Alexa Allen’s Busking Adventures – Week 1 – Busking Top Tips

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Well I have well and truly popped my very ripe busking cherry! On the streets of Torquay and Totnes no less! In public! Oooh I say!

My adventures began on April 25th when I went to pick up my brand spanking new red Roland Street Cube amp from Billy Summer, who had responded to a Facebook call out by me where I was suggesting to play private gigs for donations so I could get the equipment needed for busking. Billy purchased the amp for me asap, on a payback-without-pressure deal. Nice!

roland street cube

Oh, and to play the Sunday afternoon main stage slot at Love Summer Festival this August! Well, OK then!

And then I realised I’d gone and got meself a bleedin amp! Shit! And then I double realised that that would mean that I’d actually have to go and do it. This is where I started feeling super anxious.

My first few days after getting my amp involved me sitting inside tweaking dials and playing songs to myself with my headphones on, mystifying myself at all the sounds that can be created for the guitar and the vocals. I’ve never had an amp before. This was a whole new world opening up. I started getting excited and the anxiety started dwindling. Oh, and the weather was shit, so I couldn’t get outside yet anyway.

I waited for a good forecast and then armed with friends I went and positioned myself outside Offshore on Torquay harbour and proceeded to play through their lunchtime spot.

I was nervous and excited and all comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time.

My First Busking EVER!

The first person to put a coin in my case, during my first song, was a wee little 2 year old girl in a red coat, smiling at me! I felt blessed! What a trade off! I’ll sing my heart out and you can feel it and smile at me, offer me coins! Chocolate biscuits! Chocolate eggs! Cups of tea! Words of appreciation! Awesome sketches and artwork! These are some of the beautiful appreciations I have received so far this week!

After playing my whole repertoire (minus about another 8 of my own that I need to polish up) I disclosed to all the seated patrons that this was my first time busking EVER! I got a cheer and a load of clapping!!! I liked that! And they did too!

I’ve actually been quite astounded at how well I am seemingly being received. I am having people stop and listen. I am having people take the time to come over and ask me about my songs, to tell me how it’s affected them, to tell me thank you, to ask me where I play etc. I have been having people photographing and videoing me and sharing it on social media, sharing because they have been moved some way.

And meanwhile I am just sitting there doing what I do.

I cannot sit and play my music to myself. I write and craft a new song and then when it’s done I don’t ever really play it again for myself, unless I’m practising it or sharing it. I’m not sure why this is. When I’m totally on my own my playing is about the creative process; I want to create fresh new words and melodies and concoctions. And then I prefer repeating them to new ears. It’s an avenue of expression for me. I’m speaking about something. I’m telling stories. I already know the story myself. I want to share it with new others! (my human design is all about ‘sharing’ with the collective)

What I’ve Learned So Far About Busking – Top Tips!

I have learned so much in these first few days –

  • Have a busking check list when you’re getting everything together in the morning. You don’t want to get to your destination and be missing a vital piece of equipment.

  • I can sit on my amp, but it is an arse ache! Put a cushion in your bag or aim to play somewhere where they can lend you a chair. Take a cushion anyway just in case. It’s needed! (Or a fold up pack away chair!)

  • Have a granny trolley to put your amp and gear in. It’s a million times easier wheeling it than carrying it. (and I don’t have a car)

  • If you’re like me and you carry copious amounts of weird shit around with you (bottles of alkalised water, nutribullet blends, pots of home-made food, books and journals, blood testing kit, diabetic needles, bananas, dates etc etc) put another easily accessible bag into your trolley. I take out all my bits and bobs out and put them in this shopper so that I can see and grab stuff easily, rather than routing around in the depths of the granny trolley, which is nicely pitched supporting the lid of my guitar case anyway.

  • If you are reading from a song book, have some heavy objects that you can hold the pages down with when it’s windy. Some of my songs I don’t fully know off by heart yet, and when the page blows over I get lost!

  • Make sure your microphone is screwed on properly. It sucks when it drops off mid song!!

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your audience about your sound levels. ‘Do I need to up the guitar?’ ‘Can you hear me?’ etc x People like to get involved. Sometimes!

  • Massage your hands and arms. They may get to aching a bit.

  • Soak your finger tips in vinegar. This’ll help harden them.

