Busking

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OMG Buskers! 5 Things you should do when you Spot them

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

This is for all those who are unfamiliar with the term and find themselves quite taken aback when they see a group of artists, props and instruments in hand, happily performing at street corners or railway stations. It can be quite bewildering, especially if it’s early in the morning, and you’re in a hurry to get to work. You see them there, singing and juggling away to glory and you wonder, “Who are these people and don’t they have jobs to go to?” More importantly, you’re unsure about what you’re supposed to do. Should you stop by, or will that look very uncool to sophisticated eyes in the vicinity? Also, will they badger you for money if you do stop by?

Here are the answers. First of all, the practice is called busking, where a group of artists voluntarily decide to perform on the streets. Some do it for money, but many do it simply because they’re proud of their talent and wish to share it with people. And no, not all artists who perform on the streets are jobless or homeless. Also, if you love music, you should stop by, because these artists are great performers are will surely wow you with their talent.

Now that you’ve begun to believe that buskers are a harmless bunch of really gifted artists, and are probably even entertaining the idea of stopping by the next time you see them, here are some fun things you can do to gain the most out of these impromptu performances:

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1. Make some noise!

It might be a public place, but there’s no rule against enjoying a wonderful live performance. So, sing along, clap, snap, tap and just have a good time!

2. Make a request:

Ask this merry bunch of artists to play your favourite song or recite a poem you love. Most buskers will happily oblige. In fact, they find it quite flattering.

3. Bust a move!

You don’t have to have Michael Jackson’s moves, or be able to pull off a perfect handstand, but you can still shake a leg! Don’t worry about what people will think, if you’re having a good time, just go with the flow.

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4. Take some photographs, or a video:

Not only will it serve as a happy memory, but by sharing these photographs or videos, you also help popularize an aspiring artist. Give their talent a boost by talking about your experience on social media platforms.

5. Like their Facebook page/Video channel:

Buskers don’t ask much of you, especially since you don’t have to pay a high price to watch them perform. But, if they make a humble request, like asking you to like their page or subscribe to their YouTube channel, please do. Trust me, it’ll be much appreciated.

Alright, now that you know what to do when you see these artistic beings in their element, go ahead and enjoy their performances!

Busking Basics: 7 Tips for Great Busking

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Busking is an established practice in many countries, where the government designates spaces in the city for street performances. There are different reasons why performers choose to take this route. Some use it as a means to earn a living, others do it to gain exposure and increase their confidence, and some simply do it because they enjoying playing music. However, busking can be quite a challenge, especially since people don’t purchase tickets to come listen to you, but you have to get their attention with your music. It can also be difficult because of the negative stereotypes that surround this occupation. Many look at it as a dis-respectable career, something “educated, cultured” individuals wouldn’t indulge in. So, how does one fight against these stereotypes and challenges and become a successful busker? Here are some tips to help you out.

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Respect your talent & believe in yourself:

There might be many mocking, critical voices, but if you wish to make it in the busking world, you need to toughen up and start believing in your ambitions. Busking is a wonderful thing to do as it helps you gain exposure and experience in performing in front of a crowd. It also spreads cheer among hassled, stressed-out commuters and passersby, for free!

Connect with your listeners:

Remember, people aren’t obliged to listen to you, so if they do chose to, appreciate them for doing so. Smile, tell them about yourself, your group. Ask them if they’re having a good time. If someone makes a song request and you happen to know the song, play it for them. Don’t forget to thank your audience for stopping by

Develop relationships with other buskers:

Each musician learns their own lessons through busking. By conversing with fellow buskers, you can learn about their experiences, what has worked for them in the past and what has not. Also, to get people’s attention, you need to come up with something creative. By collaborating or brainstorming with other musicians, you might chance upon an interesting new style of playing which you can present the next time you hit the streets.

Dress the part:

If you show up looking scruffy and unkempt, people will not take you seriously and therefore, will not take your music seriously. So, ensure that you look presentable. You could even sport accessories and props that complement the genre of music you play for a funky look.

