Busker What’s Your Story? Grant Swift

Grant Swift – Rhythm Tap Melbourne

“It’s awesome, when a crowd gathers at the exact time as your jam starts to cook and a lot of coin goes in the hat, but the nature of what I, and my boys, The Swift Brothers, do is up and down like life. It’s a matter of enjoying the process. Jam, find a flow, dance for yourself first and let the audience choose to come to that (or not). But when they do, hit them with the good stuff.”

Grant Swift

He’s been a state champion boxer, a male stripper, a street performer and an acclaimed tap dancer. Melbourne’s Grant Swift is a really cool guy, with a really cool story.

The son of a boxing pro, Swift spent his young years observing the rhythmic beat of his dad’s skipping rope tapping on the wooden verandah of their home in New Zealand. He said his father would then disappear into the fog on a run. “It was very romantic to me as a kid, I always wanted to follow in his footsteps. If your Dad’s a brickie, you’re going to lay bricks.” So Swift became a fighter, and though he was a natural, he says he was a lazy trainer who got by on talent, without his heart truly in it.

Even now, there’s a very sweet authenticity in Swift’s demeanour. A genuine naivity from a man who is (you would assume) anything but naive.

In the early eighties, at 17 years of age, Swift left New Zealand for Australia, looking for a boxing trainer. A sliding doors moment with a guy sweeping the floor in a bar in Northern Queensland somehow led to an offer to be a part of Australia’s first ‘Ladies Nights’ (something brand new in America, which the floor sweeper was bringing to Australia). Within a month, Swift found himself performing as a dancer and male entertainer in a show called ‘Hollywood Heroes.’ He played the character of James Bond.

Swift performed for around a year in Australia before returning to New Zealand and starting his own ‘Ladies Nights’ there. He says he knew stripping was a young man’s game and though a lot of fun, it wasn’t the ‘thing’ he was really looking for.

At 21, another fateful meeting with a kitchen-hand in Sydney introduced him to that ‘thing.’ “This lady was a tapper, she showed me some flaps and a time-step and I picked it up pretty much on the spot and then she went out for the night,” said Swift. When she came back, he had taught himself 32 bars of what she’d shown him. The seed was planted.

Next, Swift met a young tapper who showed him a video of ‘The Nicholas Brothers.’ He recalled watching the African American tappers on black and white tv as a very young child with his father. “What’s that Dad? How are they doing that?” he had asked, fascinated by the art form. He says his Dad, a typical London cockney replied: “Well, it’s trick photography, i’nit Son.”

Swift practiced his new passion for around eight hours a day in Australia. He spent a year busking on the street and then bought a ticket to America in 1990. His plan was to go to New York.

In a transit lounge in L.A., another chance meeting sealed his fate. Talking his way through customs with an ineligible ticket, he said: “I want to come in, I’m a tap dancer, I really need to get in here and learn, because this is where tap’s from, and where I’m from, there’s nothin!” Curious, the customs officer peered into his backpack and realised he had next to no luggage. “Well, first of all, you don’t want to go to New York, you want to go to New Orleans!” That sliding door slid wide open once more. Swift was in.

He spent a couple of nights in a hostel in L.A. where he found himself, a 22 year old white kid from New Zealand, busking on the street along Venice Beach.

Swift landed in New Orleans with $20 in his pocket and a thirst to tap. To really tap. “I hit Bourbon Street and that was it. I was there for a month and slept in Jackson Square with the locals and tapped on the streets. I got arrested twice, the coppers were horrible then, they didn’t like black and white together at all. That was the South.”

Swift met an old local cat called ‘Uncle Willy’ who observed the ‘spirit’ in Grant’s dancing and introduced him to a few more cats in New Orleans. He soaked up the invaluable gifts of their art. “It was only a short time, but it was prettty deep there,” Swift says.

Living in London for the next three years, Swift tapped on the street with his young daughter Calisha, together they paid the rent. He returned to Melbourne and set up a tap school in St Kilda where he later brought dancers to Australia from all over the World.

Were there many other tappers busking on the street when you started out? 

 When I started busking by coincidence there was another guy starting out and busking too, his name was Locky. We were both pretty basic with our technique. Locky was a great spirit, always looked happy, he danced from the waist down mostly, he didn’t move his body around much, it was all legs and feet and he used to jump up on the chairs in Bourke Street mall and dance on them.

My Style was a bit more athletic. I did flips and split drops and used a few dance moves, the flips and splits used to hurt by the end of the day, but it filled the hat, so I kept doing it.

A few times Locky and I teamed up and shared a hat.

Where do you busk in Melbourne today?

 My sons and I have only been busking in St Kilda lately because we have an arrangement with the Acland Village and it’s convenient living locally. We still like to dance in the Bourke St Mall or along Swanston St. I love the buzz of the city (we haven’t been into the city for over a year though probably). I’m teaching quite a bit lately.

So here you are, a 22 y.o. white kid in L.A. and you think: “I might go busk on Venice Beach today.” Tell me about that – it must have been such a buzz, but scary too?

