Busker What’s Your Story? June Caravel

Image Courtesy of June Caravel

June Caravel

“To make people laugh in Australia, I was busking with this sign that said: Help me get back home (with a French flag) or marry me! Coins, notes and love letters accepted.”

June Caravel

In 2012 June Caravel, a French singer, came up with a challenge to busk her way around Australia, a country she did not know, with only busking earnings to pay the way for herself and her videographer.

Thanks to the generosity of many Australians she was successful and she has placed a series of videos on YouTube documenting her experiences.

We thought it would be fun to invite June to our blog to tell us some more about her great Aussie busking adventure.

What are some memorable moments that you have encounered while busking?

“There are so many!| To make people laugh, I was busking with this sign that said: Help me get back home (with a French flag) or marry me! Coins, notes and love letters accepted. I even had blokes asking me if I could cook and mow the lawns as well? (Very important if you’re going to marry a girl in Australia apparently).”

“I kind of felt bad one day though when I was busking in Sydney, this homeless guy on the pier wrote me a very genuine and nice love letter, I kind of think he took my sign seriously! You will see it in the Sydney episode of my YouTube series.”

“There was another guy in Perth who also sent me a very long letter on my Facebook page, he had given me some coin and taken a photo with my sign. But really, the sign mostly just made people laugh, and some gave me more money, so I kept it the whole trip and then I framed it when I got back home to Paris, it’s hanging in my living room.”

If you could choose a lyric from any song, what would that lyric be, and why is it special to you?

Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing but different than the day before – it’s from a song called Raspberry Beret by Prince. I love the whole song, but chose this line because I think it represents what many feel about buskers, unfortunately. But we bring joy, fun and our viewpoint to the world. And we work damn hard to make a living out of our music/art. So I hope this changes the vision that people have of us.”

If you could change something you’ve seen on the streets, what would it be?

“People keep pitches for one another, which means if you’re not in the mafia you can’t get in. That sucks if you’re not an insider, and I think everyone should get a chance.”

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Before going to Australia, I had a talk with a guy who had been busking there. He told me the best way to busk was to go at the corner of a street with a lot of pedestrian traffic. While people wait for the traffic light to turn green, they have more time to pay attention to what you do, reach out for money in their pockets and give it to you. And he was totally right. So I thank you Cengiz for that advice which saved my life in Australia.”

What did you like best about busking around Australia? 

“The generosity of people. It was stunning. When I bet that I would survive only off people’s donations while busking in Australia, I honestly had no idea if I really could.

Not only did I find hosts on couchsurfing that let me and my cameragirl sleep on their couches in each city, but people were so generous.

Once I was busking at the end of the pier in Sydney with few very few tourists, it wasn’t really a good morning. I was about to wrap it up and go somewhere else, but I decided on one last song: The final countdown.

It so happened to be the favourite song of a guy passing by. He gave me 50 quid at the end of the song. I had made his day. And he certainly made mine! We had a very decent meal after that for a change.”



Busker What’s Your Story? Banana Trip Band, Lisbon

Banana Trip Band

“If someone thinks that peace and love are just a cliche that must have been left behind in the 60s, that’s a problem. Peace and love are eternal.”

John Lennon

The Banana Trip Band are the epitome of cool.

We caught them busking in June at Belem, just outside of Lisbon.

Busker What’s Your Story?

We think it’s got a lot to do with incredible music, amazing energy and fabulous hair!

Check them out here on Instagram.

Banana Trip Band Instagram

Busker What’s Your Story?


Welcome to my Blog – Busker What’s Your Story?

The idea for this project came about after a recent trip to Spain & Portugal. Though I didn’t interview the buskers there, the short grabs of their performance attracted great social engagement and I’ve included them in this blog.

As a writer and a music lover, writing the stories of ordinary folk is my jam. I thought, why not interview these talented everday folk and share a little piece of their story?

So here you’ll find just a slice of the lives of as many authentic, amazing, quirky, weird and wonderful musicians and street performers as I can discover.

I hope you’ll come along on this journey and share their stories and their talent with your social networks.

As we stumble upon them perched on street corners, hidden in subway tunnels, popping up in city riverside precincts or tucked under tents in country markets – let’s find out – Busker What’s Your Story?

Busker What’s Your Story? – Simon Paparo

Simon Paparo

Embrace everyone you come across. Show them love and tenderness,
and see if it comes back to you.”

My Dad died in March – I asked him when he was dying what he had learned from life – that was his answer.
Simon Paparo

Simon grew up in Perth and has been writing songs since the age of 15. His family moved to Sydney and then to Melbourne where he has continued his music career. You’ll find Simon busking regularly in Bourke Street Mall and gigging around Melbourne.

What’s something memorable that’s happened to you while busking?

“One day a guy listened for a while and then wrote a note and threw it in my guitar case. I didn’t look at it until I was packing up my stuff. I opened it and it said: ‘You gave me hope today.’ That was pretty special. I guess that’s why we do what we do.”

What’s a lyric you really love from any song?

“You’re gonna drown tomorrow, if you cry too many tears for yesterday.”
“It’s from a song called ‘Only Him or Me’ by Townes Van Zandt. I like that line.”

Who are your musical influences?

“Vance Joy, Bon Iver and Ed Sheeran. Also pretty much all of the folk artists from the 60s and 70s because I grew up listening to all of that music with my Dad.”

Apart from earning some coin, why do you busk?

