As Martha & The Vandellas almost sang: summer’s here and the time is right for busking in the street. Today is the beginning of a series of live music events that’ll bring music (sweet music) to London’s public places all summer.
Backed by London’s new mayor Sadiq Khan and some famous musical names including Billy Bragg, Fatboy Slim and Corinne Bailey Rae, the Busk in London scheme aims to make life easier for London’s often beleaguered buskers. The main event takes place on International Busking Day, on July 23, when London will take first place among 50 British cities (and many more worldwide) celebrating busking and street arts.
Speaking about the launch, Sadiq Khan said: ‘There are few places on earth that can rival our city for its arts and culture and I’m enormously proud that London will host the first ever International Busking Day. It’s vital that we back our street performers – every day they add colour and life to our streets, entertaining Londoners and the millions of people who visit from all over the world each year.’
That weekend, the city hosts the Busk in London festival, showcasing music that ranges from classic rock to beatboxing, alongside many other kinds of street performance. It also marks the return of the Gigs busking competition, which runs until September 4 and brings live music to streets, squares and parks around town before a grand final at Westfield Stratford City.
The build-up to Busk in London kicks off today as Alex James Ellison, a winner of last year’s Gigs competition, travels to Paris to rep London’s busking culture. Eurostar passengers and unsuspecting Parisians will all get an earful over the course of his one-day hit-and-run tour of the French capital. If you’re a young musician (aged 11-25) and fancy walking in Ellison’s footsteps, you can sign up now for Gigs 2016. If not, stay tuned for a Gigs busker coming to a street near you this summer… and keep an eye out for Boris Johnson dancing in the street.
Remember that time Nile Rodgers busked on the South Bank?