Sunday, 18 May 2008


One of the dubious delights of living in the centre of a big city is the constant flow of buskers who selflessly spend their time playing music for our entertainment. Plaza de Chueca, with about two hundred outdoor seats, is a magnet for these good folks. The most popular instrument is the accordion, but recently there's been a spate of bad trumpeteering.

Now, the accordianistas I could just about tolerate. One or two of them I could even enjoy. But I would be very happy if I never heard one of these trumpeters again. At first, I thought it was one guy with nothing better to do, who appeared at least once an hour with his overamplified backing tracks and unmuted instrument. But closer inspection reveals there are at least three different guys, but they all play exactly the same repertoire. Badly. I really don't need to hear Hello Dolly, When The Saints Go Marching In and others upwards of ten times a day.

But there is some good stuff. There's a troupe of percussionists who sometimes wander through the square and don't actually accept any money. Then there's 70s Bailarina - an ageing wraith who wears a long blonde wig and original glittery 70s disco gear and who gamely bops away to the likes of Adam and the Ants and Iggy Pop.

The star of the busking show, though, has to be The Fire Guy. He shows up at about 11pm or midnight, and juggles with fire. He's really incredible and we always give him some money if we are down in the square (I don't think it would be a good idea to throw a couple of Euros from the seventh floor).

Recently, MamaDuck bought me a guitar, which I am now trying to re-learn. I used to play in a band when I was a teenager, over thirty years ago, and haven't touched a guitar since. Guess what: it's not like riding a bike! It occurs to me that I might go and practice in the square - people might give me money to go away.


neilt said...

Hola Keef.

That (those) trumpet guy(s) drive me mad, and that is from the back of our building. I can't see them, so I thought it was always the same guy. Couldn't believe the same bloke could play those same tunes again and again without going mad...

Anyway, as I mentioned in the hallway, this is the kids' book I learnt to play the guitar with, though by the sounds of it (not the guitar) you might be more advanced than this level:

the real nick said...

(I don't think it would be a good idea to throw a couple of Euros from the seventh floor)

It's an excellent idea, when the buskers are crap!

Mark said...

I normally tipped (where possible) buskers in Madrid. Often they're "sin papeles" with no other means of earning a living, and I'd sooner see them earn a living this way rather than stealing/mugging. The same went for those Africans/Chinese flogging counterfeit gear. However I have to admit I got cheesed off with the buskers (and beggars) on the metro train itself. Very annoying, although not quite as bad as the trendy youngster with a dog on a string outside the bank cashpoint.