City Manager Marc Maxwell is looking for a few good buskers.
Don’t take offense — it’s not a dirty word, and even though you may have never heard the term, it’s a safe bet you’re familiar with the concept.
Buskers, simply put, are those beloved street performers who work only for tips and spare change, whether it’s the violinist taking tips in a hat at his feet, the classic organ grinder with the trained monkey taking coins from fascinated children, the one-man band, the juggler, the mime.
OK, the mime’s a bad example of beloved. But still ...
“I’m putting out the word that I’m looking for buskers — talented buskers — to perform at Farmers’ Market,” Maxwell said. “Auditions required.”
Maxwell said he wants “to get a few names on the Rolodex,” but he’s dead serious when he talks of regular street performers at downtown events.
“We’ve got some jazz music downtown for the Farmers’ Market and other events, but it’s canned music,” Maxwell explained. “There’s no substitute for having a live musician on the street playing for tips. Whether it’s a guitarist from the high school jazz ensemble, a violinist or an accordion player, it adds a certain flair to the market that you can’t get with canned music.
“And it’s not just limited to musicians. Mimes, jugglers, if somebody’s got a genuine talent, come talk to me.”
The idea of bringing street performers to downtown had been kicking around in the back of the city manager’s head for some time, although he initially wasn’t familiar with the word “busker.”
“Last year, when we began having our concerts downtown, we were talking on a staff level about where we could find street performers to kind of round out the event,” he recalled. “I didn’t even know there was a term for it until recently when I came across an article about some city dealing with a busker ordinance in their downtown. That’s when I realized there’s a whole industry out there.”
The city of Sulphur Springs doesn’t have a specific ordinance regulating buskers, but Maxwell expects there will be one someday.
“Once the idea gets planted, we’ll get Joe Blow showing up and playing on a number 10 can,” he said. “We’ll want to have some kind of say in it. We want genuine entertainment.”
Busking might be considered the bottom of the entertainment food chain, but more than a few famous performers started out playing for tips. It’s reportedly how Jimmy Buffet got his start, for example, as did Bob Hope, George Burns, Bob Dylan, Steve Martin and many others.
But don’t expect a line item on the city budget for “busker salaries.”
“They’re playing for tips. That’s what a busker is,” he said. “Otherwise, they’re a contractor. I’m not looking for contractors.
“Just give me a call or come on by and see me. You never know what
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