Was I scared ? I suppose nervous is more the word. I always get nervous, about everything, (there’s that sweet authenticity again), but I’ve grown to embrace and enjoy the emotion over the years. There was some amazing acts along the strip and I remember feeling the big difference in the level of intensity of everything, the buskers, the crowds, the locals, everything was more intense.

Looking back, I think I just had a whole lot of energy and curiousity and belief in Tap dancing as being my destiny. So I just danced and usually I’d be so into it, I would be too tired to be worried. I was too busy trying to keep time and stay on my feet.

The key to tap, apart from having natural rhythm, seems to be to make it look effortless – would you agree? How do you do that?

Making it look easy is definitely a good thing. With tap dancing, it’s good to also be able to communicate to the audience that what you’re doing is hard, then do it with flair and personality.

One of the classic lines I heard, I think came from the great Bill Bojangles Robinson. He would go into a time step and tell the audience: ‘Here’s one I sat up all night trying to get.’ Then he would do a really cool step. I think Tap is like a lot of art forms, it ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it (great song that).

So to answer your question how do you make it look it easy? It’s just practice, just like watching someone who’s been making pizzas for years, they can flip the doh up in the air, spin it etc with ease, but it took a lot of practice. I still practice, always will, I love it.

Tell me about your kids – they are amazing!

I’ve got four kids. Calisha, the oldest, is 30 now, Harry 24, Oscar 22 and Teisha 15. Yes they all tap, lol.

Calisha was an absolute gun when she was a kid and partnered me on the street and in jazz gigs, festival shows etc for years, but when she got into her later years of school and then into work she stopped tap dancing. It’s been a while since she had her shoes on, but she is very gifted. She’s getting married in April.

My sons Harry and Oscar have danced all their lives and continue to enjoy it and make a modest living. So I’m happy because it keeps them fit and it keeps us close.

My youngest daughter, Teisha, is also a good dancer with great timing and groove. She’s been gifted with a good singing voice, so she has fallen in love with singing and her tap dancing is taking a back seat for now. I hope she gets back into it, but it’s up to her.

You asked do I think do you have to be natural or can you be taught?. It’s a hard question to answer. I do believe though if you have passion, dedication and work hard, you can be good, and even great, at anything.  A natural gift only gives you an advantage at the start, it’s just a head start. 

What is the most difficult thing about tap dancing?

The most difficult thing about tap dancing is making a living!
It’s an art form that takes years to become fluent in, to have good flow and a style that you can adapt to different tempos and styles of music, knowing when to improvise and when to pull out a move.

Are there other tappers busking still?

I don’t know of any other tappers regularly working the street in Melbourne these days. Over the years, quite a few of my students have gone out and done time on the street. I’ve always encouraged it and try to take the kid tap dance students out at least once a year to work the hat.

It’s great to see their little faces light up when they see money going in the hat and people applauding them for doing what they’ve been practicing in the studio.

What are your standout memories from performing or busking?

The greatest moment for me was meeting my hero, Gregory Hines, in New York, then dancing while he was in the audience and him coming up to me after, and being so happy with what he saw, it always lights me up remembering that. 

Busking highlights have been just people coming up and saying I’ve made their day, really cheered them up, I find that really rewarding. A few times $100 notes have gone in the hat, which is always a financial buzz.

Do you still feel joy dancing, even when the audience may not be showing their appreciation in your hat?

 I do still enjoy the street, even if there’s no money going in the hat or people stopping. I’ve been doing it long enough to know the appreciation doesn’t always have to be right in front of you. I’ve had people come up and give me money and say “I’ve been watching you all year from my office window and really enjoyed you.”

Sometimes you’ll catch the look in a kid’s eye who has suddenly become intrigued. A few of my students who have gone on to become successful tap dancers first saw tap as kids walking past me in Melbourne City and they asked their parents to stop and then they came to my school.

So yes, it’s awesome when a crowd gathers at the exact time as your jam starts to cook and a lot of coin goes in the hat, but the nature of what I, and my boys, The Swift Brothers, do, is up and down like life. It’s a matter of enjoying the process. Jam, find a flow, dance for yourself first and let the audience choose to come to that (or not). But when they do, hit them with the good stuff.

Would you have survived those early days without busking?

Before I became respected in the dance community, the street was my main income. I wouldn’t have survived without busking. I used to knock about with a few jazz musicians and pick up a few bucks performing in bars as well, but it was mainly the street. Over time, I started to become more known in the dance world and I was able to set up my own classes and now teaching is my main income and busking is more for the love of the dance.

What advice do you give a young person today who wants to try tapping on the streets?

My advice to young (or old) people is to just do it!

Practice on your tap board so you’re used to the size, face away from the mirrors in your studio, turn your music down low cos on the street your music is much quieter than when it’s blasting out of your studio stereo and definately if you can talk, don’t just dance. Say hello, thank you, etc. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. Believe in yourself. Dancing for people is a good thing to be doing. 

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

The homeless, it’s become a lot more common now than when I started busking.

