Don’t Banish The Buskers, Keep Streets Live in Bath

Don’t Banish The Buskers, Keep Streets Live in Bath

Please sign our petition Abbey Petition

Freedom of expression in public space is under threat, yet again. This time the it is the buskers of Bath who are on the front line.

Using a controversial law which was introduced to tackle Antisocial Behaviour and has been described as a ‘law against nearly everything’ and heavily criticised on civil liberties grounds by former senior police officers amongst many others, Bath council have proposed to make it  criminal offence to play musical instruments which incorporate any use of amplification on key busking pitches in the city including Kingston Parade, Abbey Churchyard and Abbey Green.

Any musicians who breached the proposed ‘Public Space Protection Order’ faces a criminal record and punitive fines. The millions of tourists who vist Bath each year would be deprived of one of the many popular attractions to the city, its vibrant and diverse street culture. The proposals would marginalise its street artists and musicians and devastate their livelihoods.

The Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 should not be used to stifle freedom of expression and criminalise musicians. Busking is a social activity, not an antisocial one. It is a tradition that enhances public space and deserves to be wholeheartedly supported and protected by the local authority. They already have robust powers available to tackle the inconsiderate behaviour of a small minority of performers that cause issues. Bath have opened a public consultation on whether to implement the new powers, this petition urges them to think again.

I took place in a public debate with the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods in Bath, David Dixon, and the Rector of Bath Abbey in October 2014 and argued strongly against the use of these coercive new powers in a discussion you can listen to via this link.

Bath’s buskers had made the headlines in September 2014 when the Rector of Bath Abbey, Edward Mason interrupted evensong one Sunday evening because he claimed that the noise from buskers in the Abbey churchyard, a world-renowned destination for street artists, was interfering with the service. His extraordinary, and in our view unnecessary decision to interrupt his own service created a lot of media interest and put public pressure on Bath Council to be ‘seen to do something’. However, the powers contained in the the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 were not designed to regulate busking and the government gave assurances in Parliament that the powers contained in the new Act were only aimed against the anti-social minority who give street performers a bad name; I might illustrate them as being aggressive beggars and drunken louts’. But Bath’s current proposals would affect all street musicians, not just the small minority who have caused issues. Rev Edward Mason has a strong personal preference for there to be no street music at all in the vicinity of the Abbey and has publicly called upon the council to expand the proposed restrictions to ban all music including unamplified performances and to only ‘allow’ busking on the periphery of the city, away from all the people! However the public spaces around the Abbey are in the very heart of the city and have long been a vibrant social and cultural hub where where the many hundreds of thousands of visitors to Bath each year have enjoyed high quality street music in between sampling the many other delights the city has to offer, including the beautiful Abbey. Whilst buskers should of course respect the shared use of the space by not playing excessively loud, it is not reasonable to expect busy streets bustling with tourists, visitors and residents to have the same qualities of silence and tranquility that can be found within the Abbey. Even on the days when there are no buskers, these are not quiet streets! There is a need for the buskers and the Abbey to learn to co-exist through an ongoing process of dialogue and negotiation. Seeking the use of coercive state power to impose a contentious silence upon an entire musical and artistic community is not the way to achieve this.

Many contemporary street musicians use some amplification to support outdoor musical performances. Some use quiet instruments or music technology which can’t work effectively without amplification. These include keyboards, electric violins, mandolins, guitars as well as loop pedals which are an increasingly common part of contemporary musical performances. Accomplished performances, many of which incorporate some amplification, are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Bath  each year and are an established part of the grassroots cultural life of the city. The use of amplifiers can actually allow musicians to play and sing more quietly and still be heard just above the hustle and bustle of ambient street noise. This is especially important for vocalists who can face voice damage straining to be heard over the sounds of the street.  It is not difficult to find a volume level which is not intrusive and volume levels can always be adjusted upon request. A ban on amplifiers to be consistent would logically have to extend to wind, percussion and brass instruments, all of which have the potential to be significantly louder than ‘amplified’ sound depending on the context. The issues in Bath have been caused not by amplification per se, but by excessive volume on the part of a small minority of individual performers. The local authority should target enforcement action against those performers who have caused a persistent issue with noise nuisance, whether amplified or unamplified, using their existing statutory powers such as the power to issue noise abatement notices and confiscate musical instruments under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. A blanket ban is a blunt instrument which strikes a discordant note.

The Keep Streets Live Campaign  is a not for profit organisation which exists to protect access to public space for informal offerings of art and music.  We have successfully challenged unjust and restrictive council policies towards busking in Liverpool and York where we have worked alongside the local authority and business communities in both cities to design a best practise guide for busking designed to resolve conflict and promote harmonious relationships between users of shared public spaces. We joined forces with Mark Thomas, Bill Bailey and Billy Bragg to oppose a law which criminalises street music in Camden and have campaigned against the use of the Antisocial Behaviour Act to target buskers in Canterbury where we are now working with the local authority there  to develop a new busking guide.  We are part of a mayoral taskforce in London established by Boris Johnson to make London ‘the world’s most busker friendly city’. We are urgently seeking the repeal of London’s anti-busking legislation by working with Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement Jones whose Live Music Act 2012 was a landmark victory for live music  in the UK making it much easier for grassroots venues to stage gigs.

We recognise that Bath Council face many challenges balancing the needs of different stakeholders in a shared public space. The busking community wants to work alongside the council, the Abbey and others to build positive relationships and resolve issues. Indeed, we support the use of appropriate enforcement measures agaisnt individuals who have caused issues through inconsiderate behaviour. However we strongly feel that using blanket powers contained in the the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 is not the right way to safeguard the vibrant street culture that is part of the rich tapestry of city life in Bath and represent a form of collective punishment. In an open and democratic society, freedom of expression extends to street musicians in our public spaces and the sense of urban community that they help to provide. To that end, we call on Bath Council to refrain from using Public Space Protection Orders to exclude buskers, and instead to actively develop a street culture policy alongside the busking community and the Musician’s Union based upon mutual respect and dialogue that safeguards the busking tradition whilst addressing those who have genuine concerns.

