Culture / Features / Music

The City Centre Sound: Busking in Glasgow

Glasgow is an inspirational city with an eclectic music scene that stretches across the whole spectrum from pop and classical to jazz and rock. The grass roots of Glasgow’s music scene can be experienced on any trip into the city centre.

Whether we are scurrying past them on our way to work or ambling along the high street on a weekend, buskers can provide us with a soundtrack to any city centre visit. The Wee Gwanted to know more about these enigmatic musicians.

Wandering along Buchanan Street on a reasonably dry day you can take in a wide variety of musical styles, without paying a penny.

We took such a wander down Buchanan Street, and within the space of a few hundred feet, we were treated to some Guns N’ Roses from a Spanish Slash look-a-like, a few Stereophonics tunes on acoustic guitar by a local boy, and finally some Miles Davis from a drummer and a saxophonist.

It was surprising to learn that such a talented guitarist as 22 year old Borja Cabanas-Diazhad no real designs on a musical career, he simply enjoyed playing.

The Spaniard’s choice of pitch outside HMV that day was just a coincidence. He said:

“I play because I enjoy being out here and entertaining people”

Borja Cabanas Diaz on Buchanan Street/Taken by Sam Shedden

Cabanas-Diaz, who is currently searching for work has been busking for over a year and thoroughly enjoys performing, he told The Wee G: “The best experience I’ve had was one Saturday night on Buchanan Street.

“I was playing Sweet Child of Mine and there was a crowd of about 20 people gathered around singing along.

“It was awesome.

“It made me feel really really good.”

Busking is not without it’s difficult moments though. In February this year a busker was racially abused on Sauchiehall Street. The BBC caught the incident on film. Cabanas-Diaz described his experiences of the darker side of busking:

“Some drunk guys came to me at night and tried to grab my guitar. Some nights there are many arseholes”

Charlie Nagy (drums) Craig Nelson (saxophone)/Photograph by Sam Shedden

On the other end of the street it was a different story. Jazz musicians Craig Nelson and Charlie Nagy are much more businesslike when it comes to their craft. When asked why they busked, Craig simply replied: “It’s just a job, isn’t it?”

The jazz pairing were seasoned busking veterans and have played in public together for 10 years, and played various gigs throughout the city.

David Stanton/Photograph by Andrew Revill

In between these two opposites on both the street and in musical genre, there stood David Stanton, 25, a first-time busker from Springburn.

“I was awfie nervey before I started today but the main point of today is for me to get some experience an earn a couple of quid while I’m at it.”

The Wee G took some time to listen to each of the musicians playing, check out some of their musical stylings in the video below.

Slideshow: Andrew Revill & Sam Shedden

If you want to know more about the busking scene in Glasgow then the Busk Club is essential. The Busk Club is an online platform designed to promote the music of Glasgow’s street musicians. We spoke to Andrea Preston, 20, the creator of Busk Club, about the importance of Glasgow’s busking scene: “Busk Club is about bringing the music of the people on the street to a wider audience.

Image: Busk Club logo/Courtesy Andrea Preston

“A lot of artists are put off by the idea of busking now as it is so easy to just upload your song, but I think there is something really pure and interesting about people playing on the street.

“The music out there is very varied. It really reflects the Glasgow music scene.

“Being a busker is the best way to practice for live gigs and it’s just a really easy way to get your music out there.”

Busk Club works with several talented musicians, for more information on its members click here.

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @AndrewRevill

Follow Sam on Twitter: @SamShedden

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