These days, we’re competing for patches with homeless people holding out a hat. I’ve always got on good with the homeless or people of the street and I’ll share a bit of my coin around.

I figure the street is a stage for me, but for some it is their home, where they sleep and dream. I hear there are some modern countries where there is no homelessness so it is possible…

If you could choose a song that sums up life for you, what would it be?

God made me Funky .. it’s a cool song by the Headhunters.

What’s next for Grant Swift and Rhythm Tap Melbourne?

I have no idea, it’s really just day to day. I just like to see people coming in, new faces, old friends.

I haven’t produced an event for a few years, like a festival, jazz or tap night or theatre show and I haven’t travelled for a while either.

Perhaps I’ll put a show together as I’m getting older, with a bit of history, maybe I could allow myself to make it personal, like a bit of a telling of my story.

Keeping fit, healthy and seeing my kids thrive is what drives me. Being able to enjoy tap dancing without being obsessed with hours of practice is a good place to be now. I’ve done the 12 hour and 8 hour practice years, now it’s all enjoyment. I practice for a couple of hours now and get what I need to be happy, it’s my therapy.

Grant, Harry and Oscar Swift

So that’s Grant Swift, a very humble guy, with a really cool story. If you want to watch further videos or find out more about Grant and his sons, The Swift Brothers, or if you want to learn to do what they do, visit their socials here:

Web: http://rhythmtapmelbourne.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/australiantapdance/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rhythmtapmelbourne/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AustralianTAPdance



Busker What’s Your Story? GREX


“My inspirations are Freddie Mercury, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley, Tones and I and LP. I think I took a little bit from all of them to créate my own style, but I don’t even know which style that is!”

GREX sings her original song ‘Uh’

And now for something really different. GREX is a street performer from Madrid, Spain, whose Bob Marley locks and diminutive frame combine with her very cool vocals and zesty acoustics to create a vibe that’s something truly unique.

We invited GREX to the blog to find out more about this intriguing young artist.

How old are you and where did you grow up?

I’m 24. I was born in Argentina but I moved to Spain (Madrid) when I was 6 years old. So I grew up here in Madrid.

What interesting things can you tell me about yourself?

Music is my life, I started singing when I was like 8 years old, more or less, and I started to play the guitar at 10 and also began composing then.

I moved to London in 2016, where I discovered the Busker’s world and I’ve been living by the music and doing all music stuff since then. I write poetry too!

How long have you been busking?

I’ve been busking for 4 years. I started in London and I busked in more countries in Europe, but not outside of Europe or the U.K. yet.

Who are your musical inspirations and why?

I could say my inspirations are Freddie Mercury, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley, I also like Tones and I and LP.

For me, all of those, and all the 80’s and 90’s artists are an inspiration, I’ve been listening to all of them since I was like 3 years old.

I think I took a little bit from all of them to créate my own style, but I don’t even know which style that is!

What are some great moments you have had while busking?

Almost all of them. Getting to know new people, every day you can hear great things that the people say about your music, you see everybody enjoyng and dancing and almost every day at least one person comes up and says that you made their day. For me, that is really satisfying.

I also saw people crying while listening to my music, that makes me feel the best human ever.

To be honest, every moment is special for me, every day is different and at the same time, just as I make their day, they make mine.

Do you use an Eftpos Square? Do you think busking can survive an increasingly cashless world?

No I dont use one. I think of course we will survive, like everything in this world, we can adapt our busking kit, for example using an Eftpos Square or some other technology.

Picking one of your original songs, what can you tell me about the story behind your lyrics?

‘I don’t feel at home’ is my last song. It talks about the anxiety, when you feel that you are not part of this world anymore, even if you are with all the people who you love.

I think all of us feel that, at least once in our lives. That feeling that you only wanna stay in your bed the whole day, that is what ‘I don’t feel at home’ means, because when you are in that situation you can’t feel at home, anywhere.

GREX performs her original ‘I don’t feel at home’

If you could choose a lyric from any song, that’s special to you, what would it be?

I would pick ‘’La guitarra’’ – Los autenticos decandentes.

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given, or that you would give someone else?

Before starting to busk I asked one busker about it called Nik Davis, he is based in London, he told me to do it and I said to myself, ‘’why not?’’

So I did it.

If I have to give some advice I would say do it with passion, have fun, respect everybody and always take a risk and try!

What’s next for GREX?

For this year, 2020, I will start travelling, busking around Europe. I want to be known in more countries.

I’ll post one new álbum and new Live videos!

Hear and see more from GREX on her socials:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GREXMIL/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/grebor_/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/GREXMIL

Busker What’s Your Story? Paul Guseli – Lousy with mines

Lousy with mines

“You can tell when it’s cooking, when the vibe’s right. Other people look at it like a rubbish truck having convulsions coming up the street. If it makes people smile, I’m rapt!”

Paul Guseli

Popular urban street drummer Paul Guseli who performs as ‘Lousy with mines’ is a Melbourne institution.