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

47 Comments on "Don’t Banish The Buskers, Keep Streets Live in Bath"

  • Bev O'Neill says

    I continue to be proud to know you Jonny Walker and all you stand for in morals and principles…….And above all your over riding spirituality ~ That I share too
    You are held very highly in my esteemation ~ And you endless energy knows no bounds…….As you continue to push forward as the head of the campaign to ‘Keep Music on our Streets’
    Freely played like your good self and hundreds if not thousands doing just the same ~ Day in day out in all extremes of weather (bless ya, Jonny – Buxton the other day brrrr)
    But you do it for your pure love and devotion to Busking ~ Music is a healing force in a all four corners of our Wonderful Earth…..And it appeals to all Cultures and Creeds ~ It knows no distinction or boundary
    So it is a ‘Free Spirit’ and therefore played anywhere the wind blows
    Without fear of retribution, fine or being moved on
    Bring more ‘Music onto the Streets’ not less I say with a passionate voice!!!
    I shall be in London from the 25th onwards for 1 week only if you require my support for the Campain or even a flyer giver but with a message from Me
    Bev O’Neill……Music Devotee

  • I was born in Bath and went to school in Broad Street. I had some school ceremonies in the Abbey as a child, so have sung there a few times.

    I now live in another county but I have many good memories of the area around the Abbey, so, now that I have a live act together (playing Bossa Nova), I have been really looking forward to going to Bath one summer to do some busking for the locals and tourists.

    As I play quiet music, I definitely need a small amplifier to be heard above the street sounds which would otherwise mask my music. So, when I heard last year that they are trying to shut down buskers and especially buskers with amps, this really upset me. It is hard to believe anyone could ban music. Music is not a crime! It adds to culture and makes life more interesting. So I am against any ridiculous by-laws that outlaws busking in Bath or anywhere else in the world.

  • It is a disgraceful breech of power from the council, music adds so much to the city of Bath. We will do everything we can to block this, the best way will be to get new councillors elected in May.

  • Owen J says

    Bath was a lovely town to live in 20 years ago, before ‘gentrification’.

    • I hear what you say Owen, a not unrelated point , is that Classical Guitar ( my ‘chosen’ instrument ) became a truly artistic, ‘folk’ expressive, spontaneous, ‘Romantic’ art-form way back in 19th Century Spain and would have remained so post the ‘Modern’ Period of Andres Segovia and Villa Lobos if it were’nt for its ‘bourgeiosification’ by a dominant culture of middle-class elite during the 1950s with its accompanying craze for rather ‘mechanical’, exacting like renditions of Bach.

      Sadly the classical guitar still has’nt recovered from this demise, check out the kind of ‘solo’ guitarist coming out of the Birmingham Conservertoire these days, not only the last 20years but today in the 21st Century, and there you have it, a kind of ‘bourgeoise’ sophisticate ‘function’ musician the lot of them. And that includes both at undergraduate and ‘extra-mural’ level.

      This has all got to change if the Art is to survive and the key solution maybe to take a few lessons from the South American Academies and create/develop a kind of ‘high-cultured’ popular school of ‘Art’ Guitar. An important part of the remedy of course is for motivated perhaps largely ‘self-taught’ individuals, ‘alternative’ Segovia’s, to take up the challenge.

      That is to put the ‘feel’ back into so called ‘classical’ guitar and yes kind of ‘popularise ‘it ( in a high-minded cultural way!) without ‘trashing’ the art and dragging the guitar through the gutter. Remember Segovias ultimate grand aim was to take the guitar out of ‘the cafe’ and place it firmly on ‘the concert stage’.

      Its a real challenge though, and only for the most committed and toughest of individuals. We all start off ( yes myself included ) in the same place i.e. ‘below’ average. The difficulty is that when you do decide to commit, lift yourself out of the mediocre ( I’ve succeeded on the streets by being ‘above’ average mediocre ) it really is like hitting a ‘brick’ wall. Believe me, getting to grips with the truly ‘difficult’ stuff and interpreting it convincingly and with ‘authentic’ feeling is hard, theres nothing harder, it like attempting to scale a sheer ‘vertical’ cliff face.

      Today, this is the ‘serious’ task for any would be, budding, up and coming Classical Guitarist. It really is a matter of finding the courage to go against the odds and ‘grow’ with the art and instrument, knowing the reality that Teachers, schooling, academies really can’t ultimately help you with the core problem; you see this is very much a ‘cultural’ struggle, an artistic battle that can only be successfully won by ‘the individual’.

      • Nb. For an ‘insight’ into how the ‘classical’ Music Industry truly works read Nigel Kennedy’s ‘early’ Biography ‘ Always Playing’.

      • ‘Will’ to push the boundaries, and ‘explore’ & you soon discover how ‘advanced’ technique on the Classical Guitar is wonderfully ‘understated’.

        More difficult than ‘Flamenco’ Guitar ( despite ‘appearances’ ), & much more challenging than ‘tapping’!.

        • * Note

          Granted these other ‘style’s have their expressive capacities; & in the instance of Artists like Sabicas, Paco De Lucia, Antoine Dufour even ( * Candyrat Records ) they have been fully realised.

          Any way, no matter, at the end of the day
          my ambition is to become ‘ a way of being ‘ Champion!

  • Welcome to, a ‘ free speech ‘ zone, where all ideas can get examined freely and with ‘detachment’. And also with a certain touch of love and affection, since there are people, performers out there who are in the process of growing, and its a kind of ‘transformational’ process that they’re in, and all to the good.

    Pity this sentiment of openness and communication so nobly presented on your ‘blog’ here, is not extended to your public meetings Jonny. Remember the meeting in Liverpool, the one held at Mello Mello Cafe. I remember after a rather lengthy introduction i.e. one dominated by a 20min ‘opening’ speech made no other than yourself, kindly being given the the opportunity to make a few points myself ( I a ‘fellow’ Busker, having travelled up from Birmingham that day ) to be abruptly and pretty damned rudely interupted by no one other than again yourself.

