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  1. #1

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    I've been thinking about it not so much for the money but just to get out there and play with this band I've been asked to join. Their in it for the money. Is busking something any of you have considered, whether just for the money or just to advertise your skills. Is it a respectable venture? Or is it something only unemployed or underemployed musicians do?

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  3. #2

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    There are some hilarious examples of world class concert violinists being ignored as buskers, so I'm not sure your audience will necessarily appreciate your effort.

    On the other hand, no less than Madeleine Peyroux, who is an astonishingly talented musician, gave up recording for three years, to go back to busking on the streets of Paris.

  4. #3

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    Just be aware of the laws where you go. Cities are desperate for money and fining street performers for not having permits. One popular place around where I lived required you to make a reservation for get a time and spot.


    Back when I lived in Boston there was some really good street music. In Cambridge some stores would leave an extension chord outside their door so bands could play after the store closed.

  5. #4

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  6. #5

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    I do it. Not for the money, not for the recognition, not for the chicks-heh heh. I do it to give people something to smile about if the presence of live music makes their commute or walk a little nicer. And so music can be a larger part of my life. I don't think of it as "performance" per say but something in recognition that music gets better the more you do it.
    I actually prefer the spontaneity of it to playing in front of a paying audience sitting in chairs. That's just me but I find it a real joyous experience if you don't expect anything beyond honest connection.
    David

  7. #6

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    Ive done it. Its fun.

    On a good day, I'd make enough to get dinner, pick up a sixer, and take the train home.

    Chicago has street performer permits now

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    On a good day, I'd make enough to get dinner, pick up a sixer, and take the train home.
    There are singers I knew, really appealing presence and great "can't tear myself away" voices, who made about a hundred bucks an hour. Right spot, right time, right act. In a busy city with a good transportation system, you can go underground and your audience changes every 5 minutes. You can even get away with a small repertoire! If you've got something very distinctive (amazing tapping technique, good singer, bass line and solo line thing that makes people notice), they'll drop a dollar, or 5... Every 5 minutes, you'll see how it can work.
    One guy I knew played baroque lute with period appropriate costume. He made a good full time living playing that music.
    It's a thing unto itself. Its own rules, its own rewards. Nothing like they'd ever teach you in music school. But neither would be playing every night on the 52nd street bridge for no money and no audience...
    David

  9. #8

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    Hello.
    I busked quite a bit back in the 1970s.
    It was fun and we made a fair bit of cash.




    Music is the key that can open strange rooms in the house of memory.
    Llewelyn Wyn Griffith

  10. #9

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    I love to see people busking. Adds such character to the street, subway, etc.

  11. #10

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    I do it all the time just for the love of playing not money. Especially in parks and beaches.

    if I were to do it for money, I would wear a suit. That really stands out.

    PS the Yamaha battery powered 5A amp is fantastic for such occasions

    PPS playing with a nice archtop gets more people noticing than what they are usually used to
    Last edited by NSJ; 07-24-2014 at 11:12 AM.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz
    There are singers I knew, really appealing presence and great "can't tear myself away" voices, who made about a hundred bucks an hour. Right spot, right time, right act. In a busy city with a good transportation system, you can go underground and your audience changes every 5 minutes. You can even get away with a small repertoire! If you've got something very distinctive (amazing tapping technique, good singer, bass line and solo line thing that makes people notice), they'll drop a dollar, or 5... Every 5 minutes, you'll see how it can work.
    One guy I knew played baroque lute with period appropriate costume. He made a good full time living playing that music.
    It's a thing unto itself. Its own rules, its own rewards. Nothing like they'd ever teach you in music school. But neither would be playing every night on the 52nd street bridge for no money and no audience...
    David
    Stanley Jordan got quite an audience in Manhattan busking. Also developed quite a following which helped him get a deal with a pretty good label. I also remember back when I was commuting by subway to and from a job in Midtown Manhattan, there was a tenor sax player that walked from car to car. He'd blow a tune in one car in between stops, then after the tune he'd make a collection right before the stop . . then move on to the next car and do the same. The guy was great! People took the train just to hear him blow and would sometines follow him from car to car. Then, the Port Authority cracked down on walking from subway car to subway car due to the idiot kids that were climbing up onto the roofs of the cars and subway surfing.

    Mr. B. . . I do remember some great street musicians performing right outside the Artist's Cafe on South Michigan Ave. Fun stuff!! Do they still do that?
    Last edited by Patrick2; 07-24-2014 at 12:53 PM.

