Musicians will take to the streets for Busker's Day 2018. The event will occur from May 19 to 20 on Bloomington street corners and at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market.
“Busker’s Day is meant to amplify what is already happening in Bloomington,” Jake Braunecker, founder of Busker’s Day and lead singer of the band Wildflower Union, said. “This is a day on which a lot of people who are interested in street performance perform on the street all day long.”
Braunecker said he organized the first Busker’s Day in 2012 to encourage people to enjoy public spaces and feel free to be creative in public.
There will be a group jam from 2 to 6 p.m. outside Soma Coffeehouse on the corner of Kirkwood Avenue and Grant Street, and the Farmers’ Market will be packed with musicians, Braunecker said.
“The history of busking has to do with being in need of money,” Braunecker said. “To me, busking is anything in which you share some expression of yourself in a public sense.”
Braunecker said he spent many years in Bloomington playing music and never asked for money. He played as a way to enjoy music and make friends, he said.
“Busking is much more about creating community and much less about making money,” Braunecker said. “It’s cool to be able to do the two at the same time.”
Braunecker is currently living in France and organizing the event remotely. He said he does not have the right to perform on the street in the city he's living in, Saint Etienne.
If he goes into the city center and begins to play music, he'll be stopped in five to 10 minutes, Braunecker said.
Despite some restrictions, buskers in Bloomington are free to perform in most places and at most times of the day.
“Another reason why I want to keep Busker’s Day alive is to help people in Bloomington realize they are pretty much completely free to make any kind of art performance in a public place at any time,” Braunecker said. “It’s a beautiful thing and it’s something I miss a lot right now.”
Despite having busked hundreds of times, Braunecker said he feels nervous every time. He said he always asks himself who he is to be so loud and subject people to what he sings.
“Then I come to the reality that I love hearing music and seeing performers on the street,” Braunecker said. “Why wouldn’t I be one of those people to help make the world a little bit more like how I want to see it?”
A local old-time music group, Fiddle ‘n’ Feet, composed of percussive dancer Tamara Loewenthal, fiddle player Jamie Gans and banjo player Jack Laskey, will busk on Busker’s Day at the Farmers' Market.
“I have been a busker since 1982 or 1983,” Loewenthal said. “That gives me about 35 years of busking.”
Loewenthal said she never feels nervous before busking because no one has paid in advance to see the performance and people do not have an expectation of what they should be seeing.
“One of the things busking has taught me is to feel free with my improvisational licks because it is a great space to improvise,” Loewenthal said.
Lowenthal said the hardest thing about busking is finding a place to set up and making sure she's not antagonizing a business or vendor. It is important to keep a positive relationship with people in the community.
Loewenthal said she sees busking as street theater. In the process of busking, you are welcoming people in because you are not on stage. You can really see the folks you are performing for, Loewenthal said.
“There is not an imaginary line between you and the audience,” Loewenthal said. “People feel welcomed into the art form because there is no barrier.”
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