    This I recall happened 3 times and after I ( and your audience, a ‘small’ gathering of Liverpool Buskers ) had listened very patiently and with good humour to ‘yourself’. It was a rather maddening experience because I don’t remember being about to say anything controversial, when you so uncourteously butted in, I was just intending to make a few’reflective’ points. I’d certainly done nothing to deserve what can only be described as the ‘despotic’ and ill-manner behaviour of yourself.

    So its in this context and spirit that when I turn to consider the proposed legislative ‘busking’ situations in places like Bath, Birmingham and now Dublin, Ireland ( Buskers in this city too currently under cultural oppression ) I’m left dismayed, as for Camden including both its ‘activism’ and estasblished legislature all I’m picking up here is an ‘image’ of control gone mad.

    Take the recent video of yourself and Busking colleagues protesting in London the other week. On the one hand we have the picture of protesters being confronted by Wardens who have turned up on the scene attempting to represent a ‘draconian’ council and its way ‘too’ restrictive ‘licensing policy, on the other hand we have the other ‘guys’ ( protesters ) seemingly attempting to rationally present the busking right to protest, and then yourself Jonny angrily grapping a mic and attempting to not only ‘out’ blast the Wardens but ‘fellow’ Activists, Public and anyone else in standing around in the vicinity with ‘your’ particular brand of activist rhetoric.

    Ok I see you’ve made some sort of public apologe for what was deemed as your ‘aggressive’ behaviour ( so much for the ‘man of peace’ image Jonny, the son of ‘a man of the cloth’ ) and ok, for that you may be forgiven, but what you most definitely must be held to account for and unremittinly so, is your clearly entrenched tendency to at every opportunity take part in ‘self-publicising’ a ‘busking’ code you and others devised for Liverpool and now an idea you want to push on everyone else claiming its suitablity for ( and rather arrogantly its superiority to) every where else in the country, that is every town and every city . To be quite frank I for one am sick and tired of this polemic, because the only institution it seems to serve is on the one hand yourself Jonny and on the other the conventional ‘media’, a media that thrives on ‘character’ ‘melodrama’, extremes and ‘conflict’ stories such as this one.

    No, enough is enough, its time to find, to negotiate ‘the middle way’ and thats simply a matter of insisting on ‘individual’s being made accountable for their actions whether that be ‘amp’ abuse, noise nuisance or whatever and for others i.e. the ‘authentic’ conscientious Street Performer/Entertainer/Public Musician to not only be left alone by so called authorities but to be actively recognised and ‘encouraged’.

    As for the issue of ‘nationwide’ busking schemes/codes let them be ones that have grown organically out of their said environments, the truth is there are no ‘strict’ 10 Commandments of Busking nor statutes for that matter, that can be be said to be ‘generally’ workable. I know from experience that in truth there are always a number of ‘ways of doing things’ in any one area – there are always options, ‘choices’ to be made.

    On the issue of ‘civic’ policing generally I’m a great believer in 2 guiding ‘moral’ principles, firstly the liberal concept of ‘propriety’ as espoused by Adam Smith in his companion book to The Wealth of Nations that is his Theory of Moral Sentiments and secondly the modern liberal concept of ‘spontaneous order’ as concieved by the Vienna Circle Economist Hayek.

    ‘Propriety’ here means not Victorian prudery but simply the idea of shaping ones behaviour around common-sense public expectations eg. play loud as you like on the big city high street but tone it down a little in the cafe, office and indeed yes the church district. Spontaneous order simply means , wherever possible let the public decide, and let that decision be ‘on the spot’ and thus concieved naturally eg meaning accept the ‘right’ of a cafe customer to come over to you and yes tell you to ‘ f..k off! ‘ if he does’nt like what you’re doing and for the reason of you disturbing his peace. We as Buskers could all benefit from adopting a little bit of ‘proprety’ in our behaviour as we could avoid alot of unnecessary trouble by responding honestly ( and ’empathetically’ ) to the ‘spontaneous order’

    Remember these kinds of issues are not simply ‘ matters of taste ‘ to be ignored, as I notice you have suggested elsewhere on Twitter pages, Facebook commentaries Jonny. No rather they’re matters of ‘propriety’ , a set of reasonable common-sense public expectatons to be rightly policed by the ‘spontaneous order’ – a natural human social balancing mechanism that I argue ( and agree alongside Hayek ) is a much better and more effective ‘moral’ approach to civic society than that of the state what with its unfair and imbalanced impositions, and quite ‘unnatural’ designs of beauracrats and ‘career’ politicians.

    • Jonny says

      Hi Nigel,

      At the heart of the Liverpool guidance is an insistence upon individual responsibility rather than collective punishment.

      If you look at what is going on in Bath, the need for a similar approach is obvious.

      On the one hand there are a small minority of buskers who have caused persistent issues. On the other hand there is a major stakeholder (the Abbey) who wishes to delegitimise busking and drive street artists to the periphery of the city away from all the people.

      The alternative to a legislatively backed exclusion zone?

      An approach which preserves the informality and spontaneity of the busking tradition and combines it with insistence upon personal responsibility?
      No blanket ban or preemptive licensing, instead a recognition that an individual performer who creates persistent issues will face consequences, but that these consequences pertain to that individual and not to buskers per se as an undifferentiated class of persons.

      The busking tradition faces an (albeit uneven) legislative assault oftentimes backed by a covert agenda. In the case of Liverpool (and Dublin) the Business Improvement District (BID) lobbied local government for new powers to be used against buskers because their presence did not coincide with the vision of public space held by these corporatised quasi quangos. The cuts to local government have left them without adequate resources for the kind of civic mediation it seems you and I both favour and dependent upon the budgets of BIDS for providing services that were once the domain of local government.

      The Liverpool Guidance is not intended to be a binding catch all for every situation but an attempt to capture an ethos that already exists amongst buskers an attempt to encourage civility and dialogue between buskers and those who on occasion object to them. In York, the Liverpool guidance is being adapted to the needs of the York community with input from local buskers, local shops and the local authority. The same is true in London.

