking in Seattle, Washington, just outside of Pike Place Market. I was staying with my then-boyfriend in the very center of Seattle, and I got bored one day and decided to try it. I wandered down to the market and talked to some of the street performers. Here’s one:
He told me that you have to have a permit to play in Pike’s Place, so the best place to play if you’re not a native is right outside of the market in front of Starbucks. So there I went.
I’ve been playing guitar about four or five years, and I’ve been taking voice lessons for a few years now, so I can play by ear. My problem is lyrics, so at that time when I was quite unexperienced with street performing, I was only able to play about ten songs (and not particularly well). I would recommend against going out and playing without some thought put into it: know at least ten songs (by now I know forty or fifty), and put a sticky note with the songs, their keys and the fret on which you put the capo.
However, I am quite unique in the busking world because I am both very experienced musically (for my age, anyhow), and a young woman. The latter is the important part. In my travels to Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, and in my return to my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, I only saw or met one other female street performer, and she was not playing an instrument while she sang. Here’s another street performer my age playing in Santa Monica:
His name is Segun. He was definitely the youngest one I saw. So I’m young, and I’m a woman. I have the advantage of being unique and having a niche of my own, but I have the disadvantage of danger and the fear of having no one else out there like me.
Anyhow, in Seattle I was marginally successful, but it was so much fun. Part of the reason I didn’t make a ton of money is because I spent a large amount of time just talking to passersby. One young photographer, Vince, spent a while watching me, and then took some photographs of me. Here’s one:
I have many stories from Seattle but I am going to keep them to myself, because this blog is for new stories.
When I got back to Charlotte I was less optimistic about busking. Charlotte is a banking city. But I decided to give it a try. On my first day I made friends with a food vendor on the corner of Trade and Tryon (facing the Bank of America building) and he informed me that the best times to come were during lunch hour, 11:30 to 1:30. So I began. On Mondays there’s a preacher with a sound permit who takes up that corner, but all the rest of the days of week are fair game. There’s a fruit market on Tuesdays and Fridays (they don’t like me because my hour-long set is too repetitive for them…as in, they hear each song twice. Most buskers only know 10 or 15 songs) so those are the days I get paid the most, especially Fridays.
Everyone, let me introduce to you: Fridays. Friday is pay day! Friday is the last day of the week! Everyone wants to give you money on a Friday!
Anyway, Saturdays are okay too because there are people walking around leisurely and will stop to give you a listen; whereas on the weekdays, everyone just wants to get to lunch.
Anyhow, here is me on Trade and Tryon. Must’ve been a tiresome day because I’m leaning. Could be the colonoscopy I had a few days earlier…notice the hospital band.
Here’s one with a friend:
in front of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Not as successful there, but someone took my usual spot that day. I am also being featured in Busk, a documentary about buskers in Charlotte.
When I finally returned to Chapel Hill for school, I was not prepared to stop busking. I am a vocal performance major and most of the time I have to devote to music is devoted to classical music. Chapel Hill is also not the best place for street performing. I met one busker, Blake, who plays the hang drum quite well. Otherwise, there are a few pretty good bands that come out and play. The solo street performing is lackluster.
Anyway, so I’ve done this a number of times. But this time around, I’m gonna do it big. This is going to be my job. I’m going to turn into a street rat, and that’s fine with me.