Slow Burb, Coburg, Days 1 & 2 by Lily Lucent

Lily, my host in the Coburg suburb of Melbourne, very kindly wrote a guest post for our two days joint busking in the small pedestrian street/square off of Sydney Road. The only addenda I can add are that while she was away during the first pitch I sang almost all originals (swapping to guitar) and that I received quite a few tips in that time from the sparse crowd, one man said “I was really happy to have some music to listen to while I had some lunch.” It felt remarkably refreshing to play violin on the street in an instance where I didn’t feel bad for the… self-centered-ness of playing it. As I may have mentioned before, I chose to play guitar and sing as I feel it’s a more honest relationship with the passersby. One is tipped for talent more than assumption (ooh a classical instrument!) and one engages directly with the audience with tunes they like, eye contact, the ability to talk. These pitches with Lily I was able to play facing her, my eyes on her juggling just as the audiences’ eyes were, playing to suit what she was doing – ball high, violin high. Dancing about, low G work slow into higher positions. Subtle floating, major soaring tunes, etc. The first day I played more in minor keys with occasionally forays into the corresponding majors and the second I played mostly in major. Cuz it felt right.

Oh, last thing before I leave you to her words: I think 99% of tippers and passersby took me to be female. Two, for instance, said “Thanks girls!”

    As a couch surfing host, strangers often arrive at my house and leave as friends. Terrence was no exception. He bounced into my house one day, full of ideas and sounds and words. He immediately set about playing all the instruments in my house, and re-stringing my violin so that he could play that, too.

    Terrence and I quickly got around to talking about busking. He’s a musical busker and I’m a contact juggling (circus) busker. The first thing that struck me was how Terrence didn’t seem to know/follow any of the rules I’d been taught about busking. For him, it was all about enjoying himself and sounding good, which was a rather refreshing outlook on it.

    Terrence and I busked in my local suburb, he with the violin and me with my contact ball. It was Easter Sunday and all but one of the local cafes was closed, and there were about six people in the entire square. The first thing I noticed was how much having music caused people to look. The second thing I noticed was how spellbound the people were. We busked together for a short time and almost everyone in the square donated to our hat.

    I left Terrence to play on his own for a short time and this is when my adventure started. A middle-eastern man caught up to me and asked me to entertain a group of about 50 kids next door for 10 minutes. I went in and it was CHAOS. He left me at the door with his wife, no one knew who I was and the kids didn’t seem to have any direction or particular activity happening.

    After standing around awkwardly for a minute or two, before realising that no one was taking charge of this situation, I rounded up the kids (at this point I was *very* glad I’ve taught a lot of circus in primary schools) and tried to figure out how I could keep their attention with only a couple of tricks for ten entire minutes.

    The ‘show’ went well. I started out with a couple of tiny tricks to get their attention, before moving on to some funny tricks that children like, then using audience participation to build up to the big tricks. Then, while they were all mesmerised, I let them line up to touch the ball. Overall, it went surprisingly well and the kids seemed to really enjoy it. I then got paid $20 for my troubles and went back to Terrence with a surprised look on my face.

    We went home a short time later, rather pleased with ourselves. I went out that night, so he gave my instruments some more loving.

    The next day, we went back to the same place. This time, there were about three times as many people (18?), and I was quite excited. However, after half an hour, we had made about $4.00 and we agreed that it wasn’t the day for it and went home again. On the way home, we found the strangest chair I have ever seen. It has a low seat and a high back, like a throne, but is made of copper and pleather and has a strange head-board thing that hits your head if you try to sit in it. The chair now sits in my front hallway with a sign on it saying ‘Throne of Madness’ and sometimes serves as extra space to dry clothes on.

    The next day, it was time for Terrence to move on to his next host. However he left his toothbrush, toothpaste and floss as a memento of his stay 🙂

Earnings Day 1: 16.10 AUD, 1.1 hours
Earnings Day 2: $2.30, 30 minutes
Song of the Days: Gm improv 😛

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