Press: Celebrity Busk By Indymedia

PUBLISHED by Rikki at Indymedia on 28/10/13


Camden Council looks set to introduce new controls on buskers in the area, with a pay-to-play licence scheme, and severe penalties of up to £1000 and even instrument seizure and sale.
Busker and campaigner, Jonny Walker, ( has been working with comedy activist Mark Thomas (100 Acts of Minor Dissent), and after forming the Citizens’ Kazoo Orchestra, they introduced an array of celebrity buskers in Camden High Street on 24th Oct 2013.

The line-up featured comedian/musician Bill Bailey, protest-singer Billy Bragg, and virtuoso guitarist Jon Gomm, and was compered by Mark Thomas. Jonny Walker explained the Labour Council proposals, spoke movingly of his own experiences as a busker, the connection to the homeless and the disadvantage, and the subterfuge of Camden Council (who tried to prevent him addressing their Cabinet meeting, and failed to respond to Freedom of Information requests.

A BBC film crew was in attendance, and Mark and Jonny managed to hijack their interview with Councillor Abdul Hai. After repeatedly being asked, he eventually and reluctantly agreed to meet with them before the next Council meeting.
This short video tries to capture the spirit of that day, which was blessed by Indian Summer-like weather.
There is also a written piece and some photos at my WordPress blog here

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

2 Comments on "Press: Celebrity Busk By Indymedia"

  • I passionately support the ‘ Keep The Streets Live’ Campaign couragously started by singer/songwriter Jonny Walker and nobly
    backed by celebrities such as Billy Bragg and Mark Thomas ( above ) – their truly beautiful aim to defend the freedom of our ‘streets’ and to protect our valuable ‘creative’ community from Camden Councils coercive new busking laws.

    One thing though, whilst I back the rights of those of any cultural
    taste and artistic persuasion, to open access and free expression in the public space, I do wish that some individuals out there, those that I would call the narrow minded ‘detractors’ in the public realm, would realise that there is potentially more to music than the ‘X-factor’ or ‘Britains Got Talent’.

    I myself have been playing on the streets of Birmingham and Stratford Upon Avon as a ‘serious’ street performer for the past 3 years now.

    My set however is an ‘insrumental’ one and generally influenced by a passion for Brazillian Choro, French Chanson, Popular South American Classical Guitar, Nuevo Flamenco, Piazollan Tango and Milonga etc i.e all the musics that I personally envision as fitting an ‘authentic’ Romantic Cafe Art Guitar style or sound.
    ( a self defined skill-set and art that i’m still very much growing )

    As you can imagine one of my biggest frustrations and annoyances is when the inevitable happens and some guy or girl walks up to me and shouts ‘ oi do you know any songs mate/ or do you sing mate? And I shout back , would you interupt Paco de Lucia in full flight and ask him to sing you a song you damned idiots? or wd you innanely request John Williams to come down from the stage and recite you a few lines from ‘ So here it is Merry Xmas’ , and no I don’t know any Oasis nor John Denver so feck off you petty minded fools!

    I have to say its in this context that I’m so happy to have stumbled across Jonny, not only his campagning verve but his particular performance sound out there on the street and you know what I’m loving it – what a real breath of fresh air to hear some ‘authentic’ folk expression in acoustic pop yes out there, on the streets.

    What the petty-minded out there don’t seem to realize ( or indeed the ‘Poshlost’ – I’m a lover of Russian Literature and Modern Philosophy, see Wikipedia for a definition, those of you who have never come across the term ).

    Often what the petty don’t see in the likes of me – some guy sitting out there playing a classical guitar – is that yes we do like voice and song, tho’ for me its usually in the form of some particular lyrical expression for instance I for one truly love the great folk singer songwriters like Bert Jansh and John Renbourn. On another tangent I also have a strongly felt passion for the folk romantic sound of Portuguese Fado music and singers like Marizza and Mafalda Arnauth another beautifully expressive romantic lyrical sound – ‘Amor abre a Janela’ ( Love opens the Window! )

    My message is then ( and I have to be honest with you ) , is that in the 3 yrs that I’ve been playing on the streets, I regard, on top of his hard campaiging efforts, the work of Jonny Walker as genuinely being, the only ‘acoustic ‘pop stuff that I can say that I have come across and truly liked. And you know what his is the only song stuff that I’ve heard that I’ve felt the inclination to return back to and take great pleasure in listening to ( I’ve just checked out his website for the first time and once more I’m loving it! )

    Byetheway, fantastic first Official Music Video too Jonny, the one featuring the song entitled ‘ This is not me’ . Truly on par with some some of the most inspirational street music film vid that that I’ve come across on my journey out there on the road, my little life adventure as a self-defined ‘free’ journeyman.

  • Liz Armstrong says

    The two dvd clips I’ve just watched put the case for keeping buskers on the streets patiently and convincingly, with facts like only 4 people complained about busking in Camden in a whole year, which make a nonsense of proposed restrictions.
    I liked the kazoo orchestra ! Keep up the good work & love the music.

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