Elvis is Busking Outside the Building

More on the evolution of the Tribute show to the King

The Show Must Go On – Repairs:

After the great big heavy Wharfdale tower speaker blew up at the Kilbirnie Festival, I replaced it with an old JVC 3-way speaker bin. It is a hang of a lot louder, but it is a very clean sound and easy to keep under control. Now I can compete with the roaring buses and trucks in the other main shopping areas around Wellington again.

Then the left wheel on my hand-truck trolley, blew a bearing. So I got an brand new wheel for 16 bucks. It was cheaper for a whole wheel than what I was expecting to pay for one bearing. It was now time to push the 12 volt busking rig, over Mt Victoria from Kilbirie to Newtown. The old Bus Stop Pub has been replaced with a very cool Mexican Restaurant. I saw that door was not used and thought I would try busking in a new location for a while.

Busking the Bus Stop

Taking the Show on the Road has been a bit of a hoot. The sound is digitally clean and the backing band tracks are a treat, but in Newtown I am running the show at concert level, I could never get this loud in Kilbirnie. So I point the speaker away from the folk waiting on the seating for a bus across the road. Here I was wondering how the shops across the road will react. I did say I never play longer than 2 hours in one place over the mic. Although it is a bit loud, because the sound is so clear without any distortion, people can still easily talk to each other sitting on the Bus Stop Bench.

And then it’s 1 for the money 2 for the show. The shoe shop owner came over and put some coins in the guitar case, then got the shop next door to come out and check out the moves. Upstairs they are renovating and one of the painters folded a $5 note and tucked it under the microphone stand like a pro. That’s a good start, I do not think they might call the sound patrol Ghosts.

I do not think that anyone has been Busking at the Bus Stop since the pub closed. To boldly go where no busker has gone before. Everybody busks outside the supermarket, but I did not do any good there so I looked for something new. The entrance to the the new Mexican is around the corner on a side door. I still keep the unused front door clear, there could be a fire or quake, there is just enough room for me to be out of the way.

To be painting a picture of this for your dear reader. This is my 1st year doing the Elvis tribute show on the streets of Wellington. It is still blowing my mind, at the reaction all generations have to the music of the King. I try hard not to have many old folk blocking their ears at me, it happens a few times but Elvis brings back great memories, if delivered with passion. How can I put it, if you are going to sing, then you might as well do it with all that you’ve got, or else why would you bother. Having a Boss Reverb also helps a lot.

This Tuesday I was back at the Bus Stop again for the Lunchtime commuters. The shades with the big side burns, collars tucked up, blue jeans. The acoustic guitar I play on some of the rock lead guitar solos and licks in Heartbreak Hotel. I have always enjoyed trying to sound just like each singer over decades of busking old radio hits and stuff. Elvis had a voice that was unique and well controlled from crooning and a phrase or two of hard rock.

The JVC speaker is not only much louder and cleaner sound, but it is half the weight and space on the trolley at the last speaker. The car booster amp is a digital clean amplifier on 12 volt [gel-cell] batteries, Sony X-Plode is a leader in the field. All the power is in reserve and it never strains or distorts. Yes I am playing it quite loud, but that is because it does not make a dam racket that causes damage to people’s hearing.

This sound rig is all good for Newtown but Wellington still has one more challenge. Courtney Place, late at night on the weekends. All the bars turn up their out-side speakers and the footpaths are packed with very drunk people. To cope witht the background, most buskers ther use industrial band gear, powered by a car battery through an inverter. My big 15 inch powered speaker bin is too big without a car or taxi, so I save that rig for gigs.

One more short story about Elvis busking at the bus stop. About 20 people have gathered waiting for a bus to the Zoo or East to Kilbirnie and beyond. A large pale woman slowly got to the bench and commanded others there to make room for her large self. I could see the grudging reaction of the others. Because my amp and new speaker makes no distortion, it is easy for people to talk to each other, although the music is quite loud, but controlled.

Anyway, as soon as that song was finished, she turned to me and barked in a loud voice. “And you should just stop making that noise. That’s right you should just stop and do not come here again.” Now there are a number of ways I could react to that. So i hit the pause button on the Mp3 Backing music. Others around told her to shut up, and I said to her,

“I am a poor boy just trying to earn a living wage for the few hours I can deliver this show. You see, I am turning it down a bit and will select a different song for you, but do not tell me to stop altogether. That is a bit harsh of you!”

I selected the song ‘Don’t Be Crewel’ and as the next bus arrived, many people tipped me in protest against her. In three minutes they were all gone and I had made another ten bucks.  I would like to thank that aggressive slop of a person, I done all right from our short confrontation. A bigot a day is Good for business.

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