Paul’s energised street performances are created with over 50 pieces of recycled waste – everything from pots, pans, bells, whistles, biscuit tins and plastic bottles provide the tools for his admirable percussion skills, attracting the attention of passers-by with his techno-inspired show.

It all began around five years ago when Guseli was working as a kitchen-hand in his brother’s Carlton restaurant. The sounds of a busy kitchen and the clattering of pots and pans were the inspiration behind what would become a musical institution on the streets of Melbourne’s CBD.

Guseli now operates as a full-time street performer and though he survives well on his takings, he’s certainly had some interesting deposits in his time – “people just scrape everything out of their pockets. I’ve had sim cards, a lot of lint, lacker bands, one earring, lighters, even a fingernail,” he told Corinna Hente of MOJO in 2018.

We filmed ‘Lousy with mines’ on a sunny Sunday afternoon in November on Melbourne’s Swanston Street. This high energy, focused performer did not stop for long enough for us to chat with him, but there was no denying the crazy talent of Paul Guseli.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/bangonmelbs/

Busker What’s Your Story? Kiah Spurle

“Dame Kelly Holmes (British Double Gold Medallist, middle distance athlete) told me to never give up on my dreams. I was 7 years old at the time and performing at an event she attended.

Busking has helped me to maintain eye contact. I am naturally very shy. It’s taken me years to put on an act really. If I act like I am confident, it helps me to actually become confident.”

Kiah Spurle

Kiah Spurle is a 12 year old British national with a big voice. Drawn to singing at a very young age, Kiah would sing along with Andrea Boccelli on the TV and when she got a little older Adele became her favourite performer.

Kiah took up busking to build her confidence when performing and as a way to practice maintaining eye contact with her audience, something she felt she needed to develop as she is a shy young lady by nature.

We invited Kiah along to Busker What’s Your Story? to find out a little more.

How often and where abouts do you busk?

I go busking every two weeks in the Winter, and more in the Spring and Summer months. I mostly busk around London and the South of England.

What are your best moments from busking? Do you feel intimidated on the streets?

My most memorable moments busking are the amazing people that support me. People are genuinely really kind and want the best for me. Some stop and chat to me and my mum and it really means a lot to both of us. My Mum comes with me every time I busk, so I feel safe. I always have the support of adults and friends around me.

Is there anything you don’t like about busking?

The most difficult thing about busking is getting set up! Haha! Everything is heavy and lots of leads etc.

What do you do with the money you earn from busking?

I save my money from busking to use when I start recording my own music. Studio time is very expensive and I like to pay my own way for everything that I achieve.

If you could choose a lyric from any song that means something special to you, what would that lyric be?

I like the lyric: “We Are All One” it’s also the song title of my latest song. It means that we are all equal. We all have something that we are talented in. We just have to find it within ourselves.

Who are your musical inspirations?

My all time favourite singer is Adele. I just love her voice obviously but, she is just so down to earth and honest. I’m loving Billie Eilish at the moment too!

What’s some great advice you’ve received in your young lifetime so far?

Dame Kelly Holmes (British Double Gold Medalist in middle distance running) told me to never give up on my dreams. I was 7 years old at the time and singing at an event that she attended.

What’s next for you Kiah?

I write my own songs and will be recording a new EP soon.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kiahspurle/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/kiahspurle/

Busker What’s Your Story? All that Albury Jazz


“Some of you young folks been saying to me, Hey Pops, what you mean what a wonderful world? How about all them wars all over the place, you call them wonderful? And how about hunger and pollution? They ain’t so wonderful either.’

“But how about listening to old Pops for a minute. It seems to me it ain’t the world that’s so bad, but what we’re doing to it, and all I’m saying is see what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance. Love, baby, love. That’s the secret. Yeah. If lots more of us loved each other we’d solve lots more problems. And man, this world would be a gasser.

Louis Armstrong

Perhaps old Pops was on to something? There’s no happier music than jazz music.

We’ve been fortunate in the regional city of Albury in recent months to have been treated to some excellent jazz and big band street performances from visiting musos for the 74th Australian Jazz Convention and from the Kapooka Army Band in QEII Square at an event to raise awareness around domestic violence.

The Kapooka Army Band and a Street Parade to open the 74th Annual Jazz Convention held in Albury, NSW

While this lot aren’t buskers – they’re just as joyful and we wanted to share the love with everyone here at Busker What’s Your Story?

Catch the Australian Kapooka Army Band performing at The Cube Wodonga in May – https://www.facebook.com/events/599635454202125/

Read more about the Australian Jazz Convention here – https://www.facebook.com/AustralianJazzConvention/

Busker What’s Your Story? Willy Golightly & Rowan Brown

Willy Golightly & Rowan Brown

Heading out to Beechworth on a leisurely Saturday in January, to support what had earlier become a bit of a ghost town during the devastating bushfires, Busker What’s Your Story? was delighted to discover two old timers in the main street enjoying a cheeky impromptu busk.

