Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

January 20, 2014

Buskman's Holiday

Over the years I've amassed a nice stash of Via Rail gift cards, courtesy my beloved brother and sister-in-law. They know I love to travel, but for a variety of reasons I've grown weary of venturing to nearby small towns and wandering. It's lately felt more like a brood-fest than a day trip. This Christmas when the latest installment arrived, though, I had a brainstorm: what if some summer Sunday I brought my guitar along, staked out a good spot on Main Street, Smalltown Ontario, and busked?

Though I've performed hundreds of times, solo and with bands, I've yet to try busking. I figure a small town might be a good, low-pressure locale in which to get started. I have at least a few months to prepare repertoire, figure out where I'll go and check local bylaws to ensure my free-spirited warbling doesn't net me a fine or citation. Both Via and GO (our intercity bus/rail provider) accept guitars as carry-on baggage, so it's logistically possible on public transport.

I've already begun scoping out locales and have narrowed it to 30 cities and towns, all within three hours or so of Toronto. The funny thing: I don't even know if I'll like busking. Guess I'll find out. It's occurred to me too that I ought to bring some recognizable covers into the mix, as my tastes tend toward the obscure. ("Exactly What We Don't Want to Hear" by Game Theory, anyone?) My wading through the Billboard charts of yesteryear is ongoing.

Locally, I've discovered that street performers in Toronto need a licence and I'm considering applying for one. There are a few bureaucratic hoops to navigate, but it looks doable and not terribly expensive ($41 a year).

Anyway, the adventure starts in May and I plan to write about what happens here, so stay tuned. All aboard for the Buskman's Holiday!

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