10th annual Buskers Festival is this Sunday!

On Sunday – Sept 18th – 2011,  11am – 5:30 pm at the Pike Place Market come on down to Pike Place Market for an enjoyable day of raw creative talent – yours for the pickin…

Ladies and Gentlemen, Music lovers of all genre’s. The Pike Place Market Busker’s Guild would like to announce their 10th Annual Buskers fest on Sunday 18th Sept, 2011. The event will host a line of talented musicians and performers that will be on 3 stages within The Pike Place Market. The shows will begin at 11:AM and go through 5:30PM. Come one come all, to hear and see the best in Seattle Street Artistry. Free To The Public, come show your support by attending and you may find yourself singing along. There will be numerous items offered for purchase like T-Shirts, Posters and CD’s that help to benefit this renowned event and make this a remarkable and memorable happening! Bring your smiles!

Jim Page on the Bob Rivers Show

Buskers do it in the street!

Nathan Lake and a couple of other photographers have recently begun a project to photograph the buskers around the Pacific Northwest.  Since many of the pike market buskers are being photographed we wanted to post a link to their website…

Doing it in the Street –www.doingitonthestreet.com

This project is in it’s infancy so the website is still rudimentary, but will be upgraded over the next few weeks. Nathan and co. will be in the Market at least a couple weekends a month over the summer.

Date set for 2011 Festival

logo for 10th annual Pike Market Busker Festival

10th annual Pike Place Market Busker Festival

2011 Pike Place Market BUSKER’S Festival will be on
Sunday September 18th

If you are interested in being a performer in the festival this year. Please feel free to submit your application. You can download the Performer’s application here.
2011 PPM Busker Festival Performers Application

you will need to print it and fill it out and mail it back to:
Pike Market Performers Guild (PMPG)
1916 Pike Place   #12-7
Seattle, WA   98101-1097

Or email it to:

Please let us know if you’d like to volunteer to help out with the festival!

Pike Place Market centennial celebration (from 2007)

Street performing is not a crime!

 A story by Reggie Miles (fulltime busker at Pike Place Market)

Reggie Miles

“I was at the Pike Place Market yesterday. As I went to check on the status of my vehicle, I ran into Tommy Dean, a street performer who regularly performs at the Market. Tommy is a multi-instrumentalist but while on the street, he is most often seen playing acoustic guitar and singing. He writes a lot of his own songs but also offers a big variety of his favorite covers. Tommy was a bit upset. He explained that he was just kicked out of the location where he was playing. That location is one of only three at the Market, where performers can play, that offers adequate shelter from harsh weather conditions. It was one of those days, with periods of windy rainy weather, that makes those more sheltered locations quickly fill up with performers, all waiting their turn in line for the chance to play a one hour set.

Tommy had to wait several hours for his turn to play at The Desmone Bridge location. He had played only two songs, when phone calls from certain vendors, that were set up in that location, caused the acting Market authority to appear in front of him. T

Tommy Dean

ommy is a sensitive soul. As, I suppose, all artists are, who choose to put their talent on the line as their sole means of survival. I heard that Tommy had been ousted from that location in the past, allegedly, because his acoustic volume was a hinderance to the crafters being able to converse with their customers. When Tommy was approached by the Market authority figure, he quickly packed up his things and just left the area. Perhaps, he feared that he wouldn’t be able to adequately defend himself. In my mind, he shouldn’t have to do so. We have the right to be there, despite any rules in place at The Market that might indicate otherwise. Here’s how the complaint system at the Market works. The authorities at the Market never allow those being accused of some wrong doing to know who their accusers are. The authorities, often, don’t even know who is making the accusations. No names are required to be noted, when lodging a complaint. All you have to do is dial a number on your cell phone and complain, anonymously, using the one standard blanket reason that the Market offers vendors at that location. “That street performer is too loud!” Before he left, I told Tommy that he should contact Magic Mike.

Of Late, Mike has been a key figure in the battle for our First Amendment rights to freedom of expression, as street performers, in Seattle. He won his last two court cases, with The City of Seattle and The Seattle Center. Mike challenged their authority to enact rules that
(1) force street performers to obtain a license,
(2) that dictate where street performers could and could not perform on public property,
(3) that restrict how closely street performers could perform to a gathered group of pedestrians on public property… (see Berger vs The City of Seattle). Essentially, the court stated, that neither The City of Seattle, nor their hired management group at The Seattle Center (a public park) had the authority to create rules restricting our First Amendment rights. Period! So, while public property can be used for commercial reasons, our First Amendment rights cannot be legislated away. The next time you’re at The Pike Place Market, check this out. If you face west, where the west end of Pine Street dead ends into Pike Place, you’ll notice a large sign mounted on top of the roof. It’s lit up with BIG red neon letters that boldly state, PUBLIC MARKET.