It was Beechworth folk/blues musician Willy Golightly’s birthday. He said the bushfires in surrounding regions had put everyone on edge and he wanted to do something to lighten things up a bit.

Setting up to busk with his guitar on Ford Street, Willy was chuffed when his old friend and double base player Rowan Brown from Woolshed/Eldorado (whom he hadn’t seen for ages) decided to join him on the spot for a good old fashioned jam.

It was wonderful to stumble upon these joyful musicians doing what they could to brighten up the smokie town. Once again, it was music bringing people together.

Busker What’s Your Story? Hudson Rose

Hudson Rose

“I have been busking for about three years now. Last year at the Tamworth Country Music Festival I was lucky enough to be selected as a top ten finalist in the busking competition and had the chance to perform on the main stage in Toyota Park on the last night.”

“I write my own material also. ‘Family Heart’ (for example) is a song I wrote for my Nan. She was diagnosed with cancer when my mum was only 17 and was told back then she had three years to live. She is still alive today, although this last year has been the hardest one yet. She has never been to one of my gigs; so I wrote a song for her.” 

Hudson Rose

At just 17 years of age, Hudson Rose is a young lady whose star is definately rising. In 2020 she has already performed 14 shows at the coveted Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF) and been bestowed the Young Person of the Year Award at MidCoast Council’s 2020 Australia Day ceremony (under her real name, Georgia Hudson).

It was the young artist’s fourth foray to TCMF. “I opened for Queensland band Homegrown. They were on ‘The Voice’ last year. That was really really cool. And I got to play on the Fanzone Stage in the heart of Peel Street, and the HSF Artists’ Showcase,” Hudson told Julia Driscoll of the Manning River Times.

We’re delighted that Hudson has accepted our invitation to Busker What’s Your Story? to talk about her music and her busking experiences.

You grew up on the mid North Coast? It seems to be a great breeding ground for country singers and musicians.

Yes, my hometown is Wingham. I love it! It’s a community that is very supportive towards my music. After a long trip away, there’s nothing like coming back home.  

How often and where do you busk?

I’ve busked at a few festivals and markets along the Mid North Coast (as well as the Tamworth Country Music Festival) and it has truly helped me to become the artist I am today.

Now I do gigs every weekend (it’s the best part of the week) to keep me busy. I believe every opportunity to perform is an opportunity to keep getting better. 

I also love to get together with other musicians and I attend the Peppertown Jam each month in Newcastle. With no rehearsal or practice, you get up on stage with the band and play your songs. It’s the best feeling!

How would you describe the difference for a musician between busking and gigging?

I enjoy both!

When busking, people choose to stop and listen. They chat to you between songs and ask questions. I think sometimes there is more interaction when you’re busking. Sometimes at gigs, you need to work harder to maintain the interest and engage the audience. 

At first, getting gigs was hard for me. It is completely different to busking, as the majority of the time you have an audience (and they are always listening and watching – even if it doesn’t seem like it) so always being enthusiastic and engaging (as well as professional) is very important. 

How do you engage people’s attention in a busy pub scenario?

It’s important to be enjoying what you are doing and having fun. If you seem interesting and inviting, people want to listen more. Looking at people, reading body language and talking to the audience helps to determine what people are looking for and helps you then develop the setlists accordingly. 

Any standout memories from busking?

I’ve been busking for about three years now. Last year at the TCMF I was lucky enough to be selected as a top ten finalist in the busking competition and had the chance to perform on the main stage in Toyota Park on the last night. That was such an incredible experience for me. It motivated me to become better at my craft and to then perform on those stages more often.

When people are singing or dancing to your music, it is the best feeling! Music has so much to offer and really speaks the language of everyone. 

You write your own material. Picking a couple of your favourites, what can you tell us about your originals?

I love writing my own songs, I think it is such a great way to express yourself.

The interesting thing I’ve learned, is that there are people who relate to the songs I write. I have been writing songs for about two years now and am hoping to release a couple of singles later this year. 

‘Hey Now’ is a fun, feel good song, about all the little things you experience and expect as you get older. 

‘Family Heart’ is a song I wrote for my Nan. She was diagnosed with cancer when my mum was only seventeen and was told she had three years to live. She is still alive today, although this last year has been the hardest one yet. She has never been to one of my gigs and so I wrote this song for her. 

Tell us a little bit more about your experiences in Tamworth

This was my fourth year attending the festival and it keeps getting better and better each year!

In 2019 I was selected as a top ten busker to compete on the main stage on the last night. While in 2020 I still busked, as a 2019 finalist, I was not eligible to be selected again. Busking is still a favourite of mine. 

This year I was doing more gigs than ever before as well as networking and meeting some amazing people and artists. 

What’s something really interesting about Hudson Rose?

My mum says if I was not a musician, I would be a comedian! I have some pretty good jokes (if I do say so myself)…

And some great advice you’ve been given along your journey?

One piece of advice that has stuck with me is to ‘stay in your lane and do your thing’ and ‘no one is more you, than you’.

A good friend and mentor of mine Jackson James said that to me at just the right time.

