Camden Town, London: From the Streets to the Stage in Under Five-Minutes

0A9A9798Surprisingly often my life is like a movie.  The opportunities and stories I can call my own are ones most people will only know from the cinema.  There have been scenes of adventure, romance, drama, comedy, horror, and all other genres.  And out of everything I’m thankful for, I most highly cherish the every-changing activity I’m privileged to.

For years I’ve wanted to street perform.  Sit near a dirty curb with my guitar case opened welcomingly in front of me.  As the human traffic moves orderly, my music would hopefully give the small stretch of pavement I occupy a value.  Something that would differentiate those few steps for passing pedestrians from their many others.

My draw to busking – street performing – has little to do with collecting pocket change.  I find it to be romantic, and brave.  And yesterday I finally committed for the first time not only to be the passerby.

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My friend Caroline and I – her with her ukulele and me with my guitar – set out for Camden Town, London in the early evening.  The weather was dull, filtering the light in a way that made the world look de-saturated.  We both surged with a child like excitement though, and cut our way impatiently through the crowds, looking for a space to occupy.

Camden Town is London’s only borough where it is legal to street-perform.  Everywhere else requires a permit – which in some cases can demand an audition to obtain.  Because of this, Camden’s streets are peppered with performers.  Our late arrival made it difficult to find an unoccupied block, but soon enough we had arrived.

Beneath a large blue bridge that read, “Camden Lock”, I threw down my guitar case, took a meditative breath while Caroline nestled the ukulele under her arm, and we began singing our first song – Kids by MGMT.

Image Courtesy of: http://urbangiraffe.com/images/blog/2011/04/camden-lock-bridge.jpg

Image Courtesy of: http://urbangiraffe.com/images/blog/2011/04/camden-lock-bridge.jpg

Halfway through that first number I noticed a woman – she walked in a hurried way.  As soon as she had passed us she took pause, and turned back calmly as if she had been suddenly relieved of her seemingly urgent errand.  We made eye contact; I smiled – and came into the next chorus faintly more confident.

Once the last chord had been strummed Caroline and I turned to each other – we needed to choose our next song.  Before a decision was made though, the hurried woman was standing in front of us.  And what she said went something like this:

“I’m sorry to bother, but I’m the talent manager at Camden Proud.  The performer who was supposed to play for the next hour just canceled on us – would you two mind filling his space?  We will put you up on stage and can give you free drinks!”

www.standard.co.uk

Image Courtesy of: www.standard.co.uk

Within five-minutes time, I had transitioned from my very first street performance to my very first lounge/bar performance.  Our set ended up lasting about an hour and a half.  And upon arriving at venue, we were given microphones, drinks, a small outdoor stage, and a story I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

A friend of mine was supposed to come take pictures – but didn’t.  I hope that you enjoyed these pictures.

– Sepp

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