Ambient Busking…

Recently I took my street organ out to do some busking at the Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Street organ

Performing an ambient set, versus doing an show is very different and something that’s new to me. It’s a very different mindset than trying to build a crowd. It’s shorter interactions with people than when doing a show. What I would do is spot people about half a block away and try to pick a song that would get them dancing as they approached me.

@vintageorgan Dancing Queen on the Street Organ! #abba #dancingqueen #pikeplacemarket #streetorgan #coverband #louiefoxx #barrelorgan #busker @pikeplacemarket_official #streetperformer ♬ original sound – vintageorgan

While I was there I ran into puppeteer Rob D’Arc! He also runs a flea circus and we’ve working together a few times over the years.

street organ with rob d'arc

In an hour of street performing I made exactly $40

street performing hat

What I learned it that doing ambient street performing you have a lot less control of your “hat” than you do when doing a street show. With a show you can pitch your hat, with ambient, you don’t have a lot of time to catch people.


Sometimes You Gotta Take a Leap of Faith!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about Busker Organs and mine finally showed up…after about a month in transit from Europe! This was a crazy transaction, the guy who made it only takes wire transfer which has no buyer protection and these organs aren’t cheap! I don’t know the guy or have any mutual friends with him, so it was a total leap of faith and I half expected the Busker Organ to never show up.

Well, as of Saturday I have it!

The wooden box it was shipped in was damaged in transit. It looked like it had been dropped, then was dragged across a warehouse! The top and bottom were taped on!

Getting it home to check it out, I got to check out the condition.

Opening the crate, my heart sank when I say most of the pipes were knocked out of place, and it look s like someone tried to put them back (incorrectly). The clips the hold the lid on and the decorative wood pieces on the front were broken off and there were gouges in the wood.

Luckily I had a picture of the organ before it was shipped an was able to use that as a reference to begin to replace the pipes.

Busker Organ

While it’s disappointing that the decorative pieces had broken off, it’s a pretty easy fix to glue them back on.

Then I had the task to tuning the organ, and I got to give it a crank!

Busker street organ seattle

It worked and sounded great! I just booked a gig for tonight at Magic Mondays in Seattle for an idea I have with it. It’s not magic, but should be fun, and thanks in advance to the Magic Monday’s crew for letting me try this!


Busker Organ

About 10 years ago I worked at an event where there was a Street Organ / Busker Organ. These are hand crank organs that are cranked by an “organ grinder”. I was fascinated by it, and it’s something I’ve thought about doing. I even bought a set of John Smith‘s plans for make my own, but never did.

Then few months ago I was in Mexico City and these street organs were everywhere!

@vintageorgan Street Organ in Mexico City! #streetorgan #mexicocity #busker #buskerorgan #oldetyme #streetperformer #mexico ♬ original sound – vintageorgan

That got me very interested in doing it again and I went out and found a guy who could make me one! Here’s the organ that was made for me:

@vintageorgan Busker Organ! #streetorgan #organgrinder #organ #buskerorgan #vintageinstrument #holland ♬ original sound – vintageorgan

It was custom made in Europe and I should have it in a few days. I have some ideas for what to do with it, and we’ll see what happens when it arrives!

I went ahead and got all the socials for it:

Go and give them a follow!

And the website