      Join us Nigel! We need all the help we can get.

      • And oh and another important political/civic ideal I’d like to see more adhered to is that when and where there is the necessity of governance let it be of the more ‘liberal’ sort ie. that Wardens, PCSOs, Police and Council Officials intervene in public/civil conflicts involving Street Performers/Buskers in a spirit of ‘neutrality’ and objectivity rather than the rather petty, onesided, cowardly cow-towing to narrowly interested policy that you usually witness.

        Its not simply a matter of ‘ well, the police, wardens they’re just doing their job ‘ no its time for police/wardens themselves as persons etc to demontrate much more ‘critcal’ prowess and spontaneous ( ‘on the spot’ ) discriminatory judgement in favour of Street Artists when called on to enforce locally concieved political policy that merely serves, albeit powerful, but ‘minority’ business interests – interests that are often economically extremely ‘right’ wing in character and neo-liberal in attitude.

        In this context I call upon bodies such as the police ( the local legislative arm ) to ‘recognise’ and uphold the rights and concerns of Buskers just as much as Shopkeepers, Retailors, Charity Street Salespeople, Street Preachers and indeed Street People when ( out of ‘necessity’ ) they are called upon to deal with public altercations and disputes.

        Sadly all too often, in my experience, the ‘reality’ is the justified ‘complaints’ of the Street Artist are ignored, and one is left with feelings of not just being the member of a marginalised social group, but a socially isolated individual, a ‘non-citizen’ without a police force.

        As a ‘would be’ Public Musician progress for me is very much tied up with bodies such as the police ( legislative arm ) devolping a sense of ‘propriety’ and common-sense with regards ‘their’ policing of ‘culture’ and the public space. furthermore I believe that ‘we’, the public and authorities could march light years ahead if it was the ideal ‘liberal’ approach to ‘civic’ policing that were being so vigourously pursued by local Politicians and Beauracrats right now.

        And of course made policy ( & in line with ‘popular’ expectation, programmed into ‘police’ culture, made the norm rather than ‘rarity’ ). And that Street Performing/Public Art and Musicianship were attributed positive value and its creative potential clearly recognised and for this important ‘grass’ roots culture to be preserved by both general public and ‘state’.

        • On the queston of ‘liberal’ toleration and the general public, I see no problem here because I for one acknowledge that the general public do indeed ‘tolerate’ a lot of things – the numerous often ‘challenging’ events happening all around them whilst out shopping in our towns and city centres, Buskers and busking included – and I think they do put up with things quite admirably so.

          However, one things reasonably sure the Public are not going to tolerate ‘impropriety’ in the public space and nor should they be expected to, no way!. Its not jsut simply a matter of ‘ tough put up with it! ‘ ( Jonny Walker view as I understand it! ) when confronted with, or ‘imposed’ upon, by an obvious nuisance ( incl. busking ones ) when sitting down to relax and have a cup or coffee. No, everyone has a ‘right’ to vent their feelings, their upset and express criticism in such situations and attempt to get the nuisance moved on if necessary.

          Canturbury Council with their way too restrictive policy on Cafe Buskers could learn a lesson from this Adam Smithsonian morality – and the power of ‘propriety’. Don’t ban busking outright in certain vicinities, this has the opposite effect of deterring ‘good’ culture and entertainment, honest artistic potential. No wiser to leave it to the ‘spontaneous’ order to sort situations ( ‘conflicts’ ) out, and i.e. don’t underestimate the power and effectiveness of a simple ‘jeer’ from Cafe Customers, a Waiter popping over and having a word as a remedy to nuisance as and when it crops up.

          Bath Buskers are clearly now in the position of having to win over ‘the hears and minds’ of its general public ( shopkeepers and retailers included ) if they are to survive as a relatively free and ‘liberal’ cultural formation in the city; decent performers who need them, still being allowed to use ‘amps’ at reasonable levels in all busking zones and spots so as to ply their trade.

          For this to happen, to win over ‘the hearts and minds’ of the general public that is, and win their ‘vital’ political backing, what is needed ( a ‘must’ ), is again simply, a keen sense of propriety. You know, without this key ‘moral’ quality I really don’t think Buskers in Bath will achieve their aims, they won’t be taken ‘seriously’, public support will dwindle and wane, and all may well be lost.

      • Jonny, I know you want to ignore it but honestly and ‘seriously’ check out Jez Brouns You Tube Video ‘ Should Buskers Amplifiers Be Banned In Bath? ‘ . He was the first person to point out the problem of ‘minority’ nuisance in Bath regards excessive ‘noise’ volumes etc. Once more he’s lived in the place for 40years yet on this very website you join in with ‘anonymous’ commentators and ‘smear’ him as a lawbreaker.

        I attend a meeting of yours held in Liverpool last year point out a similar problem in Birmingham including my own ‘smearing’ by a Busker named again and again as the source of ‘noise’ nuisance by various legitemate sources and you not only ignore me, both you and others in your organisation go on to work with the guy and when I attempt to raise concerns about this very issue on this website you ‘gaslight’ me.

        Now you ask me to join you. Do you really take me for that much of an idiot Jonny?

        • Come on Jonny be ‘honest’ for once and answer this question. Give it your full consideration and please a little bit of your integrity as the founder of a ‘public’ organisation for Street Artists and Performers.

          Q. What prompted the removal of ‘comments’ ( including your own ) targeted at Jez Broun under the article/blog ‘Harmony Outside Bath Abbey’. Were they removed by ‘mutual’ consent’ or as the result of a Solicitors Letter?.

          One thing I do notice, on observing the page, is that you do in fact know the difference between ‘spiteful’ smear and Fair Comment. Yes, thats very evident!.

          • Hi Nigel,

            It is our policy to allow comments to appear on this page provided they do not stray into hate speech.

            A number of buskers made critical remarks about Jez Broun which he considered to be defamatory. He asked me to take them down and, after consideration, I took them and related comments down.

            Jez has acted as a some time advocate for buskers in Bath and deserves respect for much of what he has done.