  • If any of your plucky fingers get blistery, try micro-pore tape. This may get in the way, but it may help as well. It’s helped me.

  • If you get a blister gently pierce it with a sterilised needle on the edge furthest away from string contact. It’ll go down over night.

  • Make sure you have fully charged replacement batteries in your case and aim to be using rechargables, it’s more ecologically friendly. Always have a second load recharging at home.

  • If you’re wanting to stretch out time and take it easy a little, just dilly dally around on your fretboard whilst you give your voice a rest!

  • Dare yourself and stretch your songs out with some creative twists and turns, sing loud!

  • Get up and stretch. Or if you’re like me, get up, stick your headphones on and rave out to some excellent house music to shift your energy!!

  • Ask the Arch Angels to be with you! I have an Arch Angel poster in my case, invoking them all!

  • Put interesting stuff in your case! I’ve put in artwork people have done of me, a big thank you sign, another sign saying “ORIGINAL MUSIC” with my Facebook details.

  • business cardMake some business cards and pop them in your case. People will want to know who you are and where you are and where they can find out more about you. Let them know and give them something with your details on. And give them stuff to find when they’re looking for you – website, Facebook page, YouTube videos etc. People LOVE videos! 85% of information on the internet is absorbed through video.

  • Intend to be serving, creating, sharing and inspiring joy, peace and love.

  • Know where the toilets are! And don’t drink tea or coffee before you play. If you’re concerned about toilet breaks and leaving your stuff ask staff (if your playing outside a premise) If they are cool with you asking them to watch your pitch if you need the loo. Then plan it when you can see they are not rushed off their feet. Be very discerning with who you trust otherwise.

  • Stop and talk to people but be discerning of when you need to crack on again. Just start playing. Some folk can go on and on and on . . . this can be a leak on your energy. Ask Arch Angel Michael to protect your energy and zip yourself up. Simply say “I need to play now.” and play.

  • Get eye contact with people. Wink and smile and acknowledge them acknowledging you!

  • Sing with your eyes open and your eyes closed. Go in and out. Don’t get too lost in either space!

  • Do it because you are channelling the Universe. Do it because it is making you feel good to be giving in a songful way. Do it and be aware that you are reaching into peoples souls, whether they are aware of it or not. Do NOT be discouraged by anyone who doesn’t seem to notice or appreciate you. Know that your vibration is at work regardless.

  • Know when you need to have a break and treat yourself to a taxi if you haven’t got the energy to wheel your equipment all the way back home!!! (note to self!)

  • With any earnings treat yourself to something to say thank you to yourself, like a good massage, a beautiful meal, some healthy supplements, a good massage. Did I say a good massage?!

  • Think about what’s happening and write about it. Capture it. Sing it. There’s new material to be birthed always.

  • Play original material if you have it and if you don’t have it see if you can get inspired to create it. I am finding that people are loving my original material.

  • Record and have CD’s available in your case and have them on show. I don’t have this yet but if I did I know they’d be going.

  • Wherever you’re playing check if you need a permit and if so, then get one.

  • Stay protected from the sun. Where a hat, long sleeves, possibly fingerless gloves and don’t be facing the sun. I have had skin cancer and am very aware that I need to protect myself, and not from smothering myself in chemical sun cream solutions either. Best to be out in it, but shaded or protected by light comfortable clothes. Yesterday just a small part of my wrist burned. I am going to make some hand/wrist protectors from long white socks!

  • Always make a little prayer of gratitude before you start stating “Thank you for allowing me to give my heart and soul today and for helping all these beautiful beings receive me in a way that is for the highest and greatest good of all!”

  • Know when you’ve done enough and chill!

Busking Equals New Opportunities

In my first week I have been invited to sing the lyrics to someone’s song that they are recording. I have been invited to sing in Totnes on Saturday 7th May as part of the Totnes Celebration day. It’ll be busking, down the bottom of town. I have been asked to be interviewed and to play on two different local radio stations and I have been asked to play a slot up at the Buccaneer in Babbacombe. Not bad for my first 4 days. All of this is showing me that there’s something I’m doing that people are enjoying, and it doesn’t even feel like me. It more feels like life is saying “Right madam! I need to express through you, out in public, because that will be good for the world. Now GO DO IT”

So I am doing it.

Thanks to all the people who have come and seen and supported me this first week x

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