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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
reggie miles How many wandering musicians can't find a session? (77* d) RE: How many wandering musicians/singers can 25 May 11

I have the same problem here in Seattle, only with buskers. Our big annual festival, The Folklife Festival, used to be a great place to run into old friends and have an impromptu jam. Now there are hundreds of professional buskers using up all the room. Since the only reason the festival exists is because the performers play for free, it's irritating to not be able to play on the grounds because there's a bunch of people who didn't sign up for the festival, but are making lots of money being there. (John P)

John P, as I am one of those of whom you are complaining about, a street performer, allow me to speak up on behalf of those who decide to offer their Folk music on the grounds of this public park, during this free event, at this "supposed" Folk festival, on Memorial Day weekend. First, perhaps I should ask if you actually believe in our Constitution and the rights it affords to all of us Americans, like the right to freedom of expression. Because if you don't believe in this principle, that countless thousands of Americans have given their lives to protect, then perhaps you ought to be looking for answers to your particular complaint in a different part of the world. maybe there's a country out there that has a system of individual rights that's more suited to your particular concept of personal freedom.

To be fair, I should point out, that you are not alone in your attitude. In fact, a street performer had to take the City of Seattle and the Seattle Center, to court to fight for his First Amendment right, to freedom of expression, in order to freely perform in public, at this public park, The Seattle Center, where this event happens to take place. He won his case in Superior Court about 9 years ago but that didn't stop the City of Seattle from trying to have the decision overturned. In 2009, 8 of 11 judges in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case and voted, once again, in favor of the street performer, not the City of Seattle! In fact, the court forced the City of Seattle to pay the street performer thousands of dollars.

Allow me to offer you the link to the previously mentioned court case once again, as I did in the thread you started about the 2011 NW Folklife Festival. I'm guessing that you missed my recent post. You seem to genuinely feel anguish about this matter. Perhaps the information, that the judges in this case brought to light in course of making their decision, might open your eyes as to the reasons why our Constitution upholds such freedoms. Here, once again, is that link.

Let me add, that this event has lost a great deal of the Folk flavor, that it used to have, a long time ago. Every year, this event moves farther away from what it once was. These days, the organizers of this event are more concerned about the money pouring into their coffers, via the vendors who offer their crafts and food at this event, and pay a bundle of cashola to do so, than they do about those who offer their music and dance for free.

John, come on now, "hundreds of professional buskers"? Please! I've been going to this event for decades and there have never been "hundreds of professional buskers" there. Heck, I've been street performing for decades in the Seattle area and I don't even consider myself a "professional busker", a pre-fessional, yes, but professional, I don't think so.

I rarely hear those two terms "professional" and "busker" used together in the same sentence, much less right next to one another way you have. The concept of a "professional busker" sounds like an oxymoron to me. I think before we go any further, it might be helpful and kind of fun, to understand the meaning of the term you are using here. Having clearer definitions, about what a "professional busker" is, would certainly help me and everyone else understand your point of view.

Let's see what Wikipedia has to say about the term "professional".

A professional is a member of a vocation founded upon specialized educational training...

Let me explain right here, that I have absolutely no specialized educational training having to do with anything that I offer as either a musician, a fingerpickin' bottleneck slide guitarist, a singer, a songwriter, a storyteller, a poet, an entertainer, a comic or an instrument builder.

...The word professional traditionally means a person who has obtained a degree in a professional field...

I have no degree in this particular field of interest but folks have said that I'm outstanding in my field. That's probably because they usually see me... out standing in my field. ;o) (cue rim shot)

...The term professional is used more generally to denote a white collar working person,...

I don't think that anyone would confuse street performing with a white collar endeavor. Though, I do own a few soiled white shirts. ;o)

...or a person who performs commercially in a field typically reserved for hobbyists or amateurs...

This last phrase, "a person who performs commercially in a field typically reserved for hobbyists or amateurs", seems to have some bearing. Though, I would not consider entertainment, musical or otherwise, a field 'typically' reserved for either hobbyists or amateurs. In fact, via my experience as a street performer for more than three decades, I can tell you, that a great many of those who perform on the street are actually amateurs and hobbyists, who have regular jobs and careers, and merely bring their talents out on the street occasionally, when they have the time and/or inclination to do so, like on weekend holidays, such as Memorial Day weekend.

...In western nations, such as the United States, the term "professional" commonly describes highly educated,...

I do not believe that the vast majority of street performers that I know can be classified as being highly educated. If they were, chances are, they'd be busy using that highly educated status in more fruitful pursuits.

...mostly salaried workers,...

The street performers that I know are not salaried workers.

...who enjoy considerable work autonomy,...

Yes, we, who street perform, generally, do enjoy this self governing state

...a comfortable salary,...

I know of no street performers that receive a salary of any kind in return for their efforts and I seriously doubt that any street performers would agree that what they receive as donations might be classified as being anything close to the adjective 'comfortable'.

...and are commonly engaged in creative and intellectually challenging work...

Yes, I would definitely describe street performing as creative and intellectually challenging

...Less technically, it may also refer to a person having impressive competence in a particular activity...

If their talents are being touted as "having impressive competence", many street performers tend to move away from being purely street performers, to perform in more traditional venues.

Because of the personal and confidential nature of many professional services and thus the necessity to place a great deal of trust in them, most professionals are held up to strict ethical and moral regulations.

I'm not certain if this last bit has any relevance to street performing. It also doesn't seem to apply to many of those in the field of "professional" entertainment, the banking industry, politics, or any number of other "professional" practices that come to mind.

And John, just so you know, I have volunteered my energies and talents to this event for decades. The last time that I applied to perform at this event, in 2009, I was turned down.

I had also hosted an incredibly successful workshop at this event for six consecutive years. I had about 100 attendees show up at my last workshop. Again, in 2009, my efforts to continue to offer my free workshop, at this event, were turned down by those organizing this event. So, please stop painting street performers at this event with the broad brush you are using to demean their presence and activities.

If you want more space to join with your friends in a casual jam, then you should be aiming your negative remarks at those who deserve them, those organizing this event. They could easily turn down the volume of the many stages on the grounds and reduce the over all din that everyone has to face but somehow this simple maneuver, to make the festival more audibly comfortable for everyone, has escaped all notice. Even when the comment arises year after year, they just keep turning a deaf ear to it. Reducing this volume would make it easier for you and your acoustic friends to find places to get together to share some tunes. As it is now, it's just one big audio bleed and cacophony.

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