Where else can people see you gig or busk this year?

I regularly do gigs up and down the Mid North Coast from South West Rocks to Sydney. If you keep an eye on my Facebook page (Hudson Rose Music) I post all my upcoming gigs and performances.

Love to see you at one!

Image Credit: Bob McGahon Photography

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/hudsonrosemusic/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/hudsonrosemusic/

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr0j3SmHMlOPbbWxidp5qEQ

Busker What’s Your Story? Cainan Russell

Cainan Russell

“I’ve had plenty of amazing experiences while busking. There’s been a few instances when people have donated upwards of $120. I’ve had people propose to their girlfriend while I was playing. After one of my sets, I had some guy pay me $100 to play one song on the beach while he proposed to his girlfriend.

Unfortunately there’s a few bad experiences too. Drunk girls try to kiss me, because the lyrics of the song say: “darling kiss me.” I’ve had death threats because some drug addict didn’t like Ed Sheeran and drunk people falling on me and knocking everything over.” 

Cainan Russell

Twenty-one year old Gold Coast busker Cainan Russell was 8 when he moved to Australia with his family from his birth nation of South Africa.

After seeing a few videos of Cainan busking and playing gigs on the Gold Coast we invited him to Busker What’s Your Story? to find out more about this young acousic/pop/alternative artist.

How competitive is the busking scene on the Gold Coast? Is it difficult to book a spot in Cavill Mall? Is there an audition process?

It’s not too competitive; everyone is friendly and you get to know all the other buskers. You do however have to audition to receive a permit.

 Where do you busk apart from Cavill Mall?

I busk in Brisbane (South Bank), Broadbeach and at Pacific fair shopping centre as well as surfers paradise of course.

What are some memorable experiences you’ve had while busking?

I’ve had plenty of amazing experiences while busking, every time you go out you never know what to expect.

People are so generous sometimes. There’s been a few instances where people have donated upwards of $120.

I’ve had people propose to their girlfriends while I was playing. After one of my sets, I had some guy pay me $100 to play one song on the beach while he proposed to his girlfriend.

Unfortunately there’s a few bad experience too. I’ve had drunk girls try to kiss me, because the lyrics of the song were “darling kiss me.” I’ve had death threats because some drug addict didn’t like Ed Sheeran. I’ve had drunk people falling on me and knocking everything over (mic stand and guitar case.)

Recently I was busking in Cavill Mall and I had about $100 in notes in a jar (I keep all the notes in a jar so they don’t blow away in the wind). Mid-song, I had some random homeless guy run up and steel it. My dad tried to catch him but he was too fast; we reported it to the police and they caught him a few days later but unfortunately I never got the money back. 

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

“When I’m away, I will remember how you kissed me,
Under the lamp post, back on Sixth street,
Hearing you whisper through the phone,
“Wait for me to come home”

They’re from Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Photograph,’ I like them because they’re so relatable. Everyone experiences distance in a relationship and as long as you remember the special moments that made you fall in love, then you will always find your way home. 

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

As time goes on, the more you practice you can only get better. If you’re not happy where you are now, just keep going. You will get better.

You’re a singer/songwriter, what can you tell us about your own material? 

I’m constantly writing new songs and coming up with ideas for songs. Currently I’m working on a 5 track EP and I hope to have it out near the end of the year.

What’s something interesting or unusual about Cainan Russell?

I’m not sure, but I only started singing and playing guitar 3 years ago, in my last year of school (2016) I didn’t even know that I could sing!

Here’s a video recorded in 2018 by Cainan that gives an excellent insight into a day in the life of a Gold Coast busker.

In this video you’ll follow Cainan for a day of busking (including the girl who takes his lyrics a little too literally). You’ll also hear some more of Cainan’s great vocals and acoustic guitar.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cainanrussell/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/cainanrussell/

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnn3JX2tbHlXnuUriFutxxA

Busker What’s Your Story? Sunny Acc’s

Sunny Acc’s

I mainly busk in my hometown of Munich. Busking in Germany is quite different compared to busking in Australia. There are strict rules in Germany for buskers. For example, you’re not allowed to busk amplified, it’s quite a big process you have to go through to get a permit and there are only a few spots to busk in the city centre. But still I really enjoy it.”

Sunny Acc’s

Sunny’s Facebook profile says she’s just a small town girl, singing in a lonely world. We wanted to find out more about this 22 year old singer/songwriter and street performer from Germany.

Sunny was born in the Bavarian Capital of Munich but her busking adventures began right here in Australia in Melboune in 2015.

What brought you to Australia?

When I finished school, and after that an apprenticeship as a bilingual assistant, it didn‘t feel right to start working straight away. So my boyfriend and I decided to take a year off to explore Australia and also to improve our language skills. Which (thinking back now) was the absolute right thing to do. 

What are some memorable moments from busking in Australia and Germany?

I guess the most memorable moment in Australia was my first busking day. I was really  nervous with just my voice and my guitar. But I started to really enjoy it after the first few songs. So my boyfriend noticed that and went straight off to buy a microphone and an amp to make it a little more professional. That was a very big step at that time and I think that also set the stone for where I am now. 