  13. #12

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    I've done a lot of busking in my day. It's really fun! Definitely beats running through your repertoire alone in your room.

    No downside that I can see.

    When I lived in Toronto there was an obviously professional classical guitarist who would busk outside the hall before every Toronto Symphony Orchestra concert with a paper bag over his head. I guess he didn't want to sully his reputation, or something. Always made me laugh, and he was incredible.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    When I lived in Toronto there was an obviously professional classical guitarist who would busk outside the hall before every Toronto Symphony Orchestra concert with a paper bag over his head. Always made me laugh, and he was incredible.
    That was Andres Bagovia. Yeah that was the shape of his real head. He put the bag over so he could show off that he wasn't reading music.
    David

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz
    That was Andres Bagovia. Yeah that was the shape of his real head. He put the bag over so he could show off that he wasn't reading music.
    David
    ...not sure if serious... Hilarious nonetheless!

  16. #15

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    I love busking and I love buskers! Havent done it for a long time but hey it's part of the tradition, isn't it? I'm sure it's more regulated than it used to be bit I always thought it was fun. Can go a long way toward shaking any stage fright or learning to interact with a crowd. It's boot camp for gigs, lol

  17. #16

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    Of the 6 or 7 times I've attempted to busk in public just for the fun of of playing, I've been informed by police to leave or risk arrest. Random locations around New England. Mostly it was a complaint by a local small merchant that was afraid the 25 cents someone might throw my way was not going to make it into their cash register. I've learned not to waste my time.

  18. #17

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    It's the washtub bass, CG. Makes ya look like a hooligan.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    It's the washtub bass
    heh

    i saw a great quartet busking a couple years ago-- young woman killing it on a washtub bass. one snare drum, a guitarist, and a really good trumpet player. prolly kids from the local jazz program.

  20. #19

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    When I lived in New Orleans, I saw / heard a lot of this. It's part of the culture. I haven't been there since hurricane Katrina, so I don't know how it is now. (I suppose like many things, it swings a bit far in one direction then back in the other.)

    Here in South Florida where I live, I don't see / hear any of it.

  21. #20

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    I love the surprise of hearing a super talented street performer.

    I often hear not so talented young buskers near my work playing guitars that are horribly out of tune. I sometimes tell them I play and ask if I can strum a few chords just so I can tune their instrument.

    I once saw a homeless looking guy busking in Pasadena, CA with a really sweet high end Taylor flat top. I guessed he might have acquired it by nefarious means and didn't realize its worth. I put a dollar in his case and said, "I'll give you $100 and a decent Yamaha guitar for that one". He looked at me and said, "Dude, I'm a dentist. I just dress this way because I get better tips".

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    When I lived in New Orleans, I saw / heard a lot of this. It's part of the culture. I haven't been there since hurricane Katrina, so I don't know how it is now. (I suppose like many things, it swings a bit far in one direction then back in the other.)

    Here in South Florida where I live, I don't see / hear any of it.
    Still common in NOLA, the Quarter, Frenchmen St., sometimes St. Charles/ Garden District, also Magazine St. on a sunny day. The locals resent the "tourist buskers", though some of them are very good players. Haven't done that since the 70s. I see them and stop and listen when I can on the way to the gigs.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperFour00
    Still common in NOLA, the Quarter, Frenchmen St., sometimes St. Charles/ Garden District, also Magazine St. on a sunny day.
    Saw buskers on the lower end of Canal outside of a few restaurants. They're everywhere in NOLA, esp. in the Quarter and touristy areas, at night.

    Also, in Savannah, GA on River and Bay Streets.

    Often cities in the southeast, like Charlotte, NC who are trying to revive their inner cities, will encourage busking.

  24. #23

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    Love that dentist story.

    The very best "spontaneous" busker type public square performances I've ever heard was in Europe, especially in Amsterdam where I happened upon the Robin Nolan Group playing really superb new Gypsy jazz in a large public square in June 1996. I even got to go with the band afterward into one of the "coffeehouses" for a small beer, if I recall. Pretty cool. Robin, who was probably in his twenties at the time, was a monster guitar player back then. Still is.

  25. #24

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    Done buskin'. Did that as a student, raising money for charity. It was OK, fun but tiring.

    When I went to Barcelona a few years ago, my family and I went to the Parc Guell (the Gaudi park) which was full of musicians. It's on top of a hill and as we got to the top, there was a guitarist with a drummer (snare/cymbal) playing punky-rockabilly stuff.

