Busker What’s Your Story? Patrick Lionel

Image Credit: Alex Rothmeier

Patrick Lionel

“Busking for me was a full time job. I had to do it even on days that I didn’t want to and wasn’t feeling inspired. This made me hone my craft immensely in two years; it made me improve exponentially and I noticed more and more that people were paying attention.

I realised that the smallest details can mean the difference between an okay performance and an amazing performance. It’s a challenge I set myself on stage too; in a noisy bar I would try and create silence… That’s when you know you’ve done well.”

Patrick Lionel

Patrick Lionel is a Melbourne based singer/songwriter who combines mesmerising vocals with delicate guitar lines, leaving his audience spellbound, focused intently on the performer.

We invited Patrick to the blog because he has a load of busking experience in Melbourne and is an articulate and reflective artist, whose insights we really appreciate – we hope you will too!

You’re just 21, tell us more about Patrick Lionel and his music

I was raised in a town called Heathcote, about half an hour drive from Bendigo. I did many of my first gigs in Bendigo, as well as doing my schooling there.

Yes, I recently turned 21 and I’m currently living in Melbourne; I’d much prefer to live in the country, but for work (as well as for music) the city provides many more opportunities. 

I’ve only officially released two songs at this stage, but if I earn enough money I’ll get back into the studio this year to record more. Recording them was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. I was able to receive the help and guidance from Jordie Lane throughout the entire process, which was a dream come true and a huge story within itself!

My first release ‘Forgive Yourself‘ ‘ was a song I completed writing only a couple of weeks before going into the studio. It was a song that wrote itself basically, stemming from a deeply distressing experience that unfolded in my life at the time; but the song came at the perfect time and I was able to take it into the studio. 

Patrick Lionel Original – Forgive Yourself

Caroline,’ my most recent release, was a song that I’ve had for quite a while now. Unlike ‘Forgive Yourself’ ‘ it has no personal story; it would be what you call fiction for most part! Although they’re both different in that aspect, I love them both. I feel that although ‘Caroline’ is not related to any particular experience in my life, someone out there will still relate to it, and hopefully experience some sort of emotive response to it in one way or another.

Patrick Lionel Original – Caroline

Tell us more about your busking experiences

When I first moved to Melbourne 3 years ago, I would busk most days of the week. I didn’t have a job, so busking was my main source of income for the most part of two years!

Nowadays I have a job, and although it’s rewarding being able to save money; it has become a detriment to my music. From playing all the time (to barely picking up the guitar) was a struggle which I became unaware of.

But time without playing has allowed me to reflect on what I want in the future, and 2020 will be more of a balancing act between work and music. I’m looking forward to it. 

Busking for me was (back then) a full time job. I had to do it even on days that I didn’t want to and wasn’t feeling inspired. This made me hone my craft immensely in two years; it made me improve exponentially and I noticed more and more that people were paying attention.

I realised that the smallest details can mean the difference between an okay performance and an amazing performance. This allowed me to become better on stage also, and I was beginning to form a reputation in my area which was a very rewarding feeling.  

Performing is very much a selfish thing. I do it because I love it. But it’s just as (if not more) rewarding to see other people enjoy it. That’s what I love most about busking; seeing people who I’ve never met before, or held a conversation with, respond to my music on an emotional level that only a song can evoke. 

But it’s a double edged sword. I had many days where I’d be disheartened after busking, not because I didn’t earn much, but because sometimes it makes you see the worst side of humanity. What hurt me most was when I would be putting all my vulnerabilities on show for people (which is what performing is) and watching people walk on by without any acknowledgment at all.

It still astounds me today how and why this is. It is incredibly sad that people can be caught up in their own world so much, that they shut off all senses. This also made me challenge myself to try and get those same people to at least acknowledge my presence, and maybe even enjoy what I was doing!

It’s a challenge I set myself on stage too; in a noisy bar I would try and create silence…. That’s when you know you’ve done well.

Patrick Lionel creates some silence with this cover of ‘If We Were Vampires’ by Jason Isbell

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

Lyrics have become more and more important to me as I’ve grown as a musician. Listening to lyrical masters like Jason Isbell, Joe Pug and Gregory Alan Isakov has made me want to focus on crafting better lyrics in my own songs. 

There’s not one particular lyric or line which stands out for me, because there are so many good ones. But I feel like a great song is one that is perfect in it’s entirety. And in terms of lyric, one song that does that in my opinion is ‘The Trapeze Swinger’ by Iron and Wine. That song gives me goosebumps the whole way through every time without failure.

Who are your musical inspirations and what do you love most about them?

I have so many musical inspirations which span from famous artists to friends. I feel like there can be inspiration wherever you look, you just have to listen. 

What’s something really interesting about you?

I think everyone has a belief that they are uninteresting, as I do too sometimes. But that’s only because what others consider interesting about us, we consider as the norm; it’s the familiarity and repetition of what interests us that makes it normal. So I’m sure there’d be many things which other people would consider interesting about myself, but for me, it’s just me. 