If you have trouble finding the above publicly displayed signage, try facing west from the corner of First and Pike St. and you’ll find another similar sign just as big and brightly lit. The Market accepts public funds to maintain itself. When an entity accepts public dollars as part of their operating and maintenance budgets, they are considered a public property. First Amendment rights are the law on all public property. All unconstitutional laws are invalid. That means, that the courts do not recognize them as being legitimate. No one acting in violation of an unconstitutional law can be criminalized for doing so. Sadly, the flip side of sharing music and other forms of entertainment with the public, in public spaces as a street performer, is that one often has to face ignorance of the law. It has been establish via numerous law suits across the country, that the First Amendment of the Constitution considers street performing a constitutionally protected Freedom of Expression right. As such, it is not something that authorities can enact legislation against. Any such legislation is by definition unconstitutional.

I went over to where the incident had just happened with Tommy and while trying to ascertain what exactly had transpired. Two craft vendors positioned themselves nearby. One was an older woman. She’s a regular vendor at the Market who always sets up in the same location, on the bridge and continues to lodge complaints against the performers there. She walked all the way away from her booth, to where I was talking to the Market representative, in the street, to thank him for getting rid of Tommy. She even threw back her head and laughed a big belly laugh about it. Now, I’ve experienced some callous, shallow, petty, compassionless attitudes being displayed by some folks during my 56 years on this planet but that spiteful utterance, by that short, round, old woman, was one of the most heartless sounds that I’ve ever had the displeasure of experienceing.

This whole exchange caused me to wonder. If this woman could jump out from behind her craft booth space, to trot all the way out to the street, at least 100 feet away from her stuff, just to gloat about Tommy not continuing his set, then, obviously there wasn’t anything wrong with the way her legs functioned. If she was having so much trouble communicating with her customers from the opposite side of her table, while Tommy was singing, why didn’t she simply stand up and walk around to where her customer was standing and interact with them more closely? Was that too difficult? Was it easier to just make the complaint call and blame someone else for her lack of motivation to engage her customer? It must have been. She sure seemed happy, in her mean spirited way, that her actions played a role in causing Tommy to give up his set.

The other vendor was a man that I didn’t recognize. He took the opportunity to then offer his complaint about Tommy. He said, in a recent exchange with Tommy, that Tommy responded negatively to him when he approached Tommy about lowering his volume. He explained that he feared the volume of Tommy’s singing could damage his ears. I balked and responded, that no one playing an acoustic guitar and singing could permanently damage anyone’s hearing. He went on to say, that he couldn’t adequately communicate to his customer that the price on his craft item was $5. I couldn’t help myself at that point. I pulled an ink pen out of my pocket and held it up so that he could see it and said, “You see this little thing here? It’s called, a pen. You can use it to write numbers on a piece of paper. Then you can show the paper to your customers, when they have a question about how much something costs.” He retorted by offering, “Well, we have lots of different things for sale.” I answered with, “Ya know, I can write an awful lot of numbers with this pen.” I then questioned, “You mean to tell me that you’re a vendor but you don’t put prices on the merchandise you sell?” These are some of the same people, who, earlier this year, tried to get a new rule passed, that would have banned anyone from singing political songs, or songs that were religious in nature, at that location.

Singing political songs in public is not a crime!
Singing religious songs in public is not a crime!

Have you had enough of freedom of speech?
Preachers preachin’ ‘bout Jesus and tryin’ to reach
The blind compassionless souls that they deem lost
While they beg for spare change to cover the cost
You want to make the world your own private retail lot
Where the haves can have more and the poor can have not
Where every hour of every day
The downtrodden pay to view rich folks at play
You’ve had it with freedom of expression on the street
You dream of a utopian paradise complete
Where the well heeled buy your wares with new shoes on their feet
And disenfranchised eyes you’ll never chance to meet
And impoverished souls you won’t have to greet
Oh what a world that would be, how perfectly sweet
And you don’t care who knows how you feel inside
You’re complaints you’re never too careful to hide
Yes, the haves want another big slice of the pie
They tell the poor that there’s more in the sweet by and by
And me I’m just trying like hell not cry
I’m singin’ and trying like hell not to cry
Then let he, without sin, cast the first stone
It’s easy and soon you’ll feel right at home
Where the poor and the hungry will never more roam
Does it comfort you to know that you’re not alone?
And when judgment day comes and your deeds are all told
How you squandered your time chasin’ riches and gold
As you breathe your last breath, will you then realize?
Will it take your whole life to open your eyes?
Can’t you see without love and compassion for all
We hurry our own inevitable fall
Till nothing is left on this cold frozen ball
Not even the memory of life to recall
By: Reggie Miles

Once a Busker …

Some things never change for singer-songwriter Glen Hansard. Hansard, the frontman of  “The Frames”, ”Swell Season” and the star of the academy award winning movie “Once” was recently in town to be interviewed for the Seattle based magazine, Fretboard Journal. While being interviewd Hansard  found his way to the only logical place in Seattle for a seasoned veteran of busking to tell his story - Pike Place Market of course! He even ended up playing a set out there and jamming with our very own Sleepy Joe! Read more here.

