Camden New Journal: Buskers Lose High Court Battle

Camden New Journal: Buskers Lose High Court Battle

Published by Camden New Journal by Pavan Amara on 11th MArch 2014

See the article on Camden New Journal here.

BUSKERS in Camden Town have lost their High Court battle against Camden Council’s new licensing policy for street performers, but vowed this afternoon (Tuesday) that they “will not stop here”.

The musicians are fighting new rules which demand they all have licences, bans amplified music and sets a 9pm curfew for performances.

Instruments can be confiscated under the new rules which the Town Hall says it introduced to protect residents from disturbance.

These rules were challenged by a two-day judicial review earlier this month, but a High Court ruling released today by Mrs Justice Patterson at the Royal Courts of Justice said Camden did not need to tear up its plans.

Jonny Walker, from the Keep Streets Live campaign group, said the High Court judge had taken the council’s argument at “face value”.

He said: “We profoundly disagree with her judgement and will now seek to have this case heard by the Court of Appeal and to ask Camden not to enforce their policy until the case is heard by a higher court. Under Camden’s policy even singing a protest song without a licence could be a criminal offence. In a democratic society, singing a song in the street should never be a potential criminal offence.”

He added that buskers had the option of going to the House of Lords and then to Strasbourg to fight their case.

The full 26-page judgement was published today, and stated that the policy “would be in pursuit of a legitimate aim”.

Mrs Justice Patterson noted that the scheme “is excessive because it applies across the borough, applies to many activities which could reasonably be exempt, and applies a sweeping judgement against certain forms of street entertainment”.

But she added that “large varieties of busking are untouched, there is no restriction on the content of any busking and the fees for a standard licence are low”.

Cllr Maryam Eslamdoust, who is the council’s chairwoman of licensing, said she was pleased with the result.

She added: “The court has affirmed that regulation is not prohibition and we look forward to a responsible busking scene living alongside our residents.”

This post was written by
Singer-Songwriter/Professional Street Performer/Campaigner/Wandering Minstrel

3 Comments on "Camden New Journal: Buskers Lose High Court Battle"

  • The buzz this weekend, Dolly Parton is headlining Glastonbury so it came as no surprise today my first time Street Performing in Birmingham on a Sat this year that the city centre seemed awash with Black Country Rednecks singing Country music. Again no great surprise here, Dudley has long been a stronghold of the BNP, and a burdgeoning fortress these days of course of UKIP, and we all know of course that the 2 cultures one musical, one political often quite ‘tragically’ go together.

    So I begin the day a ‘busking’ fish out of water in my own city. It does’nt take long however for me and one of these country rednecks to cross paths musically that is, ‘ whats that that you’re playing mate? etc ‘. We swap some musical interests and inevitably he insists on showing me one of the songs hes just written.

    It came of no surprise his ‘new’ piece that is, a predictably rather bland country melody accompanied by the usual 3 chord trick in Gmajor or was it Dmajor?, I forget!. Straightaway I got into a discussion on how to add color to a melody, on writing hooks etc, you know the art of ‘pop’ melody writing. I then took his existing melody and showed him how the simple 3 chords he was using with a little jiggery pokery, simply re-harmonisation, basic substition could be transformed into an accompaniment travelling all around the neck that would put a Californian Session musican/ On the Road sideman to shame. We then discussed fingerstyle technique with me insisting that he stop consulting Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan et al for his chops and started listening to some good folk music, English, Celtic not Donavan etc but Jansch, Carthy and Renbourn and then later perhaps Californian Singer Songwriter folk like Joni Mitchell etc. His lyrics were the typically banal, superficial observations of life you’d expect from a Black Country Redneck so I suggested he broad his experience ‘vicariously’ by reading some of the great books Ovid, Shakepeare, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Proust, Woolf etc so as to gain intellectual confidence and transient life awareness putting him the right state to then shape his own life experiences and tease out the authentic ‘insights’ that would genuinely interest and entertain his listeners. I also suggested he took full stock of English Grammar and the fundamentals of Rhetoric moving towards some mastery of the English Language. Finally I stated that I was’nt going to write the songs for him, insisting that he just took stock of what I’d just said and he’d be surprise what would happen in only a few months or so. I did mention that it took me 9 months to master the guitar fretboard to the extent that I can on the spot harmonise any simple melody in 5 areas of the neck in all 12 keys, that I can move through all the keys easily, tracing out all the main chord progressions eg cycles, scalar and 3 chord trick. This can be done within a week or so if you have the time and apply yourself. I then got into a discussion of my own arrangements and most recent project an up and coming European Cafe Art CD featuring Guitars yes but also Accordian and Strings. This led to a brief chat on ensemble arranging as well as strings ( my latest compositional study which I’m now just about beginning to apply along with more ‘classical’ style ‘theme’ and development rather than straight ‘tune’ writing ). I explained how music is basically a complex relationship of ‘tensions’ and ‘resolutions’ and then demonstrated with a brief ear training lesson.

    Why am I telling you all this?. Well in line with the article headline above I think we are all losers, as musicians that is, and we all have been, ever since ‘acoustic’ pop has tended to dominate the scene on the streets and the art of accompaniment on the guitar, you know all that ( for a real musician! ) infuriating incessant strumming!

    Anyone can knock out ideas on the guitar but well constructed, tasteful, artful, heartfelt, musically memorable tunes consistently well thats something else that really is an art to be worked at and it does’nt come simply, you’ve got to be able to come up with a 100 tunes in a day to be able to then edit out the 99 and end up with that one gem, thats what it really takes to be a fine Songwriter.
    I’d like to think my friend from the Black country went away no longer a country redneck but a man with the soul, imagination and well worked intellegence of the next Bert Jansch, I don’t know?.
    In the meantime roll on Dolly Parton, Sunday, the Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury 11pm BBC2.

  • Just been watching some Glastonbury footage of what used to be the ‘Greenfield’ ( memories, oh distant memories! ) passed onto me by some ole friends who managed to penetrate the exterior security perimeter line last night and gain entry to the site.

    Watching the jugglers, fireeaters, acrobats, festival folk ringed around festive fires, the tribal giant iconic totemic spider reminds me of the importance of being able to draw upon an element of the ‘circus’ when performing out there on the streets. It can work, definitley another string to ones bow, to pull out quickly if and when the crowds begin to gather.

    Tried out my 190BPM version of the Flight of the Bumble Bee yeserday in Birmingham, been working on the technique for months ( tell a lie actually it only took me a week or so to stimulate the muscle fibre ‘naturally’ already there within the body to attain such a feat ! ) and I tell you what it worked a treat, made a typical quarter of a days pay in 15mins!. My string-tapping arrangement of Handels Bouree strangely flopped, folk appeared to get a little bored after a while the novel spectacle quickly wearing off. Oh well back to the music, enjoyed my little circus interlude though!.

  • *On the topic of victory and defeat ( in ‘life’ as much as battle! ).

    As for the most tragic troubadour I know? Well its got to be one of my all-time ex American guitar hero’s hailing from Austin, Ohio i.e. ‘acoustic’ virtuoso and guitar poet Phil Keaggy! – oh what a waste of individual greatness, from the sublime ‘high’ folk romance of ‘Wind and the Wheat’ to the mystic, Christian ridiculousness of ‘ Beyond Nature ‘. I could weep, I really could!.

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