            At the recent meeting in Bath Jez called for the introduction of a limited number mandatory busking permits to be introduced in Bath. Keep streets live opposes the use of mandatory licenses and busking permits so we respectfully disagree with the approach Jez advocates.

            Jez, by his own admission, is very much an occasional busker who doesn’t rely on busking earnings. He also has chosen not to participate in busker’s meeting in Bath or to canvass the views of buskers or the Musician’s Union.

            As such, my personal feeling is whilst Jez is entitled to his views, it is not appropriate for him to call for restrictions on freedom of expression of artists and musicians who he does not represent.

            This represents a difference of approach between Keep Streets Live and bath but we have made every attempt to canvass the views of those whom any policy changes would affect.

  • As a fellow local busker in Bath…I say Ban Amps! Not Buskers!

    The musicians in Bath who are greedy enough to keep playing at unbearable levels and do not compromise with anybody have themselves to blame. They have ruined it for all. Its well deserved. Banning amps and there will be no more arguments between locals, buskers, residents etc etc etc.

    • Jonny says

      This is a direct quote from the letter Edward Mason sent out to his parishioners which makes clear his objections are not just about amplified music but extend to ANY music:

      ‘ The order only excludes amplified music. There are plenty of examples where non-amplified music- operatic voices, drums, saxophones, xylophones – have disrupted Abbey service’

      Whilst it can clearly be tempting to blame other buskers for all the problems, some people object to all buskers, regardless of amplification.

      I would that where a busker causes noise issues,whether amped or unamped, they should face enforcement action if they don’t adjust their performance.
      Blanket bans that affect everybody are not the answer.

    • Jonny says

      And here is a link to a letter the Rector sent to all his parishioners explaining why he prefers for there to be no music at all in the social spaces around the Abbey.

    • Billy, I tried a German ‘Hauser’ Classical Guitar not long back, of the kind used by Segovia following his ‘Ramirez’ days. They’re beautifully crafted, hand-built, ‘concert’ guitars and boy are they ‘loud’, double the volume of your average classical guitar.

      Trouble is even the Hauser don’t ‘ cut it ‘ on ‘ the Streets’, you can get nowwhere near the ‘presence’ and outdoors ‘tonal’ quality compared for example to my current Yamaha and Roland set up. Segovia’s ‘stage’ guitar was designed just for that – the ‘indoor’ stage and works neigh perfectly. For a ‘Cafe’ equivalent you definite require a nylon-string guitar/’amp’ set up.

      Its the same for many folk acts an ‘unamped’ acoustic guitar just does’nt work for ‘solo’ instrumental acts in cities like Birmingham nor the larger ‘arenas’ of places like Stratford upon Avon. Not if you ‘truly’ want to produce a ‘quality’ and thus ‘truly’ entertaining sound, and believe me Classical Guitar is all about the ‘sound’ ( plus technique and ‘arrangement’ ).

      Thats why I support Buskers protesting against proposed ‘amp’ bans in places like Dublin Ireland. There are many ‘class’ acts that play on the streets of that beautiful city and why not they be allowed a ‘needed’ boost to their ‘natural’ instrument if genuinely needed and it in turn enhances the quality of their sound.

      Byetheway I get ‘no’ complaints these days about my ‘public’ performance ( nor the type of ‘musical’ equipiment I use ) when I’m out playing, which I do in many places, and regularly.

      • And bytheway switching to the topic of future possible ‘busking’ protests in Bath, have those intrepid Street Activists of Camden Town, ‘The Holy Church of the Kazoo’ ever thought of taking up ‘Campanology’ ?.

        • In the meantime Billy, with regards to your reference ( above ) to particular ‘ musicians in in Bath who are greedy enough to play at unbearable levels …’ , who are these selfish performers you mention ‘ have ruined it for all’ ? eg. Are they long established home Buskers or ‘newcomers’ to the town? . More importantly can you name names? are you prepared to ‘out’ the offenders here and now, declare who they actually are in Public?.

  • Listen I’m not Sherlock Holmes but the reason I request this information form you Billy is that i thing I detect a pattern here one that without too much sleuthing work you find in Camden ( no ‘direct’ experience ), Stratford upon Avon ( personal experience ), Bimingham ( personal experience ) and of course here in Bath.

    What appears to be happening is that indeed in places there are 1 or 2 over ‘volumnous’ performers causing a bit of noise nuisance , but instead of targeting these relatively ‘few’ individual acts, bringing them to ‘just’ accountability, the Council Authorities seem rather to respond to ‘the odd ‘ often ‘serial’ complainant ( there being relatively ‘few’ formal general public complaints! ) and use this as excuse to begin to manouvre and close down the whole of Street Performing in a town area ( often ‘public’ space located in the town centre ).

    Billy, you may not be able to ‘control’ the existence of a pretty cynical and nasty ‘political scapegoating process’ once it has gained momentum but if you can ‘identify’ and stave off the initial ‘trigger’ offenders, you do stand a change of stopping the whole beauracratic machine from getting rolling. So please provide ‘the names’ of guilty partees if you can because importantly Its also a matter of plain ‘justice’ that noise culprits be brught out into the open and made accountable for their actions esp. if it can be argued that their ‘not’ playing by the rules is spoiling it for others.

  • A thought on Greed ( * See Billy’s comment ). Sometimes I think the term is confused with being ‘grabbing’ or acting out of rapaciousness. Money-making ( and lots of it! ) I don’t believe is necessarily intrinsically good or bad, what is often in question for me, is the manner and style in which a person goes about doing it.

    • * A Corresponding Sermon

      ” No man can get rich himself unless he enriches others”

      All things being equal your success will always be measured by the ‘quality’ of service you render. Money is a ‘yardstick’ for measuring this service,

      ” Your returns are equal to your service ”

      If you want more, you must be of more service to those from whom you recieve your return. If you want ‘less’ then you only have to reduce that service!.

