Busking in European cities – Part 1

Let me start a new topic let’s say busking-oriented. What you have to know before busking in any european countries… When touring, I always want to give a try, it’s always a good way to feel the ambiance and meet people, in other conditions than in a concert place.

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A nice busking session by 0°C last winter, I even got a pastry !

Each country has its own rules or regulations regarding street performances such as busking. If for instance, UK is a quite “busker-friendly” country (see this older post  ), it may be another story in other countries…

Let’s start today with Greece ! Greece is actually a good example to convince you (and myself) that it’s always usefull to know the local regulations.

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The local police station main door !

I must say I’ve been busking so many times in the centre of the same city, which is really a pleasure as people are extremely friendly with buskers. They smile at you, even old retired people give you coins, although most of them got their pension reduced by a half because of Troïka.

But last time, after 15 minutes busking, police asked me whether I had an authorisation !! I’m almost sure I saw the police ten times at least in this street ! As well as many buskers, and without any problem ! And none of my greek friends ever told me about these rules…

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It used to be one of my favourite places for busking.

They asked me to follow them to the police office. A bit rough in the beginning, just treated as a beggar, and I don’t mean a beggar deserves being treated this way even though they got much more friendly at the end, when they realised I was not busking in order to bother people, but mostly for my own pleasure. “But you’re selling CD’s, that’s illegal !” “Don’t worry, I haven’t sold any !” I said… I wonder if the right reply would have been “Do you get a receipt when you leave a banknote on the icon of the Virgin in a church ?” but I might have gone into deeper troubles ;) !

After one hour and a half filling forms, they kept… 1€60 as a proof, and told me I’d receive news from the court (Yes !) within… two years ! OK, nothing dramatic, but if you’d like to try busking in Greece, please ask for your agreement from local authorities before !

§Yann

Recording/mixing another (irish folk) band ?

A few weeks ago, time had come for us to go to the east of France and get our prize from the Jotinette contest, which actually was a perfect excuse for us to go and meet musicians from this area ! Not only we met them and had great time there, we even recorded a demo for one of their bands called Hop Corner. They play traditionnal Irish folk music.

I thought it could be quite a challenge as well as a valuable experience to record and mix a band in an extremely acoustic setup (fiddle, irish flute, bouzouki/guitar), which is somehow far opposite from what I am used to do with Astrakan Project…

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The recording studio, actually a nice room dedicated to music ! Look at this gorgeous wooden floor.

The recording was made “live”, with stage microphones, actually what was available in the house !

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Sam & Zsófi, actually the landlords of this amazing house !

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Julien & Sam.

It was actually a nice and extremely friendly recording session, followed by a couple of days mixing / mastering…

And this is what it sounds like, we hope you will like it as much as we do !

You can hear their full 5-track demo from their website, and it really worth it : http://hopcorner.fr/

…and follow/like them on Facebook ! ;)

The right gavotte tempo !

Today, as I was working on a “gavotte” tune, that I hadn’t listened to for ages, I grabbed my fiddle and quickly recorded a couple of rounds of the tune. Then, I found an original recording in my database…

…and pasted it in my DAW in order to check if my tempo was right… And this is what I get !

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The upper track is my fiddle recording, the lower one the original singer recording. Can you see how my tempo is exactly the same ??? Unfortunately, you won’t get a chance to hear my recording right now…but at least, you can see the tempo is right !! ;)

§Yann

Breton music workshop

We had a nice session with La Contrebande, a nice folk band from the east of France. As they would like to add breton dances to their repertoire, we had a nice workshop about those deep rooted breton dances called “gavotte” and “plinn”…

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There were actually many fiddlers there…

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Simone and I are looking forward to hear the breton sets they will shorlty set up !

You can listen to their band there :

And here is their Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/lacontrebande.bal

§Yann

An old memory from our *first* gig ever in London!

Look what just popped up! A souvenir from our first London gig during our first UK tour, almost a year ago… feels like ages and also feels like yesterday! Our big smile has probably to do with the awesome people we had met during that first tour that are now part of our lives – and also with the awesome gig we had performed in Ipswich the previous days.

I don’t know if any of you can tell the huge sound change on stage – we really can! It’s good to look back and feel we’ve moved forward that much. And also to imagine where we can be in maybe a year ahead? ;)

§Simone

A documentary about busking ?

Yes, everything may happen in this world ! We met Peppe Lovino last week as I was busking in Cardiff’s main street (Wales – UK), who is a student currently setting up an international documentary about busking.

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I must say that for musicians  – professionnal or not -, street busking is something pretty usual as well as recognised in the UK, also a reason why we distinguish “busking” from “begging”, which is supposed to be totally different.

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According to Peppe, buskers have in many cases very interesting and unusual experiences to share, which gives enough reasons and material to build a full documentary about it. This is a first rush of his footage :

You may have noticed that I mostly play irish music while busking, I indeed use this time to play some of my favourite irish tunes, and to intensively practice my irish fiddling under hard conditions (for example, the weather was freezing like hell, as you can see by the fact that I was wearing woolen gloves, specially designed and made for winter busking by Simone ;) !

§ Yann