Rowboat is home- Busking is his trade

Meet “Three Stars”…

A local busker who lives on a 14ft aluminum rowboat strategically located under the concrete pillars of the Highway 520 bridge. His neighbors are beavers, muskrats, wood ducks, eagles (lots of eagles!), blue herons, green herons, mallards, Canada geese, cormorants, kingfishers, raccoons, even coyotes, now and then”.

Three Stars lives with his beloved dog and companion Lulu. He tells about growing up in Massachusetts and Florida under less than nurturing family situations and explains that  his Mohawk ancestry is where his preferred name,  Three Stars comes from.

Three Stars has a vocation as a street musician and says that it suits him just fine. In addition to his income as a busker he receives $636 a month from the government’s SSI program for the aged and disabled.  He learned to play the guitar on his own, and has traveled around the country playing on the streets for money. He tells how he ended up here back in 1980, when “This hippie in New Orleans told me about Seattle, said they wouldn’t persecute you for playing in the streets”

Some of you might recall seeing Three Stars and Lulu on the sidewalk outside of Pacific Place in downtown Seattle.

Read the full article from the seattle times here…
Three Stars and Lulu - buskers


…as widely as possible. We want to inspire people with the bravery and dedication of street performers who wake up every morning and expose their souls to the world in a raw and passionate way. We hope to relate the audience to their struggle and allow people to appreciate their talent if only for a moment in our otherwise busy lives.

This project will only be funded if at least $7,500 is pledged by Tue. March 8th – please visit the website and pledge – even a $10 donation will help…

Freedom of Speech

Hey guys, Paisley here – it’s been a while since I posted – but this came up so I thought I’d get busy: I was busking a few months ago in Pioneer Square and noticed another performer getting hassled by security. It disturbed me that his act was cherry-picked to be censored so I asked him to send me an email telling me what happened . His name is Kalan Sherrard and here is his story…

Let’s see….
Last summer I was down at Pioneer Square one night getting ready to do a puppet show right before the Art Walk was about to pick up, about 5:30, and not having performed much there before, I stopped to ask the advice of a chatty-looking pair by a gallery, about where I could count on crowds and masses to coalesce. “Over there,” said the squat blonde bourgeoisie “but you need a permit,” as if in threat. So, nonchalant and easy, I said “Oh, I don’t really give a fuck about permits… Thanks!” and she kind of scoffs and I go on my way.

An hour and a half later, after several shows singing christmas carols and trashing little babydolls faces in the concrete for america in my jumpsuit, I took a break to wander around the galleries and check out what the more traditional visual artists were up to. Suitcase strapped to my back, I headed into fancy shop and found myself immediately accosted by the same fierce woman demanding I leave her gallery: “You can’t wear that in here! Get out!” and suddenly her gallant gallery assistant is there backing her up yelling me out the door, real confusing, what’s going on, right?

So I kind of brushed it off, and kept on peeking through the halls, but then when I got back to the grind later on, I found myself moving into the pavement between this angry lady’s and another gallery – the only really conceivable space where there was any kind of audience far enough between the other street musicians that I wouldn’t distract from anyone else’s thunder. Within two minutes there was a security guard there telling me I had to move somewhere else. Is this private property? Is it public property, I can be here, right? I’m not obstructing anybody, I can do what I want here right? People are digging it, I said. He told me the lady didn’t want me there, and suggested I move over to a place where there were no people, but persistently would not point to a place that would be acceptable for me to perform, and kept telling me that the police were on their way. I determined to keep a grip on my freedom of speech despite my philosophical contradictions around entitlement and “rights” and in half an hour, when the cops arrived to mediate the situation (they ran my ID, asked me a bunch of questions, and generally seemed to like me) it turned out the woman, who refused to talk to me in person, was accusing me of verbally abusing her, of “cussing her out” and was nearly demanding a restraining order. Eventually, they let me be, to go off busking into the night, but cost me an hour and my mood.

What can I not do: Suggest the sexuality of demonic shapes? Criticize the capitalist status quo? Invoke the image of violence? Holler? Curse in public (What are the words I can’t say? And how can I hope to apologize?)

Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t get evicted from performance spheres so much if my work wasn’t so topically transgressive or anarcha-feminist, or whatever you want to call it: if I just sang patriotic ditties to the sitar, I’d probably last longer most places, but I’m also sure of a continual and systemic discrimination against artists who determine to present outside of the institution. I’ve been hitchhiking around the country for the past six months now, doing street performances to sustain myself, probably for about $3 an hour, and it’s persistently telling to me how much folks embedded in the system will go out of their way to mess with and make life difficult for me, a passionate anti-money artist who’s trying to foster community and a kind of cultural awareness in the dead zones of this country.