“It’s a good way to pick up private gigs. I get party bookings, wedding bookings, that sort of gig from enquiries while busking.”

“But mostly it’s about human connection. One day before I started my set in Bourke Street Craig this homeless guy was in a really bad way. I thought he was dead. I rushed over to him and saw he was breathing. I got him some water and something to eat, got him an ambulance. We connected as human beings and now we have a chat, you know, we have a connection.”


Busker What’s Your Story? – Alejandro Aguanta

Alejandro Aguanta

“Sometimes creative types can have big egos. For me it’s about engaging with people. I like busking more than performing on a big stage, because here we’re approachable. People come up and talk to us.”

Alejandro Aguanta

An Australian born classical guitarist, Alejandro’s South American heritage saw him spend 10 years of his childhood in Bolivia. He would listen to his Dad sing and strum an accoustic guitar.

Later Alejandro taught himself the art of classical guitar. His skill and proficiency in fingerpicking through classic instrumental tunes is just part of his armour – the rest is sparked from his soul.

You’ll find Alejandro busking around Melbourne or catch him performing at a busking competition around Country NSW or Victoria. He also performs at weddings and private events.

Apart from earning some coin, why do you busk?

“It’s all about that engagement with people. And if I’m busking at a market or outdoor festival I like to use my music to provide a great atmosphere, that helps the stall holders to sell more merchandise. The creative arts are a tough gig, it’s good to help each other out.”

What’s a good piece of advice you’ve been given?

“If you have an itch or a curiosity – something you want to do – just do it. Don’t wait, because by the time you think you’re ready, the opportunity may have passed you by.”

If you could choose a favourite song or lyric, what might it be?

“There’s one by Bjork called ‘Hyperballad.’ From my perspective, that song speaks to me a lot about solitude. As musicians we spend a lot of time by ourselves, in a studio or in our room, we often don’t have a lot of human interaction.”

Who are your musical inspiratons?

“Surprisingly they’re not classical. I’m into a real mixed bag of genres, I love heavy metal and rock, even a bit of electronic.”


Busker What’s Your Story? Toledo, 2019

Don Quixote Street Performer Toledo, Spain

“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Who could resist this brave and quirky human as she delivers her Don Quixote monologue.

She clip clopped her way on her imaginary steed up the cobblestone streets of the ancient city of Toledo, Spain. We were so along for the ride!

Her sign says “unemployed”.

We hope her egg carton armour and cheeky sense of humour will shield her against the odds.

Today we saw life as it is, and not as it should be!

Busker What’s Your Story? – James Strachan

James Strachan

“Life is about balance. But sometimes you can’t see the balance.
Sometimes being unbalanced is actually the balance (if that makes sense).
I’ve encountered that advice in many different forms and it’s kind of stuck with me.”

James Strachan

25 year old James Strachan from Wodonga is best known for singing ‘a capella’ in his Barbershop Quartet titled Good Gravy.

I caught up with him busking solo at the Albury Wodonga Farmer’s Market, entertaining the crowd with some good old fashioned melodies on keyboard.

What’s a favourite lyric from any song?

“We are One – But we are Many,” from the song titled I am Australian by The Seekers
I think that’s a pretty good lyric.”

How did you come to be a musician?

“When I was a really young child my brothers would play the piano at home and I just loved it so much, I’d just get up and join them, and I love singing as well.”

Apart from earning some coin, what appeals to you about busking?

“Well today it’s about creating a harmonious and enjoyable atmoshpere for people, it’s nice.”

What’s something great, or terrible, you’ve experienced while busking?

“I haven’t busked a lot so nothing really stands out. But my mate busks around 1am or 2am in the
morning and he’s definately told me a lot of stories. You don’t point at people is one rule of his. He’s had blokes run off with some money, but mostly they’re just drunks mucking around.”

Busker What’s Your Story? Street Performer Porto, Portugal

Street performer in Portugal

“My inner goddess is doing the Merengue with some Salsa moves.”

E.L. James

We’re not sure what E.L. James would make of this pair, but we thought they were a hoot!

They danced the Merengue in Francisco Sá Carneiro Square, Porto to the delight and amusement of the crowd.

Busker What’s Your Story? We’re sure it’s full of saucy secrets.

Busker What’s Your Story? Flamenco Dancer, Seville

“The dancer’s trembling heart must bring everything into harmony, from the tips of her shoes to the flutter of her eyelashes, from the rustles of her dress to the incessant play of her fingers. Shipwrecked in a field of air, she must measure lines, silences, zigzags and rapid curves, with a sixth sense of aroma and geometry, without ever mistaking her terrain. In this she resembles the torero, whose heart must keep to the neck of the bull. Both of them face the same danger–he, death; and she, darkness.”

Federico Garcia Lorco/Poet from In Praise of Antonio Merce

In the exquiste city of Seville, the crowd are enchanted by a graceful dancer in traditional Flamenco costume.

Busker What’s Your Story?

She is beauty, she is grace, she is queen.

Busker What’s Your Story? – Malaga 2019

“Every inquisitive traveller keeps Granada in his heart, without having even visited it.” 

William Shakespeare.

This little fellow charmed the socks off us. We found him singing about Granada as we wandered through the historical district of the beautiful seaside port of Malaga.

His big happy smile and red ruffled shirt drew us in. His flamenco guitar kept us there.

The Kazoo was a quirky surprise.

Busker What’s Your Story? I guess we’ll never know; but we’re betting it’s a happy one.