Sunday, November 18, 2012

Head, Hands And Feet...& More


Anyone who had been following this blog, may have noticed that I have not been posting for the past year. As busking is a big part of my life, I continue to go out and play, and still gather photos and videos of other buskers that I come across in my travels. However, due to a long bout of writer’s burnout, I have not been able to take it beyond that.

Recently, I got a phone message from my good friend and fellow street musician Dave Harris, letting me know that he had started a Victoria Buskers group on Facebook and was hoping that I would become a member. A number of other buskers from the old days were joining and sharing photos, videos and comments, and Dave thought that I would really enjoy reading it. Also, he believed that my contributions would add to the group experience.

It has now been a little over a week since I joined up, and after initially taking some time to familiarize myself with the layout of the site, I began enjoying the experience. Seeing all the posted photos, videos and comments has brought back a lot of memories, and sparked a renewed motivation to get back to working on my blog again.

More on the Facebook page a little bit later, but first a bit about Dave and his most recently completed endeavor.

It is probably safe to say that Dave might be the most dedicated busker in Victoria. Every summer for the last 35 years, he’s become a well-known local attraction, some have said “a fixture” entertaining local and international audiences on Government Street and down on the causeway. On top of that, in the off-season when not busking, he has kept himself busy with other busker related projects. Whether it has been producing many cassettes and CDs of his own music, or contributing to the many projects of other buskers, in his capacity as musician/producer/recording engineer, Dave, like the energizer bunny, just keeps going and going.

In 2004, Dave ventured into new territory when he bought a cam-corder and started documenting the local busking scene. Since then he has produced several DVDs, including four busker movies, all the while archiving new footage.

“What,” one might ask “could he possibly add to his creative achievements?” The answer to that question came early this year, when Dave became a published author with the release of his first book Head, Hands & Feet: A Book of One Man Bands.

Dave explained the process of putting the book together, which began in 2009 when he took the step to pay for an internet connection and started doing online searches.

“I started hunting around to see what was out there on me, as most people would do, and I actually didn’t find all that much, but I found all these other one man bands. I thought ‘gee, is there a book out about this?’ I started looking for that, and, no, there was no book, [so] I thought ‘well, maybe I’ll write a book’”.

“I’d written a number of articles for blues magazines and things like that over the years, and I always liked the writing process, and nobody had written a book on one man bands, so I thought this might fill a niche, and maybe music critics and people that collect books about music will be interested, because it’s very obscure.”

Over the next three years, Dave spent a lot of time doing more internet research, social networking, sending out e-mails, and doing telephone interviews with people, hoping to get them to share their experiences. He said “I tried to use people’s own words as much as possible,  [but] of course, wrote a lot of text, as well."

The end result is a top-notch 416 page hardcover compendium of information about one-man-bands. Interspersed with over 1200 incredible photos (most of them in color), the book includes a glossary of busking terms, OMB history, biographical entries of 900 OMBs from around the world (Canada, US, UK, Europe, Australia, Asia & South America). The bio entries range from in-depth pieces on more influential and better known OMBs, to shorter pieces on the lesser known, and brief mentions of the more obscure and those on the periphery. Music styles covered cross many genres, including blues, folk, country and punk. A worthy addition to any music collector’s bookshelf, the book would no doubt also be a revelatory read for anyone who didn’t know there was so much interesting information about a subject they may have only had a brief exposure to.

And now, back to the earlier mentioned Facebook group. After finishing his book, and upon completion of the most recent busking season, Dave began thinking about a new project, and he soon found his inspiration a little closer to home.

“You gotta write about what you know, so, of course, I’ve got yourself Country Dave, who’s done a massive amount of research and writing about the [busking] scene. Anyway, reading your blog has inspired me to want to go a little bit further with this, so I created [the] Facebook group with [the] idea in mind that eventually we would get input from everybody that was wanting to be involved, and put it together into a book. Being only a couple of weeks old, [the group] seems to be getting some traction, and taking off a little bit. People have been posting photos and I’ve been creating a list of all the buskers, Hopefully it’ll all dovetail nicely into putting together a nice little book, that all the buskers can sell when they’re doing their shows, we’ll see.”

So, in closing if you have ever busked in Victoria, or have enjoyed watching one of the buskers shows, hopefully you will join the group and share your comments, photos and/or videos at Victoria Buskers on Facebook.

If you are interested in purchasing Dave’s book Head, Hands & Feet, you can do so at his One Man Band Book blog.