26 Apr,2017 By Jagabond
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” – Albert Einstein
As someone who flirted with music before settling on science, I can relate with the quote above. I have my brother to thank for my love of music. Before he started influencing me I was a mid-80’s reclusive nerd, and my favorite albums were ‘Invisible Touch’ by Genesis, and the soundtrack to ‘Field of Dreams’. Under his guidance my tastes grew…first Rush, then Bob Dylan. His band was looking for a bassist, and he spent three months teaching me how to play before we had our first show. That began an eight-year adventure playing in a wide range of bands, from punk to hip-hop. So…thanks for the music, bro!
I’ve since stopped playing but the love for the art remains. The busking culture in Europe is fascinating, where it seems relatively easy to perform music on the street for donations. This isn’t as much a thing in the U.S., probably due to legal reasons and the need for permits. On my travels I would film short videos of these musicians, then compensate them of course. I’ve listed my favorite performances below.
1. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is the classiest city, and one of my favorite spots in Europe. I love when the street music matches the culture of the city, as it does here. This scene played out during Christmastime, and the classical violin music produced the most perfect holiday setting.
2. Madrid, Spain
I’m an avid Woody Allen fan, and this jazz quartet playing in Retiro Park seemed like a scene from one of his movies. The sax player is outstanding, and this is easily the most polished and tight street band I’ve seen during my travels.
3. Cascais, Portugal
The sandy beaches of Cascais provided the perfect ambience for this two-man acoustical jam. Though I’m not the biggest Simon and Garfunkel fan, ‘Mrs. Robinson’ was a great choice for this sunny, July afternoon.
4. Gdansk, Poland
This solo violin piece nearly made me cry it was so beautiful. The woman was playing next to the river, right at the entrance to Gdansk old town. This sad yet triumphant music fits Poland, which has overcome so much tragic history throughout the 20th century.
5. Nimes, France
I like seeing novel and strange instruments, like the one this French fellow was playing in Nimes. He is cranking a hurdy-gurdy, a device where a turning wheel acts like a violin bow against the strings.
6. Galway, Ireland
I’m a known dog lover, so street musicians always gain extra points for having canine friends with them. Galway is the quintessential Irish town, with great music, stiff Irish whiskey, and bottomless Guinness pints. This gentlemen was one of many buskers I saw during my walk around the town.
7. Oslo, Norway
This was more like a busking team, and was probably associated with a university in the area, as they seemed really on-the-mark musically. There’s nothing like a raucous horn section to serenade your walk through a new city.
8. Turin, Italy
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a one-man-band in person before…this guy was really something else. He traversed through the crowded streets of Turin mostly annoying people, as there wasn’t much interest given to him. I thought his version of “I Will Survive” was incredibly unique.