Press: BBC On ASAP’s Camden Kazoo Protest

Press: BBC On ASAP’s Camden Kazoo Protest

See the TV coverage of Bill Bailey, Jon Gomm, Mark Thomas, Billy Bragg and Jonny Walker in Camden (oh, err, with kazoos – of course)

BBC Published on 24/10/12

Kazoo Protest Against License Plans

A kazoo orchestra has taken to the streets of Camden to protest about plans to licence buskers.

Comedians Mark Thomas and Bill Bailey along with musician Billy Bragg were among the people playing the wind instrument.

Under the proposals by Camden Council, anyone who wants to play a wind instrument, apart from the flute and the recorder, would need a special licence.

The council says it is responding to the concerns of residents who have complained.

BBC London’s Wendy Hurrell spoke to comedian Bill Bailey; Jonny Walker, from the Association of Street Artists and Performers; and Camden councillor Abdul Hai.

 

BBC, By Rebecca Cafe, PUBLISHED ON 24/10/2013

COULD KAZOOS BE BANISHED IN CAMDEN TOWN?

Camden Town is famed for its musical connections – so why is the council trying to ban kazoos?

If you meander through the north London town on any given day your ears are assaulted by a cacophony of sounds – loud music, market traders, sirens and gig goers spilling out on to the streets.

Along with famous venues such as the Roundhouse and the Electric Ballroom, the “most rock ‘n’ roll borough in London” also offers music in the form of buskers.

And on Thursday afternoon, the main buskers drawing the crowds were comedians Mark Thomas and Bill Bailey along with musician Billy Bragg.

A kazoo orchestra played in Camden against plans to licence buskers
They were playing Star Wars’ Death March on kazoos, a wind instrument they claim Camden council wants to ban.

At the moment anyone can rock up and play whatever they like, whenever they like.

However, the council wants to restrict performances to between 10:00 and 21:00.

Under the proposals, anyone who wants to play a wind instrument – apart from the flute and the recorder – would need a special licence, as would all percussion instruments. Any form of amplification would be banned.

‘Social cleansing’
“It’s a particularly draconian law,” said Mark Thomas.

“The thing about culture and where we live is that London is a vibrant, exciting and lively place and we want it to stay like that.”

He added: “It smacks of social cleansing and I think Camden is a unique and wonderful borough and actually it needs to keep its uniqueness rather than airbrush over it and to clean it out.”

Thomas said the council did not need to introduce a new law, but should instead set up a forum whereby the entertainers, business owners and residents could get together and work out any problems.

“I totally accept there’ll be occasions when it’s too loud; totally accept there’ll be occasions when it’s inappropriate, but you just get a method of good practice.

“If the people in Camden who are living this cutting edge life can’t put up with a few people standing in a street singing… then it’s musical incorrectness gone mad”

Billy Bragg
Musician
“If you want to solve the problem, the way to do it isn’t to be very draconian and use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

Busker Jonny Walker, who has spearheaded the campaign, said although the council had accused him of being alarmist, it was using the threat of coercion to manage what was a “very small problem”.

He said in the last year, there were 104 complaints – 15 from the same person – and that there were 52 complainants in total.

The musician added that under the terms of the licence, instruments could be confiscated and performers could be fined £1,000.

For Bragg, his main concern is that the cultural heritage of the area could change.

Camden’s links with rock ‘n’ roll go back to the mid-’60s, after a disused railway yard was turned into a counter-culture landmark called the Roundhouse. Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix played in its cavernous interior.

Amy Winehouse praised the area in her Grammy Awards acceptance speech; Bob Marley lived there in 1972 and Prince had a boutique shop there in the mid 1990s.

‘Dull and dead’
“Camden is the most rock ‘n’ roll borough in London.

“Wouldn’t it be sad if Camden was as dull and dead as some other backwater place? It’s vibrant, it’s alive.

“My friend’s kids, when they come to play in London they want to play in Camden, they don’t want to play in Barking or Sutton,” said Bragg.