Respect your performance space:

Show up on time. Don’t dirty or litter the surroundings you perform in. Also, don’t disrupt the peace and quiet with very loud music. Soft, melodious performances are preferred to booming, noisy ones. If there are buskers in your vicinity, greet them and be friendly. You never know, you might just find that violinist you’ve been looking for!

Opt for upbeat songs:        

Your song choice is very important when busking. People aren’t really expecting a performance and so, to get their attention, you must do something catchy. Performing an upbeat, cheerful number is more likely to get people interested in your playing. This being said, however, stick to playing the kind of music you like, because only then will you really believe in your music and nothing can be more heartwarming than watching a musician perform with passion.

Come prepared:

When busking, you’re on your own. There won’t be technicians or stagehands waiting to come to your assistance if you encounter a glitch. So, be prepared to deal with unforeseen issues like snapped strings, a sudden downpour or a malfunctioning amp. Carry along extras or replacements whenever possible. Also, tote along water, munchies to keep your energy levels up and gear to protect you and your instrument from harsh weather.

Well, these were some tips to help you enjoy a street-full performance every time you busk. Happy Busking!

Fun things to do this week!

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Who says you need to wait for the weekend to have fun? In a city as lively and energetic as Mumbai, cool things happen every day! All you need to do is give the papers, or your favourite on-line event magazine a glance, and you’re sure to find something interesting to do throughout the week!

If you feel too lazy to skim through multiple sources, here is a blog post that gives you a lowdown on the best and coolest events happening this week. Go through this list to pick a few (or all) activities you would like to be a part of!

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Image courtesy: Kate Collins 2003

For music lovers:

Well, there always is the NSPA! NSPA artists perform every day of the week at different locations, so your live music scenes are sorted for the week. The best part about these performances is that they are held at public locations, like at Metro stations or in malls, so if you happen to be passing through these locations on your way to or from work, stop by to unwind to some relaxing music.

NSPA performances to watch out for this week:

Famous songs get a pop/jazz twist as our NSPA artists create melodious cover versions of them. Head towards Carter Road on Tuesday, 7-9 pm to enjoy these compositions.

Commute via the Metro every day? Look out for our artists at Marol Naka Station on Thursday (6-8 pm), Andheri Metro Station on Friday (7-9 pm) and Saki Naka Metro Station on Saturday (6-8pm)Upbeat folk music, Marathi fusion, Sufi and alternate rock are the genres you’ll be treated to here.

On Sunday, head over to Linking Road to catch some wonderful live performances. From 8-10 am, our resident artists put up fun-filled performances at various junctions. Powerful dramas, folk and fusion music, pop/rock and Sufi performances, it’s all there at ‘Equal Streets!’

For more info regarding these performances, visit our website: NSPA Events

For movie lovers: 

Movies @ the Museum is a movie screening program that is held at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum. It promises to showcase films and videos belonging to various genres, like documentary, fiction, animation and visual art.Film and academic practitioners too will be invited to engage with the audience and discuss their work. Head towards the museum on Friday at 6.30 pm to catch the action.

For drama lovers:

Explore eternal myths that still exist in our subconscious through a powerful drama by The Phoenix Players. ‘Orochi & Kaalia’ uses folk and classical forms to infuse life into the enactment. Enjoy this enchanting experience on Saturday, 7 pm at the Hive.

For comedy lovers:

Irish House and He Said She Said, two happening pubs team up to present ‘The Comedy Crawl’ on Thursday, 8.30 pm onwards. Talented standup and Improv comedians from Culture Shoq will keep you in splits with their witty, snappy-smart jokes. Also, there are some cool offers on domestic liquors!  Learn more about the event here: Time Out Mumbai

Well, hope this has your weekday scenes sorted! Have a happy week!