      • So Billy, unless you want to ‘escape’ to Paradise or ‘retreat’ into a Monastry, come and ‘join us’ & help break down the ‘walls’ of race and class & get to where we want to be i.e. in a state of authentic ‘freedom’ and truly living a better life.

        If in ‘time’, we only manage to break down half the wall, then that would be a ‘life-times’ achievement. At least we could say out of ‘love’ ( or by ‘default’ ) we paved-the-way for the next generation.

        The only important thing to remember as ‘we’ embark on such ‘a challenging path ‘ is to do it with ‘ propriety’ , so let as Street Artists and Performers make this a ‘democratic’ stuggle!.

        • Again, come and join ‘us’ Billy, theres plenty of ‘choice’ (multiple ways of ‘joining in’ ) , from Jonny and his Brigade at ‘Streetslive’ to the likes of me i.e. the ‘One-Man-Campaigner’.

          • Of course Billy, as a ‘thinker’ I do realise that there ‘some’ value in the ‘contemplative’ life and at least a degree of solitude.

            After lengthy ‘meditation’ on the subject, I do recognise that this is in many senses a ‘free’ country, and as long as a person does not harm other people he has the ‘inaliable right’ to be as ‘wrong’ as he wants to be.

            ” We must view with utmost respect
            the infinite capacity of the human-
            mind to resist the in-road of useful
            knowledge” ( Sir Charles Lansbury
            – Educator and Philanthropist )

            You know men and women all over the world have been ‘kidding themselves’, and holding themselves down, and refusing the bounty and
            abundance of the world for centuries.

  • * The identity of the source(s) of my final statement ( above ) is withheld.

  • Finlly, its taken The Church of England, neigh on 100 years since the declaration of Female Emancipation and The Representation of the Peoples Act in 1918, to ordain ‘female’ Bishops into the Church.

    A Street Performer whether they wish to express themselves in the public space on a musical instrument such as the Classical Guitar
    or whether they attend a ‘public’ meeting concerning street issues has a ‘right to be heard’ ( to some ‘room of ones own’ to express their own individual, unique, ‘creative’ voice ).

    Thats is the ‘true’ bottomline.

  • Hymn To The Collective ( Busking at Christmas )

    Changing not just the subject a minute but the season ie. to a whole different time ( month ) of the year, I implore ‘all’ Buskers out there, performing on the ‘streets’ at present ( 25th Nov 2016 ) to ok enjoy xmas ( afterall I ‘earned’ my record amount of busking money eg. double zero figures, 4 years back, one afternoon in a ‘snow’ blizzard on the Bham German Xmas Market, officially the coldest Winter in 100 years ) but don’t get too complacent, esp during these times ( of ‘austerity’, high homelessness, & drug addiction ), cos’ mark my words theres a lot of desparate people out there too & unlike the weather, they will ‘consciously’ aim to spoil your day.

    Yeah, obviously this can be a very much a cold, miserable & ‘trying’ time of the year for some, Buskers incl ( our more ‘fair’ Weather friends that is ), who for ‘some’ reason prefer to stay at home, clinging to ‘radiator’ & hearth & not fully realising, that with a little ‘faith’, persistance, & wisened ‘experience ( busking knowingness ! ) this can be the most ‘lucrative’ ( i.e. most profitable ) time of year for Street Artists & Performers & ‘most’ enjoyable period for Street Performing.

    My heart is already ‘warmed’ by the fact that the last time I was out busking, ( last week ). a ‘guy’ – a yg nobleman ( appeared ‘foreign’, Latin American, Argentinian ) dropped a $ 100 dollar bill in my guitar case. I’d been recieving quite a few ‘plastic’ looking £ 5.OO notes that day, so this huge dollar bill, rather than immediately pleasing me, instead aroused my suspicions. Prematurely however, & how wrong I was( about the ‘fivers’ also, new ‘valid’ design currency, all of it ! ), cos’ as it turned out, under the scrutiny & examination of the city-centre ‘currency’ exchange, the dollar bill turned out to be ‘real’ & what with the ‘weak’ Post Brexit pound at present , I too my further ‘surprise’ & delight, got almost £80 in return.

    Worth celebrating this, earning this kind of ‘money’, at this time of year, lifting ones ‘spirits’ right up & out of Winter Illness ( in the case of myeself not a ‘seasonal’ flu, a cough & cold, i.e. Buskers being prone to the Autumnal ‘lergi’, but a ‘suspect’ TIA. Following myself ‘busking’ like, rather ‘naievely’ going at it like, a ‘migrating’ wild Geese in December, me now back in Bham on the streets i.e. street performing the equivalent of 4 long-haul ‘flights’, back to back, 8hrs at a time, without once even thinking to get up & ‘stretch’ my legs !. The ‘price’ for this kind of ‘exhaustive’ busking practice ( activity! ) of course being a possible ‘mini’-stroke, due to the ‘pooling’ & unnatural ‘coagulation’ of blood in the ‘arms’ or legs, & consequent blocking of ‘oxygen’ to the brain, which in other ‘circumstances’ cd have been ‘fatal’.

    Yes a telling lesson this on not necessarily ‘greed’, but on not taking anything for ‘granted’ most importantly your ‘health’, your ‘natural’ prowess on the ‘streets’. No, listen up, all you seasonally ‘wise’ amongst us, don’t get too complacent about Xmas, what was that parable Jesus himself taught us, you know about ‘rich’ men not getting to heaven, the ‘eye’s of needles, & all our ‘earthly’ wealth going to rust & to thieves in the end. Well in many senses, I can vouchsafe ‘he’s right, ironically so, cos’ the chances of ‘street’ theft go’s dramatically up, during this the very time of Jesus’s birthday, yes very very much so, at this the ‘Christmas’ time of year.

    More am I reminded of this social fact ( this ‘real’ threat & danger on the streets ) not just by the attempted ‘change’ stealing I experienced ( fell honest ‘victim’ too ) a month or so back ( on my first ‘busking’ appearance back in Bham, following a Summer away, See. London Blogs ‘comments’ ) but by the ‘loud’ crash, shattering of glass, I’ve just heard outside of my ‘living’ room window ( a flat, above a high street, in suburban Bham ), yes a ‘bang’ & scream outside on the ‘streets’ by where I live.

