How can we support London’s busking community?

Watching buskers perform at the Market at the Western Fair will brighten your Saturday mornings as you explore the market. Musicians provide a lovely backdrop over the din of shoppers making their way between stalls filled with colourful food, colourful people and unique goods,

In between songs, the buskers also love to chat.

Friendly Folks

Fanshawe College Music Industry Arts (MIA) student Lliam Buckley said a friend first introduced him to busking. Buckley began busking at the Covent Garden Market before playing at the Market at the Western Fair District. He teaches music lessons in between his studies.

Busking at the Western Fair Farmers' Market. Lliam Buckley playing the guitar inside The Market at the Western Fair District.
Lliam Buckley entertaining patrons of the Market at the Western Fair District. When he plays on Saturdays, it’s for about five to six hours.

Buckley enjoys the atmosphere of London’s busking community.

“It’s a good energy boost. Everyone is super friendly,” Buckley said. “It’s a good place to practice your stuff because people are walking by so they don’t care if you mess up. Even if they hear, they’re all friends at this point.”

Buckley also enjoys busking because it’s an interactive way to show your talent. He said that the people passing through the market will make requests and get to know him.

“London tends to have one of the most supportive communities for buskers that I’ve seen,” Buckley said. “There’s a good tradition in people enjoying music and enjoying different musicians and it makes it worthwhile.”

The Spirit of an Entrepreneur

Terry Colfax, a long-time busker, was thrilled LondonFuse was doing a story about busking. He’s been busking off and on over the years, and focuses on writing and art when he’s not doing music. Colfax plans to continue busking for as long as possible.

It’s free to busk at the Market at the Western Fair District after you get a busking license, but how much money you make simply depends on the day. Colfax said that sometimes he’s made quite a bit of money. Other days… not so much. However, he enjoys busking so much that sometimes, it doesn’t matter.

Busking at the Western Fair Farmers' Market. Terry Colfax playing the harmonica outside of The Market at the Western Fair District.
Terry Colfax, a long-time London, Ontario busker, says he will continue to busk until he is unable to do so.

“Most of us are pretty happy to be just playing and I think the public gets that,” Colfax said. “They’ll walk by a busker and they’ll know if he’s happy or he’s enjoying what he does. It doesn’t matter if he’s making money or not.”

Steve Hillier, a founding member of the market and advocate for the busking scene, said he admires the “entrepreneurial spirit” of buskers.

“You’ve got people coming here on a Saturday, it’s eight o’clock in the morning, and they’re playing guitar and singing,” Hillier said. “I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is even have a conversation.”

Supporting buskers online

Watching the buskers perform at The Market is a great way to check out some local talent, but you can also find these performers online.

Hillier said he created the Buskers of London Ontario Facebook page because thus far, there was nothing like it. The page focuses on downtown restaurants and the market, and he tries to take videos from new restaurants while he works with Haymach.

Busking at the Western Fair Farmers' Market. Steve Hillier taking videos of Lliam Buckley playing the guitar inside The Market at the Western Fair District.
Steve Hillier posts videos of London, Ontario’s buskers, including Lliam Buckley, on the Buskers of London Ontario Facebook page.

“The hope is that other people take videos of other people busking, just share them with us, and we’ll reshare them on the busking page,” Hillier said. “That way, everyone gets a chance to see. You never know who is going to get discovered.”

In addition to tossing a coin for the buskers and sharing videos on the Facebook page, Hillier also suggests searching for videos of buskers from around the world on YouTube.

Meanwhile, the next time you’re at the Market at the Western Fair District, take some time to listen to the local buskers perform and get to know them afterwards.

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