In Germany it was very special for me to busk in front of my family and friends for the first time. They couldn’t see me busking in Australia, so I really enjoyed showing them my passion for street music first hand. 

Where do you busk in Germany? How does the busking experience differ in Germany to what it is like in Australia?

I mainly busk in Munich. Busking in Germany is quite different compared to busking in Australia. There are strict rules in Germany for buskers. For example you’re not allowed to busk amplified, it’s quite a big process you have to go through to get a permit and there are only a few spots to busk in the city centre. But still I really enjoy it. 

The best thing about busking in Australia is that you’re allowed to use an amplifier. That makes it so much easier to be heard amongst heaps of people walking the streets and it really gives you the feeling of being on a stage. 

What do you like most about busking?

The street is my stage. That’s what I really like about busking.

I can play my music for a lot of people and the ones who enjoy it will stay and listen. That way I can reach a lot of people and also practice my performance.

Also, you meet a lot of inspiring people and other street artists.

Do you always feel safe busking on the streets? Have you had any worrying moments?

I feel safe, as my boyfriend is with me most of the time to watch out. If that wasn’t the case, it would be different. There are situations that you don’t want to face alone. 

If you could choose a lyric from any song that sums up life for you, what would that lyric be?

That’s a hard question! There are a lot of songs with great lyrics. But if I had to choose one right now, it would be: ‘We‘re just one big family and it‘s our godforsaken right to be loved” (it’s from “I‘m yours” by Jason Mraz). I always feel connected to that line when I play that song myself. 

What is your real name? What’s something interesting about you?

Sunny is actually the short form of my real name Susanna. And Acc’s is just a short form of ‘acoustics’ as I usually play acoustic music. 

Something interesting about me? Let me think. Is working full time as a musician interesting? I think so.

Tell us a little about your original music.

I would describe my own music style as a futuristic singer songwriter.

I’m currently working on my first studio album and I’m really excited to show the world in the next few weeks.

I write about inspiring moments or people. I get most of my inspiration when I’m in nature. There’s something calm and peaceful about it. 

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given and who gave you that advice?

The best advice my parents gave me was to trust my gut and follow my instincts. It’s better to try and fail than not to try at all.

What’s next for Sunny Acc’s?

Well, first I’m working on finishing my studio album and then of course, I will release it.

After that, I’ll see what life has to offer. I definitely want to go back to Australia one day. Until then, I’ll keep on practicing and working on my music.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Sunnyaccsmusic/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sunny.accs_music/

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSxE5Jr7ayv3P0H-fPjSH5A

Busker What’s Your Story? Josephine Shaw

Josephine Shaw

“I’m part of the Busk in London scheme, meaning I have a license to busk in the train stations around London, but more regularly I go to Kingston Upon Thames to busk in the marketplace. It’s a wonderful space with street food stalls, shops and lots of people willing to stop and listen on a weekend.

There’s always the opportunities I get from busking. London is such a vibrant and creative city, and you never know when the right person is going to walk past and give you an incredible opportunity!”

Josephine Shaw

At just 16 years of age, Josephine Shaw’s classically trained vocals are not what you would expect to encounter as you rush to London’s Waterloo Station or stroll the pavements of Kingston Upon Thames. But hear them you will, if you are lucky enough.

This young singer has a vocal maturity way beyond her years. Born in Chicago, USA, Josephine’s American parents moved to the UK when she was only three. She says her accent is Mid-Atlantic – “a strange mix of American and British that I’ve picked up from my parents.”

We invited Josephine to Busker What’s Your Story? so you could hear her beautiful voice and we could find out a little more about her musical theatre aspirations and her busking experiences.

You have an incredible voice. What drew you to musical theatre and singing?

I feel like I’ve always had a love for singing. I was that weird kid making constant strange noises or humming to myself, much to the annoyance of my family! When I was around eight or nine I started taking lessons, which made me realise how much I loved to express myself through performance.

I saw my first musical, Wicked, for my eighth birthday, and was obsessed! I listened to the soundtrack on repeat, and I loved how musicals expertly combine acting, singing and dance, and that such uplifting, moving and fantastical stories can be told through this wonderful art form.

Do you play an instrument?

I play piano, but when I busk I tend to use backing tracks to get that orchestral sound that fits really well with classical music. When I recorded my EP, titledNightingale, Ben Robbins, the producer of the album, provided me with some really high quality backing tracks for some of my songs, that I now use when busking. They’re beautiful, and it really enhances the experience.

Do you write your own material?

I currently don’t, but I would love to.

Being a classical singer, most repertoire performed is already written unless you are a composer, and with musicals, most songs that I sing are from, well, musicals!

When I was in LA for the first time over the summer, I met up with musician and songwriter Justin James, he helped me write my first song, called ‘Pause’. It’s about taking time for yourself in such a busy, pressured and stressful world. It hasn’t been produced, but if you scroll back a little on my Instagram page to July, (or go to my IGTV), you can find it. It was such a great experience, and I feel like songwriting is a deeper way to express myself through music that I want to explore in the future.