    Not the shop i.e. Restaurant or Hairdressers downstairs windows being put in, I might add, but I notice on looking outside, that a ‘cars’ side window has been smashed by an ‘opportunist’ thief, as the brand ‘new’ owner ( a yg Asian Girl ! ) ‘occupied’ Fiat, stood ‘engine’ idleing away, at the local T-juncion, waiting to pull out into the High Street. Seems a ‘guy’ just ran past, broke her car ‘rear’ seat window, grabbed her handbag & then ran off as she was about to ‘drive’ onto the main road. Police have arrived & passersbye are trying to kindly console, a very shaken, yg woman !.

    Let this be a good ‘moral’ lesson ( as well as ‘spiritual’ one ) for all Buskers playing out in towns & citie’s across the country this Xmas. Don’t be put off by the ‘grey’ skys & ‘wintry’ weather, yes put on the ‘thermals’ & go out and busk, this can be by far the best time of the year for making money. However in that other ‘good’ sense do not slouch, be careful, keep an eye on your busking takings, take your ‘money’ out at ‘regular’ intervals, don’t appear over ‘confident’ or claim ‘bragging’ rights when the ‘coins’ do begin to drop in ( as they almost definitely will if you properly ‘prepare’ ! ) cos just around the corner is not Father Christmas but an ‘opportunist’ thief, & he will be very happy ( again unlike the weather ‘consciously’ ) to just ‘ruin’ your day for you, so take care. The lesson, Don’t Be A Sucker ! .

  • Keeping It Both ‘Authentic’ & Live This Christmas ( or ‘ Where the Mind Goes, The Man Will Follow ! ‘ )

    A brief note, as far as the likes myself, playing on sites like the Bham Xmas German Market this year, I’m more likely to be found playing on the ‘fringes’ this time. Me intending to perform on an ‘alternative’, perhaps more ‘authentic’ ‘city-centre’ location, more suitable for the style’ of music I hope to be playing .

    My whole ‘strategy’ to Street Performing is ‘changing’, gradually ‘creatively’ transforming. In line with new ‘health’ needs I now put the ‘guitar’ down ever hour, stretch my legs, walk a little, & most importantly get the blood circulation going in my ‘arms’ & legs eg. wrap ‘warming’ my arms 9 or 10 times, circling my ankles, wriggling my toes, lifting my ‘knees’ & pumping my foot up towards the body, all to get ‘pooled’ blood flowing again .

    ( Nb. As ‘lucidly’ explained by my EEG Scan specialist this morning, the most important first key to physical health not being standard popular ‘gym’ requirements i.e. ‘flexibility’, strength, endurance, nor stamina, but getting blood ‘freely’ flowing to the brain, ‘medical’ science proving that this most important of organs ‘ the brain’ needs 2 things to function at an healthy ‘optimum’ level eg 1.. ‘glucose’ & 2. oxygen, ) .

    In addition to ‘radically’ changed working ( ‘busking’ ) practices I’m step by step ( its taken 3 years of ‘research’ * practice thus far ! ) I’m ‘improving’ my music, bearing in mind that to succeed ( indeed ‘flourish’ ) at Street Performing its all about e.g ‘spot’, performance ‘skill’ level, ‘mindset’ & personality, sound & equipment incl ‘mobility’, & of course the music.

    In this respect I don’t have a ‘fixed’ set as such but it very much ‘varies’ according to place & ‘location’. Me varying it of course in line with my own art philosophy, musical liking & ‘taste’ !. As such rather than playing this Xmas on the German Market I intend to play by the ‘new’ connection of city ‘centre’ subways linking the Town Hall area & ‘new’ Library, hopefully to conjour up a ‘genuine’ high modern French, ‘street’ Salon, parisian boulevard sound i.e. yes its Agustin Barrios, Ernesto Nazareth, & Antonio Lauro for me this year all the way ! .

    • Notes

      Many ‘life’ philosphy’s emphasise self ‘development, ‘growth’, individual improvement as the ‘corrollaries’ to the good life. Some people talk of bettering the self, others of ‘ being themselves’, for me esp. as a ‘serious’ Street Performer ( aspiring Public Musican ) its first & foremost about getting ‘reality’ right i.e. natural ‘organic’ reality ( yes, getting that down to a tee ! ).

      ( * Nb. In this role & ‘identity’ you spend so much of your time ‘performing’ outside, in the warmth & in the cold, facing & contending with all weathers & people so its ‘key’ to get this aspect of our ‘working’ existence right ! )

      You know speaking with ( & getting to know ) my EEG specialist this morning ( in hostpital ! , formed part of not only a ‘technically’ healing experience ( ‘medical’ process ) but amazingly developed into quite a deep ‘spiritual’ experience, Him, his name is Ivan, coming across as a humanly ‘fascinating’ ( & intrigueing ) Post-Modern ‘character’ mix of Carl Jung, An Indian Guru ( he’s from the Punjab), Jesus & yes ‘Desert’ Stoic, Berber or Tuareg Tribesman ! . Nb. I learned this morning that for example ‘ stress ‘ ( the condition ) does not necessarily exist ( as shown in ‘scientific’ studies ), that ‘happiness’ is in the heart ( ‘love’ being a ‘key’ prerequisite to joy ), & that ‘thoughts’ possess their own kind of energy ( dark or ‘light’ ! ) .

      It certainly was a ‘joy’ to meet this kind of person today, of the sort I have’nt ‘met’ in ages ( a ‘medical’ practitioner who lived in ‘relative’ poverty for many years in an Indian Christian Community & Monastry as a yg man ). Plus it looks very likely we’ll be ‘linking’ up again ( based in Ireland he’s moving to England to work full-time with the NHS soon ! ), in fact theres a definite future prospect ( if all things go well ! ) that we’ll become ‘friends’ .