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

The most valuable piece of information (given to me when I was younger, and still trying to get my head around music) was from a friend who was in his last moments of life.

He was a well respected man in the community, who’d been playing music for a very long time, and the final time I saw him he told me to: “always keep it simple”. That was the last thing he said to me, and something which I have kept in the front of my mind since that time. 

Your Falsetto is amazing, is that something you’re shy about when you first start to sing, or does it come natural from the get-go?

Falsetto was something that I always loved. Growing up listening to Matt corby and Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) made me transfixed on the beauty of it, when it’s done well. But it was always a struggle for me, even though my voice was particularly high for a male.

As I’ve matured, it’s become easier (I’m not sure why?) but I’m sure there is a scientific reason!

I guess I have always wanted to be better at it, and practice was another factor in improvement. I’m still developing it, and there’s still much more room for improvement.

Singing as a whole for me has never been about technique; because perfection is unattainable, and sometimes the imperfections in a voice are the most impactive.

I’ve only ever had a few singing lessons in my life just to try it, but experimentation, practice and individuality are (in my opinion) the key aspects of being able to create an impactful performance.

What’s next for Patrick Lionel?

I’m really looking forward to performing more in 2020.

For the last six months or so I have been very quiet, but I’m hoping to change that soon. I’d like to record more songs and step out of my comfort zone, in order to develop myself further. I also look forward to getting back onto the street and doing some more busking! Because honestly, that is what I love doing the most.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Patrick-Lionel-2197933567086982/

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

Busker What’s Your Story? Eliza May

Eliza May

“I love the line ‘I am one step heavy and two steps high’ in the song ‘Without You’, by Oh Wonder.  I see it as such a positive line.  To me it means that even when things go wrong, there’s more good in the world than bad.”

Eliza May

Eliza May is a young singer/songwriter from Birmingham UK and a Popular Music graduate from Falmouth University.

Eliza’s passion for performing saw her begin her busking adventure around 5 years ago in Birmingham. Eliza then moved to Cornwall to study music where she says busking was an enjoyable way to help fund her studies and hone her craft.

“Around my studies, I managed to find time to visit other musician friends who lived in Liverpool and took the opportunity to busk there as well.  It was a great experience, busking all around the UK; it allowed me to meet lots of new people and get my music out to different parts of the country,” she says.

There is a chilled indie pop vibe to Eliza’s original music which she says takes inspiration from artists such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Tori Kelly, Skinny Living and Frank Turner. She has released four singles on Spotify and an EP titled Inner Damage on Soundcloud.

Eliza continues to busk and is also gigging regularly around Birmingham and other areas of the UK as a solo artist with her full band.

We’ve invited Eliza to Busker What’s Your Story? to find out a little more about her experiences as a busker.

You grew up in Birmingham, what can you tell us about your childhood there?

I spent a lot of my time focused on music. From the age of 3, I started singing along to Avril Lavigne and picked up the guitar at the age of 6.  

Growing up, I realised that I loved everything about music and spent my childhood immersed in it.  I’ve always had a passion for singing and learning instruments,  any instrument I could get my hands on and learn to play.

How much time would you spend busking?

When I was in Birmingham, I’d often busk at least two or three times a week and when I was studying in Cornwall, I’d busk once or twice a week.

Can you share some memorable moments?

I think the best moments when busking are when other people can get involved with the experience.  

In 2017, I used to busk with an amazing musician called Amelia Wallace.  One of my favourite most memorable moments was when we were singing together in front of a large circle of people and a woman stepped forward, into the middle, and started dancing which made the crowd cheer and clap.  It was one of the most wholesome moments I’ve experienced busking.  

Another great memory is of a Spanish man who came over and asked to play a song. I said yes and he sang the original version of Despacito flawlessly.  It was such a great performance of the song; everyone was so impressed that they started clapping and cheering.

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

I love the line “I am one step heavy and two steps high” in the song Without You by Oh Wonder.  I see it as such a positive line.  To me it means that even when things go wrong, there’s more good in the world than bad.

What’s something really interesting about you?

Well, along with being an artist, I also do a lot of community music work around the West Midlands.  

This involves working with people of all ages and abilities, including people with mental health and physical disabilities, to help get them involved with music.  

I have a strong passion for helping people get into music, no matter what experience they have. I love working in these settings because I see how much of a positive impact each project has on the people involved.

We love your collaboration with Nath Brooks called ‘Reach’ what can you tell us about that?

Nath Brooks is an upcoming singer songwriter that I met on a songwriting project at The Song Lab in Birmingham a couple of years ago.  We wrote the song “Reach” whilst on the songwriting project and near the end of 2019 managed to find the time to record it.  

We made a live video of it for his YouTube series “Brumtown and Around” which aims to showcase collaborations of people in and around Birmingham, UK.

What’s next for Eliza May?

