Unheard, Unseen, Unauthorised
Event 15th May 2009
Over 20 Manchester musicians hit the city centre streets, playing an eclectic series of impromptu gigs in a variety of secret, unauthorised locations, from the very public to the very hidden. Organised by local music collective Single Cell, and taking place as part of the Futuresonic 2009 festival, the gigs, running from midday until 8pm, it featured a diverse range of artists who volunteered their services such as Aidan Jolly, Billtone, Craig Winterburn, Dave Birchall, Dave Leach, Dominic Berry (poet), HoneyFeet, Hot Bone, John Fairhurst, John Robb, Julie E Gordon, Leonie Higgins, Lunar Coup, Mike Garry (poet), Mind on Fire Collective, Phil Davies, Tom Kerswill, TG Elias, Ben Mellor, The Spokes, Tanante and more, representing everything from african drumming to heavy metal and acoustic folk and Poetry.
“Asylum seekers appealing decisions made by refugee courts are left without benefits or the ability to earn a living. These busking performances are taking place without permission in marginalised locations or hidden in very public places, mirroring the status of these destitute refugees.”
All proceeds from the gigs will go to destitute refugee campaigns and all acts are playing free of charge.
The event was covered by Community Reporters from Peoples Voice Media, and by students from Futureworks. It was quite frantic at times getting from one venue to another, only half an hour between performances and at various locations around Manchester. I think a bit more planning when organizing the next event to help us reporters get from one act to the next. The day was a bit wet, with rain on and off most of the day, but that did not stop the performance. And what performances from some of the artists, not all of them to my taste but found I really enjoyed some of them. Poetry is not my thing, that changed when I heard Mike Garry and Dominic Berry, it is so different when you hear it live, and not just read from a book. Honeyfeet, John Fairhurst and Lunar Coup were my personal favourites, not taking anything away from all the other artists that performed who gave it their all. On the whole it was a good day and for a good cause, and I hope it gets bigger and better for next year.
My only regret was I could not manage to stay till the end, but I was able to see the first 11 artists, it had been a long day and after all, there were other reporters there so nothing should have been missed from a reporting point of view.
One of the artists Leonie Higgins said this about her day at the event,
“ Guerrilla busking was cool. I found it very nerve-wracking, what with all the daylight and in-the-middle-of-the-street-ness, but I'm so glad we did it. We were without a loop pedal in the end, but it didn't seem to matter. It was a bizarre feeling, singing to people in anoraks, leaning against bicycles or pointing cameras through the light drizzle. Some people stopped and put money in the hat, others just looked away quickly, as if somehow making a spectacle of oneself in the street might be catching. I loved the whole atmosphere of it, though. It felt so naughty. Although later on I was told that at no point did anyone try to stop any of the acts. It might have been more fun if we'd had the chance to stand up to some angry policemen, but that, I have been assured, was not the point of the day. There was some music played and money raised for an excellent cause.”
Considering it was an impromptu busking event and no official permission was sought, it went ahead without any incidents or police, perhaps people were just enjoying good music.
I put together a video of my day at the event, hope you like it.
And from Peoples Voice Media we have a montage below.
Watch more videos on the Single Cell Collective Youtube Channel
Some photos below from the event.
Resources for Buskers
Street Performance for Pleasure and Profit (Looking to make a little money while traveling, or just play before a ready audience? Street performing could be your ticket.)