Busker
Under the licence terms, acoustic guitars would be allowed
He added: “If the people in Camden who are living this cutting edge life can’t put up with a few people standing in a street singing “Take you by the hand and let me take you around the streets of Camden” then it’s musical incorrectness gone mad.”

The council said it had no plans to ban busking, but it had to listen to the concerns of residents who have complained.

Cabinet member for community safety Abdul Hai said: “We believe that all forms of street entertainment are an important part of the musical and cultural heritage of the borough.

“However, in recent months we have received an escalating number of complaints from local residents regarding disruptive busking activity, particularly where amplification is used in residential areas.

“We cannot allow the lives of people who live and work in Camden to be disrupted by noise nuisance.

“However, we are not trying to drive away street entertainers we are instead looking to attract them and add value to the performances that they give.”

Press: Celebrity Busk By Indymedia

PUBLISHED by Rikki at Indymedia on 28/10/13

CAMDEN CELEBRITY BUSK

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, (keepstreetslive.com) 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

The Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra’s Debut Protest

The Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra’s Debut Protest

By Philippa Morgan Walker

On 14th October 2013 the pavement outside Camden Town tube station, where fleeting meetings usually occur, was the location for the Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra’s debut public performance and peaceful protest against Camden Council’s draconian busking policy that would see all wind and percussion instruments banned. Instead of falling prey to such a ludicrous policy and standing idly by as Camden Council erected a wall of red tape around public space; musicians, comedians – Mark Thomas, Ben Van Der Velde, to name but a few – and those with social conscience hit the streets with instruments to send out a considered message to the council: DON’T TAKE THE MUSIC FROM OUR STREETS.

READ MORE ABOUT CAMDEN COUNCIL’S PROPOSED BUSKING POLICY and ASAP’s response

SIGN THE PETITION AGAINST THE POLICY

All photographs by Gavin Mills

Jonny Walker playing Here Comes The Sun, rather ironically, in the rain

Jonny Walker playing Here Comes The Sun, rather ironically, in the rain

The Citizen's Kazoo Orchestra tunefully played songs such as Star Wars Death March, All You Need Is Love and The Great Escape theme tune

The Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra tunefully played songs such as Star Wars Death March, All You Need Is Love and The Great Escape theme tune

The Citizen's Kazoo Orchestra on the rainy streets of Camden, protesting against a draconian policy that would make playing wind instruments on the streets of Camden illegal

The Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra on the rainy streets of Camden, protesting against a draconian policy that would make playing wind instruments on the streets of Camden illegal

Kazoos, voices, violins, morris dancers and trombones joined the throng of peaceful protesters

Kazoos, voices, violins, morris dancers and trombones joined the throng of peaceful protesters

Jonny Walker challenges Camden Council to rewrite a fair policy for buskers

Jonny Walker challenges Camden Council to rewrite a fair policy for buskers

ASAP's Jonny Walker in action

ASAP’s Jonny Walker in action

Camden Council propose to make morris dancing illegal on the streets of Camden, so ASAP invited...

Camden Council propose to make morris dancing illegal on the streets of Camden, so ASAP invited…

A morris dancer joins in the protest to Keep Streets Live in Camden

A morris dancer joins in the protest to Keep Streets Live in Camden

ASAP Director, Jonny Walker makes an effusive political speech about keeping public space open to creativity

ASAP Director, Jonny Walker makes an effusive political speech about keeping public space open to creativity

ASAP's Associate Director, Philippa Morgan Walker

ASAP’s Associate Director, Philippa Morgan Walker

Artists and musicians joined the peaceful protest and entertained crowds of smiling onlookers

Artists and musicians joined the peaceful protest and entertained crowds of smiling onlookers

Wind instruments would be illegal in the borough of Camden, if this legislation goes through...

Wind instruments would be illegal in the borough of Camden, if this legislation goes through…

The CKO performing the Star Wars Death March

The CKO performing the Star Wars Death March