    About 250 yards away, we say a guy playing jazz standards on a Guild archtop, making loops to accompany himself, .

    Another level down and we found this lot, playing reggae:-



    And as we reached the main plaza, there were two guys with amplified nylon-strings, playing gypsy jazz and Spanish stuff.

    Could have stayed there all day, eating ice cream, sipping cold beer and soaking up the sun and the sounds......

  26. #25

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    Never done it. I was speaking to Henry Threadgill once, and regarding busking, he said:

    "I don't care who you are, if you're out on the street busking, you might as well just be begging for money".

    I see where he's coming from... Personally, I have standards for playing. It either has to be artistically fulfilling (playing with some killing guys), or has to pay well. I'd do the busking thing if I got either of those.

  27. #26

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    I don't know who your friend Henry Threadgil is. So, in the interest of not being disrespectful to him or to you . . I'll just say that his statement as quoted above is just plain stupid.

    Busking is nothing more than an artist attempting to sell his or her works. It's a different method then having a contract to work for a predetermined amount of money. But, it's an artist or artists attempting to sell their works. There's nothing even remotely similar to begging about it. Their "working" for their money. They're just leaving it up to the audience as to whether or not their "work" is worth paying for.

    It really pisses me off to hear these sanctimonious comments and beliefs from those who would like to dictate onto others, a behavior or professional conduct they believe in.

  28. #27

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    Used to enjoy the buskers in St Augustine. Merchants started complaining and, for a short while, put an end to it. I still can't understand why they would complain. It drew some nice crowds. Buskers attracted Now it is allowed in the "old village" section but not on the main streets. Frankly, there are some buskers out there putting out a better product than what I am hearing on the radio these days.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2
    I don't know who your friend Henry Threadgil is. So, in the interest of not being disrespectful to him or to you . . I'll just say that his statement as quoted above is just plain stupid.

    Busking is nothing more than an artist attempting to sell his or her works. It's a different method then having a contract to work for a predetermined amount of money. But, it's an artist or artists attempting to sell their works. There's nothing even remotely similar to begging about it. Their "working" for their money. They're just leaving it up to the audience as to whether or not their "work" is worth paying for.

    It really pisses me off to hear these sanctimonious comments and beliefs from those who would like to dictate onto others, a behavior or professional conduct they believe in.
    Henry is one of the most important living figures in our music. Associated with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Henry Threadgill - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Regardless, while I don't necessarily agree with the quote, I do see both perspectives. In one hand, yes, you are working for your money by performing. However, it depends on what you think of your own art. Is it something you want to make into a novelty item that you probably won't enjoy doing? Henry probably thinks the opposite of that. His music is not accessible to a busking audience. However, the respect towards his music doesn't get corrupted, and he writes what he enjoys.
    I live in NYC, and every time I take the subway, I see some busker doing some really bad act. It's very few times, maybe once a month, I see a group that I stop for a few minutes before walking away.

    Again, I would do it, if I were to enjoy my company of musicians, or if it paid well.

  30. #29

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    Threadgill is an amazing musician. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Due to professional stature and ability and what he or she has contributed to an art as an artist, some may be more entitled to their opinions than others.
    Last edited by henryrobinett; 09-18-2014 at 09:37 PM.

  31. #30

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    Though I've never busked, myself, I really enjoy the atmosphere created by buskers. They can help to bring a city alive in the nighttime.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by jtizzle
    Henry is one of the most important living figures in our music. Associated with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Henry Threadgill - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Regardless, while I don't necessarily agree with the quote, I do see both perspectives. In one hand, yes, you are working for your money by performing. However, it depends on what you think of your own art. Is it something you want to make into a novelty item that you probably won't enjoy doing? Henry probably thinks the opposite of that. His music is not accessible to a busking audience. However, the respect towards his music doesn't get corrupted, and he writes what he enjoys.
    I live in NYC, and every time I take the subway, I see some busker doing some really bad act. It's very few times, maybe once a month, I see a group that I stop for a few minutes before walking away.

    Again, I would do it, if I were to enjoy my company of musicians, or if it paid well.
    Well, Henry may be a musical God . . both in his own mind and in the mind of others. But, he needs to take himself back to when and where he was a nothing and a nobody. . . . before he casts such aspersions on those below him, who might be struggling to get recognized . . and struggling to make enough money to buy a bag of rice for dinner. Or, even struggling to have their works heard by others. Some musicians just want their playing to be heard by others and can't secure a venue to be heard. Others are hoping a producer will walk by and hear them.

