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View Full Version : Tried a bit of busking in Santa Cruz



ConspiracyUkeist
06-12-2011, 10:11 AM
I was up in Santa Cruz for a few days so on the 3rd day I got the uke out and tried playing on Pacific Avenue.

I'm a real beginner so I knew I'd not sound all that great. In fact, I found that my voice would shrink like a mouse while I was trying to get the chords right - I need a LOT more practice.

I did wear a nice Aloha shirt though!

Frankly I thought I'd get a few coins just for being out there and not sounding utterly horrible like *some* buskers out there.

But I got nothing.

Frankly, as beginner as I am, I think any tips I'd have gotten would have been out of pity and I don't want those!

A very nice lady came by, who I think is a member of the Santa Cruz ukulele club or this site or both. She was wearing a sort of Hawaiian pendant, I think a sea turtle with a ukulele on it? I handed my uke right over so she could play a bit, and she played and sang with a very SWEET voice and encouraged me to keep working at it. I'd like to thank her.

A couple of other older ladies who'd wait near me while their kids went into the surfing-themed clothing store to shop, told me my uke sounded good and that was a great reward.

I actually think a lot of people could probably not HEAR me. It's loud on Pacific. A good clear singing voice, which I could not summon up, and perhaps a uke like an Ovation tenor may be the ticket for venues like that in the future.

Fortunately a lot of places I want to play don't have as much background noise and as the uke playing becomes more automatic my voice should come out of hiding.

Santa Cruz is a tough crowd anyway. I'd been away for a couple of years and there are a LOT of people with their hands out for various things. Lots of down-and-out people and while many are polite, some are pushy and it does not make for the best atmosphere. In contrast, Castro Street in Mountain View is very relaxed.

So, these were my observations.

itsme
06-12-2011, 12:29 PM
Good on you for having the cojones to go out and actually do it! :p

veejayblox
06-12-2011, 01:52 PM
I did wear a nice Aloha shirt though!

Frankly I thought I'd get a few coins just for being out there and not sounding utterly horrible like *some* buskers out there.

But I got nothing.

Frankly, as beginner as I am, I think any tips I'd have gotten would have been out of pity and I don't want those!

A very nice lady came by, who I think is a member of the Santa Cruz ukulele club or this site or both. She was wearing a sort of Hawaiian pendant, I think a sea turtle with a ukulele on it? I handed my uke right over so she could play a bit, and she played and sang with a very SWEET voice and encouraged me to keep working at it. I'd like to thank her.

A couple of other older ladies who'd wait near me while their kids went into the surfing-themed clothing store to shop, told me my uke sounded good and that was a great reward. it's people like that that make the world go round, sounds like you had fun. i guess santa cruz can run hot and cold as far as busking goes.

rem50
06-12-2011, 04:26 PM
you are very brave! I wish I had somewhere around here to try that. What a way to make money to buy more ukes! Ha!

ConspiracyUkeist
06-12-2011, 06:34 PM
I live in a smallish town, Gilroy, California, and I think it will take more guts to play around here because in Santa Cruz it's all strangers (even when you get to know people it's all street names there) where here, people all know each other.

I live on very little, less for a *year* than I used to make in *month*. But, I also have pretty low expenses, no car, grew up in the 70s so I know how to live on next to nothing. I was originally thinking busking would be a financial lifeline, but what's funny is, I'm finding plenty of work recycling metals, reselling "vintage" stuff I find, and odd jobs. As an example, on Saturday I went around to garage sales for a friend, helped him find stuff he was after, and found about $20 worth of useful stuff and stuff I can resell, and a little gold chain. The gold chain turned out to be real and I got $104 from it from the gold buyer. So I basically got my money for the week on that one day. Although, I think I'll have a few hours of work moving boxes etc. on Tuesday. Little bits of work keep coming in.

So, it looks like I will not have to rely, at least for now, on busking for money. But, I still want to get good because it's fun and because it may be a financial "lifeboat" in the future.

DAPuke
06-13-2011, 03:44 AM
You my friend are an inspiration and my personal hero. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Don

Laouik
06-13-2011, 04:10 AM
Remember - a concert is simply an organized busking event.

Keep forging ahead!

rem50
06-13-2011, 05:30 AM
That's my theory, if you don't have a job then make one! I retired from the Marines, bought a pony and started photographing kids at daycares. It's a job :)

ConspiracyUkeist
06-13-2011, 08:58 AM
That's my theory, if you don't have a job then make one! I retired from the Marines, bought a pony and started photographing kids at daycares. It's a job :)

That's pretty cool. In this Depression, you pretty much have to make a job. There's just nothing where I am, I even went to Manpower about a year ago, this big office they had was empty, one guy sitting there, I had to fill out a million papers and it took a while and all the time, no one came in - and the guy said he may have some work available .... sometime .... it's gotten worse since then of course.

