What is a busker?

According to Busker Central, a busker and street performer reference site and a non-profit co-operative promoting busking around the globe…

Howlin' Hobbit, c.1991

Howlin' Hobbit, c.1991, at Pike Place Market

busker \BUS-kur\, noun: A person who performs an art in public places for donations of money.

They are also referred to as street performers, traveling musicians, street entertainers, circle acts, street musicians, street theater, sidewalk, subway, and street-corner performers, minstrels, troubadours, and bards.

Buskers are that rare breed of street entertainers in search of the best place or “pitch” to perform their artistic endeavor. Buskers can be dancers, mimes, artists, clowns, magicians, musicians, puppeteers, jugglers, acrobats, tumblers, story-tellers, and living statues. They can be sword swallowers, balloonists, fortune tellers, contortionists, escape artists, rope walkers, fire eaters, and more. They can even be just plain weird.

That about covers it!

Do note that the Americanism “street performer” is somewhat misleading. You can busk indoors just as well as out.

I’ve been busking since about late 1983 or early 1984. (The years blur that far back in history!) I’ve hit several of the acts mentioned above, having performed magic & juggling act, twisting balloon animals, playing guitar, harmonica, washboard and finally, my favorite and current love, ukulele. Click the picture above for a larger view and dig that crazy chair pack!

(P.S. Just because I busk a lot does not mean I’m averse to other gigs. You can Hire Howlin’ Hobbit!)