Where do you busk and how many times a week would you busk?

I’m part of the Busk in London scheme, meaning I have a license to busk in the train stations around London, but more regularly I go to Kingston Upon Thames to busk in the marketplace. It’s a wonderful space with street food stalls, shops and lots of people willing to stop and listen on a weekend.

As I’m 16 and am still in school full-time, I busk once a week, generally on Saturdays and Sundays when the market is busiest at lunch. However if it’s during school holidays, you’ll find me busking a lot more often!

Josephine busks on her 16th Birthday

You’re not a ‘typical’ busker. Was it intimidating at first to sing on the streets?

I actually wasn’t that intimidated at first to go busking!

While I have a tendency to get nervous about small things in day to day life, performing is when I feel most at home and true to myself.

I feel like I was very encouraged by seeing other buskers performing, especially in Kingston, which is very close to my home. Not too long before I started busking, it felt like the streets were filling up with more and more buskers, and I was becoming more aware of them.

Christmas was on its way, and I felt inspired to try it out myself (singing Christmas carols and other songs to spread some Christmas joy). I did really well, and it was a very positive experience for me, so I’ve been doing it ever since.

What are some special moments so far from busking?

Something that’s very rewarding for me as a singer is to see the reaction I get from my audience when I busk. Music can be an incredibly powerful thing, and when someone tells me that my music moved them emotionally, it means a lot!

I also love when people tell me that they’ve started to enjoy classical music after listening to me sing. Classical-crossover is a genre I love, which combines classical music and other styles, and I really believe it has the capacity to reach a wider audience.

And there’s always the opportunities I get from busking. London is such a vibrant and creative city, and you never know when the right person is going to walk past and give you an incredible opportunity! Just from busking, I’ve been asked to sing for weddings, a yoga class featuring live music, and for the prestigious Coutts Bank on the Strand, London.

What is a favourite lyric from any song that means something to you?

One of my most popular songs is Nella Fantasia. It’s in Italian, and I absolutely love the meaning of the lyrics. One of the verses translates;

In my fantasy, I dream of a just world, where people live in peace and honesty. I dream of souls who are always free, that soar like clouds, full of humanity, in the depths of the soul.’

In this time we are constantly hearing news of wars, grief, unjustness and suffering. Yet this song encourages listeners to hope and act for a better world, to dream about how the world could be. I hope that people take some steps themselves, however small, to move forward despite the worldly struggles we encounter and get a bit closer to that dream.

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve received in your young life so far?

Something that has been very significant for me as of late is working on my self confidence, especially when interacting with other people in the music industry.

I feel my most confident when I perform, but when I’m talking to others I find myself diminishing my own achievements, in fear of sounding cocky or unrealistic.

My parents have been so wonderful in supporting my dream to have a music career, and they’ve really encouraged me to be confident in myself and clear in my communication with others.

Something that is also vital to remember is to be kind. Kindness goes a long way, and being confident in yourself doesn’t mean you’re putting others down! The music industry can be very competitive and sometimes even toxic, and it’s important to remember to support other musicians to help create the positive community we know the music industry should be. And when you’re confident in yourself and have a network of other lovely musicians who support you, it’s easier to face the risk of rejection from auditions, and maintain a healthy attitude to keep following your dreams even when it gets difficult.

You have such a mature voice for 16. Have you auditioned for stage shows yet?

Thank you! Yes, I’m currently 16 so it’s sometimes a struggle to balance all my school work as well as my music career at the same time, but I’ve managed to stay on top of it so far!

When I was younger I auditioned for the child roles in musicals, like Matilda, Young Cosette or Young Fiona from Shrek the Musical, but now I’m 16, I’m at that phase where I’m too old for child parts, but too young to be hired for adult roles.

I’m currently looking for an agent, so by the time I’m 18 I can audition for musicals. I am also passionate about being a solo artist, which means that while I can’t audition yet, I can work on producing another classical-crossover album, and getting more performance opportunities as a solo artist. I would love to open for another classical-crossover musician on a tour.

What’s next for Josephine Shaw? Will you busk for us here in Australia one day?

In the next few years I’m planning to get another album out, and by then hopefully I’ll have a bigger following of people who are invested in listening to the music I have to share.

It’s a dream of mine to be signed with a record label to help produce that album, and by the time I’m 18, I want to be signed with an agent for Film, TV and Theatre, and auditioning for musicals too.

I’m considering taking a gap year after I finish my A-Levels (More British exams taken across the country to get into university), so that I can dedicate time to developing my career and making connections – I’m even hoping to live in LA for a few months.

I’ve never been to Australia before, but I would absolutely love to go. Being a fan of Opera, Sydney Opera House is a must-see for me, and I have some friends who have moved over there that I need to visit. I would love to busk over there if I ever get the chance, and a gap year would be the perfect opportunity to try!