One of the things that really drew me to Portland was the great music scene here. I had always felt pride in the wide ranging nationally known music of Minneapolis – Prince, The Replacements and Bob Dylan of course, even though he really turned into more of a New Yorker when he finally achieved his fame. But now I am proud of not only the great music that has come out of Portland – Elliott Smith, The Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney and even Paul Revere & The Raiders – but the emphasis and respect that is given to the buskers, the talented and hard working street musicians that serenade us all around the city.
Today was a special event designed to give extra special notice to the music of the streets, a festival called The Big Busk. Unlike most music festivals that are held in one specific location, this one was held all throughout the downtown area, on various street corners. Each artist or group was given an hour at a time on whatever corner they chose, allowing a rotation of artists and locations. This guideline is actually part of something called the Street Musician Partnership Agreement. This is a policy that was written to help the street musicians and downtown businesses come to agreement on some guidelines to assure a safe, respectful and enjoyable time for all, allowing everyone to take in the joy of hearing great music in such an amazing city setting.
I often stop to listen to the buskers on any given day when I am out and about, as well as taking in the great buskers that are always playing at the eclectic gathering we call Saturday Market. But today was so much fun, as I came across so much great music. I listened to a young man play music on a gorgeous guitar, which I’m sure is his pride and joy that he saved up to buy, complete with a leather guitar strap with roses embossed on it (Portland is known as the Rose City). Then I listened to a duo sing a song that lifted my spirits; words sung to me of hope that I really needed to hear – and they gave me a free cd of their music! I saw a woman in a long skirt pushing a xylophone to her next corner destination, but I lost her somewhere along the way. But I found a woman playing a beautiful handmade hammered dulcimer, that produced ethereal sounds in contrast to the cacophony of the city noises. What a lovely way to spend a bright and sunny summer’s day, listening to the sweet sounds of music in the city I love so much.