The art of street performing – also known as busking – is regularly on show to shoppers on Lincoln High Street. Musicians and other performers make the city a happier and more vibrant (not to mention louder!) place.
Some buskers can be seen several times a week and you might recognise them. Some only perform occasionally, touring around cities in the area.
But who are the people behind the microphones? And why do they busk? LSJ reporter, Sam Atkin, finds out.
A regular on Lincoln’s High Street, “Music Man Phil Gray” is a 62-year-old guitarist and vocalist who sings covers from Bob Dylan to Bob Marley. He can be seen first in the video clip below performing Dylan’s classic “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
“At least twice a week I’ll be out [performing] but in good weather I’ll be here all weekend. If there isn’t good weather you’ll find me under a duvet at home” Phil jokes.
“Busking is an opportunity to express myself. I love music and I like playing music and busking is the most immediate audience you can get!”
Some street performers do what they do because they like to be in front of an audience but others, such as Matty Haynes, 24, see significant financial gain.
Guitarist and singer Matty said “I busk for a living now. I perform most weeks, and I’ve been on a few tours but I started in Lincoln and Nottingham busking. Now the weather’s picking up a bit, why not come and perform. People are friendly, I can make a bit of money, I want to share my music.”
Matty’s repertoire includes a range of both covers and original tracks, one of which was recently featured on BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s “Introducing” section as their track of the week. He also recently performed as a guest at Home Lincoln’s X Factor Auditions.
Matty can be heard as the second performer in the above video.
Not everyone is a guitarist and vocalist however. Richard Silvester, 57, is a violinist who busks in the city’s cathedral quarter.
Richard uses his performances to advertise his own music tuition. “Busking lets me find people to teach musical instruments. I like playing outdoors, it’s a good way to meet friends.”
I found Richard near Lincoln Cathedral in brilliant sunshine. The weather has an enormous influence on the amount of buskers that you can find. More sunshine naturally means a bigger audience for buskers. Richard says “It’s much nicer to be playing out here than indoors.” He can be seen third in the video.
Some performers come from other nearby cities to busk in Lincoln when the sun is out. I spoke to singer and guitarist Marita Metelia, who is from Nottingham.
“[Lincoln] is different to other places I’ve busked. It’s a friendly place. I came here because my friend told me about it. It’s got an openness about it.”
On why she enjoys busking, Marita said “I like the freedom of it, I like the independence and the people that I meet have lots of interesting backgrounds. Sometimes you’ll sing a song and you don’t realise who’s listening and it effects them in positive ways.” Marita is featured fourth in the above video.
Lincoln’s wealth of busking talent enhances the atmosphere of the city and brings unique performances daily. While some do it for financial gain or promotion, the underlying reason to busk seems to be the love of playing to an audience, and Lincoln is a great place to do it.