      • * Further Notes

        As far as ‘Eastern’ Philosphy goes in general I unlike many Westerners who seem to mistake Tibetan Bhuddhism ( Nb. the Dalai Llama viewed as a ‘living’ God by its ‘countries’ many adherants eg. a largely ‘peasant’ class ) for some brand of ‘Existentialism, am not ‘attracted’ to this ‘ancient’ religion.

        No, a ‘reasoned’ non beliver in Divine ‘ divination ‘ & all other forms of ‘priestly’ magic ( this is whats used to ‘source’ the ‘reincarnated’ boy Dalai Lama, on the ‘adult’ ones death, a kind of ‘antiquated’ astrology ! ) I gravitate towards philosophies like Confucianism or more so the ‘ideas’ of Lao Tzu & ‘Tao’.

        Once more if given ‘no’ choice i.e. in some future nightmare ‘dystopian’ universe, this is very much the political ( nevermind ‘spiritual’ ) direction I personally wd go!.

        • ( See. Notes from ‘Lifes Little Philosphies’ Nb. following treatment for a ‘suspect’ TIA after ‘visual’ disturbance on New St prior to Xmas. )

  • In the Name Of Humanity ( or Re-building Whats Left From The Rubble of our own ‘blind’ destruction’ ! )

    In the name of humanity I call on all ‘liberal’, progressive, decent-minded, & yes ‘healthy’ revolutionary leaning people in the name of ‘humanity’ to put aside their ‘petty’ differences, honestly ‘grow’ out of the ‘serious’ ones & come together in in mind, body & spirit to save the world at this ( believe me! ) perilous time.

    Yes we are in the words taken off, up & coming contemporary ‘pop’ Singer Songwriter, independant artist, fashion model & busker Jazz Mino’s new single ‘Footprints’ ( ” Better off together ! ” ) & I say its now time to ‘rebuild’ from the rubble ( of ‘our’ own ‘blind’ destruction ).

    And this means a ‘purge’, again yes we’ve got to ‘clean’ out the past to move forward, to make ‘serious’ progress, & defend ‘our’ realm. ( & in this little ‘project’ we show no mercy to those who work against us esp. those who refuse ( or simply can’t for ‘mal’ genetic, ‘stunted’ personality reasons or spuriously something else ! ).

    This means we’ve got to face up to & ‘purge’ the past of all the ‘crazy’ activists, the poe faceed & hypocritical Quasi -Fascist ‘political’ correcties at the Guardian & their ‘fellow’ little pundits. New Labour style ‘neo’ liberal Thatcherism’s got to go also, yes ‘drive’ it all out. All the fake ‘icon’ worship that goes on in ole left organisations ( often resembling the ‘Right’ eg. current USA Presidential Office of ‘recent’ times ) must be ‘torched’ alive along with all the ‘fan’ exploitation & abuse.

    All this must go, be ‘purged’ out, & the adherants left behind & forgotten or else they ‘bow’ down on the ground in shame, heads down low facing the floor, whilst we ponder what to do with these human ‘beasts’. Only then can we even begin to come together in a spirit of ‘honest’ shared values, cum up with a ‘plan’, & take the only decent kind of ‘action’ one can take, to save the earth, our ‘mother’ planet!.

    • *Notes

      ”Beware of that crippling ‘cultural’ relativism ( or sometimes ‘handy’ political ignorance I say ! ) that preaches ‘tolerance’ at the expense of justice, truth & freedom”
      ( Source Withheld )

      • * Further Notes

        A question I’ve always pondered eg. Q. Love Or Hate, whats the difference ?

        • * Even More Notes

          Lost we should see where we are,
          Lost in a haunted wood,
          Children afraid of the night,
          Who have never been happy or good.
          ( W.H. Auden )

  • A Spiritual Pick Me Up ( or ‘feel’ good fertilizer )

    Along with the evervescent Jazz Mino ( that ‘chorus’ on Footprints is beautiful morning radio play ) heres another #spirtual pick me up for you & boy we need it in these trying times ( – on a ‘global’ scale thats an ‘understatement’ ! ).

    See. ” CK shot my face…ft Duet Diana ” ( by YouTuber CK Dowling )

    • Or if you’ve got an ‘evening’ to spare, how about joining the British Shorinji Kempo Federation ( or a ‘branch’ near you See. UKSKF or BSKF ) for peace of mind, self development & healthy ‘meditation’ ! .

      • To live one has to grow
        To grow one has to change
        To change one will start to master
        To master one accepts change
        This is more than Kempo

        The person, the person, the person everything depends on the quality of the person. Live half for yourself, half for others. To hear is to doubt, to see is to be deceived, but to feel is to believe. If what you do, is not what you do, then why are you doing it ?.

        ( Doshin So – The Wisdom of Kempo )

        • Spiritual ‘pick me ups’ ( feel-good fertilizer ) for very ‘trying’ times 1. The Chorus of Jazz Mino’s latest single ‘Footprints’ 2. CK shot my face..ft Duet Diana Video 3. Shorinji Kempo Evening Class.

          • ( * Reference ‘reading’ – Nick Cohens Recent Article ” Trumps Lies Are Not The Problem. Its The Millions Who Swallow Them That Really Matter ”, Sun 5th Feb 2017 ‘. See also his other ‘celebrated’ book – well in ‘some’ quarters’ ! – ” Whats Left ” – a critical look at the ‘crisis’ & decline of the English Post-War Left. )

          • Plus any ‘general’ theory of ‘motivaton’ eg. scientific article, academic paper, text book or ‘reputable’ pop psychology book(s’) etc that ‘pertain’ to the notion that Confidence is indeed a ‘garden’ & needs ‘seeding’, ‘feeding’, & ‘weeding’ !.

          • C.K Golding, ‘roaming’ photographer & YouTuber, look, watch & learn ! ( Nb. Even if, to ‘quote’ a line taken from elsewhere, oh yes ‘my’ beautiful luvlies, ” this guy’s ‘taken’ so many ‘selfies’, he looks as tho’ an I-phone fell on his face ! ” ).

          • BEWARE ‘ Content Creator ‘ !.

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