    I remember seeing Stanley Jordan on a street corner in Manhattan with a guitar, a battery Pig Nose . . and an opened attache case for donations. He wasn't begging. He was cooking!! I was standing no more than 10 feet away from him . . just blown away by what he was doing. I dropped money in his attache case without hesitation. Guess what. He ain't buskin' no more!!!!

    Sorry, but I do not see both perspectives. Henry's comment was totally out of line.

  33. #32

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    I don't see how you are taking the little comment paraphrased so seriously. Or am I miss big something else? Where he said it was like begging? I don't necessarily agree but I can certainly see his point. Sitting on a street corner playing with a hat for people to give you money. I can see his point. Actually that's why I'd never do it. But I have seen some amazing musicians busking. Mostly I have seen some very mediocre ones though.

  34. #33

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  35. #34

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    I've only done it a couple of times, but I think it's a great way to learn to connect with an audience, and it can be a lot of fun.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett
    I don't see how you are taking the little comment paraphrased so seriously. Or am I miss big something else? Where he said it was like begging? I don't necessarily agree but I can certainly see his point. Sitting on a street corner playing with a hat for people to give you money. I can see his point. Actually that's why I'd never do it. But I have seen some amazing musicians busking. Mostly I have seen some very mediocre ones though.
    Henry . . once again, your failure to attach your reply to a specific comment makes it impossible to know which post you are replying to. If it's to the OP . . then, I'll not clarify my possition onthe matter. However, if yours is a reply to my post . . please let me know and I'll be happy to give you my thoughts on why I take it so seriously.

    But honestly . . just hitting the "Reply With Quote" button before you enter your text, is equally as easy as typing your text into a "Quick Reply" box.

  37. #36

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    Never done it but I'm all for it. Seems like it can be fun and it's good experience.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    LOL

    I have never done it, but wouldn't dismiss the idea in the right circumstances.

  39. #38

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    Just do it man. I have never done it but it is on my list once I have a solo repertoire. Personally I love a good busker. Some of my most memorable travelling moments buskers in Florence and New York. Here in Melbourne there is some talent that play in the little cafe lanes, the icing on the cake for a nice sunny lunch.

  40. #39

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    "I don't care who you are, if you're out on the street busking, you might as well just be begging for money".

    Equating other musicians with beggars because they're below his pay grade is demeaning and insulting. I know folks who busk to eat and work hard for what they get. He may be a respected musician, but he lost something along the way.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2
    Henry . . once again, your failure to attach your reply to a specific comment makes it impossible to know which post you are replying to. If it's to the OP . . then, I'll not clarify my possition onthe matter. However, if yours is a reply to my post . . please let me know and I'll be happy to give you my thoughts on why I take it so seriously.

    But honestly . . just hitting the "Reply With Quote" button before you enter your text, is equally as easy as typing your text into a "Quick Reply" box.
    I don't need to follow your rules on forum posting etiquette. 99% of the time if I don't quote it's because I'm referencing the lost directly above OR it's not specifically about a post but the subject in general. In thus case u was referencing your post DIRECTLY above the post in question. If that's too hard to understand just ignore my posts. But I'm not going to quote every frigging thing.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett
    I don't need to follow your rules on forum posting etiquette. 99% of the time if I don't quote it's because I'm referencing the lost directly above OR it's not specifically about a post but the subject in general. In thus case u was referencing your post DIRECTLY above the post in question. If that's too hard to understand just ignore my posts. But I'm not going to quote every frigging thing.
    Rule?? When did I ever reference my comment or suggestion to you as a rule? It was a polite suggestion, nothing more nothing less. Your post immediately followed mine . . and it started with the sentence . . "I don't see how you are taking the little commnet paraphrased so seriously"

    How do I know for sure whether or not you're reply to me? It's not a rule that I was referencing. Just a suggestion of identifying who you're replying to. That seems to be lost on you. Maybe I should have just continued to wonder just who the heck you replied to? It's not a rule, man. It's just a matter of common sense and courtesy. Get over yourself man.

    This is my last dust up with you. I'm done with being tolerant of your snideness. Have a nice life.
    Last edited by Patrick2; 09-23-2014 at 10:06 AM.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2
    Have a nice life.
    Damn Patrick, is it so bad? Why do people on the internet fight over such nonsense. I get that you don't agree with Henry, but let's try not to fight. I'm pretty sure you responded the way you did because of henry's use of the word "friggin". You took it as him being pissed off at you. If I were you I would not responded the way you did. I would've asked him to clarify his use of the word "friggin", not add fuel to the fire.