NSPA brings Indie Power to Marico Evenings!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

After days of anticipation and excitement, the mega music event, ‘Marico Evenings’ finally happened. The setup was beautiful. A colorful backdrop dressed the stage and rows of multi-colored lights set the mood for the evening. As the sun continued its downward march, the seats began to fill up, and as if competing with that great ball of fire, the audience seemed to want to fill the venue before the sun could make a graceful exit. They sure did succeed, for within minutes, every chair was occupied! Ones who couldn’t find a seat chose to watch the performances standing, and soon, a thick, snake-like line began to form around the venue.

The evening kicked off with a bang with our theatre enthusiasts, ‘Natakwale,’ presenting a thought-provoking drama. Their play tackled an issue that has been a cause for much concern of late; the safety of women in society. Through witty dialogues laced with a generous dose of sarcasm, they forced us to question and rethink some of the misogynistic attitudes we hold towards women. They also appealed to the audience to be more vigilant regarding the issue of women’s safety while also suggesting measures women could take in order to protect themselves better.

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To liven up the atmosphere and infuse melody into the thoughtful silence that followed the play, our next performers, 9 Beat, took to the stage. Armed with their simple instruments which included a flute, a guitar and a djembe, this team of three serenaded the audience with their harmonious instrumental compositions. A sense of calm permeated the atmosphere and you couldn’t help but close your eyes and relax as the melodious notes washed over your senses.

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After this soothing performance, it was time to bring on an interesting mix, a performance that blended Middle Eastern and Western musical influences. While the guitarist strummed gently and sang popular English numbers, a deftly played tabla kept time to his strumming, delivering the right beats at the right time.

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Next, it was time for some Sufi music and who better to give us this soulful treat than the very popular RAM-Trio. They took to the stage and belted out some popular numbers like ‘Piya Re,’ ‘Allah ke Bande Haste,’ and ‘Dama Dum Mast Kalandar.’ Their heartfelt, poignant performance appealed not just to the senses but to the soul too and one could feel the magic of Sufi music take over.

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Up next was a performance that presented a mix of styles. From Uttarakhandi folk to Uttarbhartiya folk to Punjabi folk to Lavani, One Nation, One Music presented an eclectic mix of styles that kept the audience enthralled and energized. One couldn’t help but clap to the beat and sing along!

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We reached the end of the evening and what better way to conclude an event as energetic as this than by another power-packed performance! The Drum Circle, a band that creates rhythmic music using percussion instruments like the cajon, djembe, dhol, tabla and symbols were called upon to deliver this spirited closing. And did they wow the audience! One could see feet tapping and heads nodding everywhere. The reverberating beats seemed to energize the audience and they began to cheer with newfound vigor and enthusiasm. Way to go Drum Circle!

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Finally, it was time to bid adieu to the audience and thank them for their support. However, before we could sign off, our artists were treated to a happy surprise. To congratulate and thank them for their fabulous performances, a certificate of appreciation was awarded to them on behalf of Marico Evenings! How cool is that!

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For more photographs from the evening, check out the ‘Marico Evenings‘ album on Facebook.

“Kabir rock meets Konkani folk – whoever thought of that?!”

Monday, October 27th, 2014

The NSPA organizes a musical showcase at Chuim Village’s community space “The Hive” on the 4th Sunday of every month, and it is named “Busking at the Hive”. For the October edition, we had NSPA alumni Neeraj Arya (Kabir rock singer/guitarist) and Viren Solanki (multi percussionist) engage in a creative jugalbandhi with existing NSPA artist Heloise Saldanha (Konkani folk singer) and hopeful new recruit Manuel DSouza (singer/violinist/guitarist)! The intimate gathering that turned up to watch the four artists applauded their storytelling skills, and congratulated the NSPA on envisioning this experimental collaboration.
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“It took me back to Greenwich Village’s folk music days of the New York of the 60s!” said one ecstatic Canadian audience member, while another remarked that so many musical performances had lost the magic of innovation, but that it was still alive for anyone to witness in the intimate nighttime gatherings taking place in all corners of Mumbai.

Well, here’s to keeping the magic alive!