There are no ukulele players within a 30-mile radius of me, so it could be that once I'm a good player I could give lessons.

rem50
06-13-2011, 09:43 AM
there is always something to do somewhere. Mow lawns, wash windows, walk dogs, even teach beginning uke lessons. Look for a need and then fill it! If you are brave enough to busk then there is no limit to what you can accomplish!

ConspiracyUkeist
06-13-2011, 11:08 AM
Oh yeah I'm finding enough to do all right. I have no shortage of work these days.

You know, this is beginning to remind of a time when I was in my 20s when I thought being a motorcycle cop would be the ultimate job. Then one day I realized that it would involve all the hassles that go with riding a motorcycle in traffic (which are numerous) combined with all the hassles involved with being a cop. All day every day. It would actually be a rather awful job!

Playing music is fun, and making money doing it could be a lot of fun too, but assuming it would be a "main gig" could make it tiring. There are frankly a lot of much easier ways to make money. I was actually sort of planning that I'd get decent-sounding and then start hitting a bunch of places where there are farmer's markets every week and basically make a main job of it. But I'm beginning to see that it's pretty hard work, which may explain why there are so few "professional" buskers around and of those who are around, often they tend to be folks who have that as their only option.

Hmmm....

OldePhart
06-13-2011, 02:09 PM
I find it cool that you've managed to find a way to live "off the radar" so to speak. I don't mean to romanticize it, I know there are a lot of downsides, too, but I think as the world continues to go to heck in a handbasket it's guys like you who will still be here when us mainstreamers have all starved to death. :)

My father was a disabled vet drawing a tiny disability pension and a tiny social security disability stipend yet he managed to live the last twenty-five years of his life (he died just before his 86th birthday) very much on his terms. He had the wanderlust and gold fever bad and spent the last twenty-five years of his life living mostly off what he made panning gold in the sierras and on artifacts he'd find in old ghost towns throughout the western US. When his vision and reflexes got so bad that he couldn't drive any more he would winter with my sister on the coast and then have her drop him off in the mountains for the summer.

When he got too sick to spend summers in the mountains he passed pretty quickly after that.

Lesson we all could probably learn from both of you if we were smart - live the life you want to live today. :)

John

Dan Uke
06-13-2011, 02:11 PM
I wonder if we would all feel the same way if it didn't involve a uke? Busking ain't easy

ConspiracyUkeist
06-13-2011, 03:04 PM
Primitive proto-plumbing and heating hot water on the stove (that has a gas leak so I only have the gas turned on at the bottle when I'm actually using it) to take a bath, lots of contact with skunks and possums, and wide temperature swings, very little room to keep things, etc make it less fun than just having an apartment but on the good side I can live on very little money so I have a lot less stress than I used to have. I actually eat a pretty good diet (and although I qualify for food stamps etc I refuse to get 'em, I want as little contact with The Beast as possible) especially with regard to fruit and veggies since we grow them. I don't have to get up at o'dark thirty in the morning, don't have to hand over most of what I make to a landlord, gas station, car ins. company, all the usual bloodsuckers. It's sure a different life, and on the whole I'd have to say a better life.

I think busking gets easier with practice. And fortunately I'm not backed up against the wall where I have to do it or "else".

cheekmeat
06-16-2011, 08:27 AM
The bandleader of one of my bands says that Count Basie said that one should "practice at the expense of your audience". Our bandleader is something of a blowhard, so Basie may not have said that. That doesn't mean it's not true!

Uncle Rod Higuchi
06-16-2011, 10:48 AM
Hey, you all have my personal permission to print out my Ukulele Boot Camp and Free Songbook and have at it!

Take them through the paces and in a few days they'll be able to do the same with their friends. Oh, wait, no,
tell them to send their friends to you and you take the new group through the same drill.

Keep uke'in',

Uncle Rod Higuchi
06-16-2011, 10:50 AM
PS do NOT charge them for the handouts (well maybe printing costs) just charge them for your "instruction".

Keep uke'in',

Canuke
06-19-2011, 10:32 AM
What songs were you playing, by the way?

ConspiracyUkeist
09-02-2011, 07:52 PM
What songs were you playing, by the way?

Oh, some BS like Sloop John B and Waltzing Mathilda and various strums.

An update is in order. I've found I can really get places with the harmonica. I've sold my uke, at a loss of course but to a really cool guy so that's great. I'm a huge and I mean hee-yuge "ear player" and it's a big help since I can't always find TABs for stuff I want to play and half the time the ones I can find are wrong.

Guess I won't be a member of the "uke family" but then, a lot of uke'ers would welcome a harp instead of another uke so it's all good.

Uncle Rod your practice sheets are good stuff. Thanks for sharing them with the world.