    Anyway, the issue is so silly that I am not going to waste anymore of my time on it.
    Last edited by smokinguit; 09-23-2014 at 02:50 PM.

  44. #43

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    I know he was a bit sensitive, dogmatic, and combative, but no wonder Jack Zucker is not around here anymore. The tone can become a bit personal, which is never a good thing, even here in internet land.
    Last edited by smokinguit; 09-23-2014 at 02:35 PM.

  45. #44

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    smokinguit; Let's just say there's a bit of a history you're unaware of. But, that notwithstanding . . you say "I know he was a bit sensitive, dogmatic and combative . . . " yet, you consider my response telling him that I'm done with him to be harsh? Hmmm . . . I don't get that.?.? Did you not see the comment "I don't need to follow your rules on forum posting etiquette" . . as being worthy of a response from me? Did you even see the post I posted the reply to? I perceived that comment . . actually, it's more of a remark than it is a comment . . . as being unnecessarily snide. Further, what's harsh about "have a nice life"? It's simply an old addage telling someone you're done putting up with them.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2
    smokinguit; Let's just say there's a bit of a history you're unaware of. But, that notwithstanding . . you say "I know he was a bit sensitive, dogmatic and combative . . . " yet, you consider my response telling him that I'm done with him to be harsh?
    You misread the above quote. It's about Jack Zucker, not Henry. Come to think of it after rereading you and Henry's post, I find that both could've been worded in a nicer way.
    Last edited by smokinguit; 09-23-2014 at 04:53 PM.

  47. #46

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    I would like to know how Patrick contributes to the forum other than picking up fights and finding trivial quotes from the internet. Well, not an important matter. In martial arts we always bow to each other, maybe that should be made possible here for increased respect and awareness of each other's beings.

    Busking is music, music is good. Sometimes even Bach doesn't survive on the street, so handle with care. I think one should put an honour in trying to raise the bar of what gets played out there. Some of it is really good. Mostly just rather pleasant, nothing special, and rarely really terrible ☺ I work out, music can't get much worse than there ��

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by yaclaus
    I would like to know how Patrick contributes to the forum other than picking up fights and finding trivial quotes from the internet. Well, not an important matter. In martial arts we always bow to each other, maybe that should be made possible here for increased respect and awareness of each other's beings.

    Busking is music, music is good. Sometimes even Bach doesn't survive on the street, so handle with care. I think one should put an honour in trying to raise the bar of what gets played out there. Some of it is really good. Mostly just rather pleasant, nothing special, and rarely really terrible ☺ I work out, music can't get much worse than there ��
    And what exactly are your contributions to this forum? Or, should I be afraid to ask now that you mentioned you're in martial arts.

    So they taught you how to bow before an opponent. Great. Now maybe you should learn how to mind your own business, grasshopper.

  49. #48

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    If an artist is selling paintings on the street, is that like busking?

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by smokinguit
    Damn Patrick, is it so bad? Why do people on the internet fight over such nonsense. I get that you don't agree with Henry, but let's try not to fight. I'm pretty sure you responded the way you did because of henry's use of the word "friggin". You took it as him being pissed off at you. If I were you I would not responded the way you did. I would've asked him to clarify his use of the word "friggin", not add fuel to the fire.

    Anyway, the issue is so silly that I am not going to waste anymore of my time on it.
    If I misread the quote, it was only because it was worded ambiguously. I see that you have since edited and reworded it. But, apologies none the less. No, use of the word friggin' really didn't piss me off. It was the snide reference that I was trying to dictate rules to Henry that I took issue with . . . and I thought my wording in the post where I asked for clarification was not anything that Henry sould have taken issue with. But, as I said, there's a bit of a history there and it's not worth any further interaction of Henry and I posting or replying to each other. That's why I use the saying have a nice life. It wasn't meant as an insult to Henry.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    If an artist is selling paintings on the street, is that like busking?
    In my opinion, no it's not. Because the artist selling paintings would be referencing a selling price for you to take it home with you, even though you could look at it there on the street for free. A busking musician is playing music with no expectation of payment, hoping that the listening audience will offer a money . . the amount being at their discretion, as a token of appreciation for their performance. I think that's why some (IMO incorrectly) see it as begging.