At the moment, I’m working on my second upcoming EP.  Last year I finished writing all the songs for it; now I’m in the process of jamming out the songs with my band and then we’ll be in the recording studio laying down each track.  

I also plan on playing more full band gigs.  Last year I managed to play two massive shows with my band but this year I want to play a few more.  I can’t wait for the spring/summertime as well, so I can get back to busking on the streets.  One of my goals this year is to be busking more in London, so hopefully that’s where I’ll be next.

Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/ElizaMayOfficial/

Instagram ~ https://instagram.com/elizamayofficial

Twitter ~ https://twitter.com/elizamaymusic

Spotify ~ https://open.spotify.com/artist/4Pbpr3htIU9fvBsn2bPYno?si=lckxc2lmSLaHvRluoOgHEQ

Soundcloud ~ https://soundcloud.com/eliza_may

YouTube ~ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdZurXjn7wa_ixwduWnqqOA

Busker What’s Your Story? StephStrings

Image Credit: Lewis Warner


“I love when I’m playing and passers-by are rushing, all busy and occupied and then they stop and give me a look, almost as if to say ‘thanks for making me stop and smile’. That’s my favourite part, when people walk past with a skip in their step and it feels like I’ve positively impacted their day.”

Steph Strings
StephStrings original instrumental – Revilo

Steph is a 19 year old Melbourne born multi-instrumentalist. She released her first E.P. titled ‘Allegoric Oceans‘ in 2017 and is a regular busker at the Marketplace in Camberwell.

With influences from the John Butler Trio, Tash Sultana and Ziggy Alberts, Steph’s genre contains bursts of percussion alongside fingerstyle and indie rock.

At Busker What’s Your Story? we wanted to find out more about this young and talented independent acoustic artist.

What drew you to music as a child?

I grew up in Melbourne, surrounded by lots of family, friends and sport. Some of my earliest memories of music include driving in the car with my Dad, listening to Elvis Presley on repeat, watching my cousins jam together and going to see Ed Sheeran at my first concert when I was 14 years old.

What drew me to music was the support from my Dad and two of my cousins. They taught me a large handful of songs and showed me how much fun it was to jam and explore different sounds.

As a young person I listened to Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

What do you enjoy most about busking?

One of the best things about busking is meeting the locals and feeling a sense of community. I love when I’m playing and passers-by are rushing, all busy and occupied and then they stop and give me a look, almost as if to say ‘thanks for making me stop and smile’. That’s my favourite part; when people walk past with a skip in their step and it feels like I’ve positively impacted their day. It’s a pretty special feeling.

What do you like least about it?

There’s not too much not to like about busking, however when I finish a full day of performing and my fingers are red and raw, I guess that’s pretty annoying (yet oddly satisfying).

What are some standout moments you’ve had busking?

I’ve had plenty of funny situations. One man missed his doctor’s appointment because he listened to me for so long. Another time, a woman gave me $10 and thanked me for not playing any Christmas Carols!

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

The song ‘Time Is Dancing’ by Ben Howard is personally one of the best lyrical songs of all time, but ‘Red Moon’ by Michael Dunstan has my favourite lyric:
‘Comforting memories of summer rain on wheat. Soothing rustle of the pines in the easterlies. Open spaces, that let me breath.’

Do you think buskers will survive an increasingly cashless society?

It’s something that I’ve been concerned about recently, but I think with our ever-growing technology, there’ll be ways for people to gift performers for their art. London’s recently introduced card readers for buskers so that people can tap their card and give money; I think that idea will go global soon enough.

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

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard in relation to music is: ‘Don’t let music become a chore, it should always be a release.’ I’ve followed that, ever since I heard it.

Where can people see you busk or gig?

I busk at the Market Place in Camberwell in Melbourne and I do gigs around Fitzroy at local pubs and bars.

StephStrings original instrumental – San Remo



Busker What’s Your Story? Jeremy Kerr

Jeremy Kerr

Music was my first love, and it will be my last
Music of the future, and music of the past
To live without my music, would be impossible to do
For in this world of troubles, my music pulls me through.”

John Miles
Jeremy covers Sandstorm by Darude and Bad Guy by Billie Eilish

It was March 2017, a typical Saturday evening in Albury, NSW. Young merry-makers were wandering between the pubs in Dean Street. Albury musician, Jeremy Kerr, was set up on his usual busking corner opposite the post office.

A group of passers-by asked Jeremy to play a rendition of Darude’s Sandstorm on his Melodica, an instrument that had captured their curiosity.

An obliging fellow, Jeremy agreed. The result now lives in the Albury Music Legends Hall of Fame (well, it would, if there were one).

The video of Jeremy nailing every note of the popular rave anthem, with a small flashmob of revellers, went viral, attracting an astonishing three million views in just 24 hours after it was picked up by popular Facebook page The LADBible. The humble melodica, and the humble Jeremy, were suddenly centre stage.

The Melodica is a free-reed instrument similar to a pump organ and harmonica. It has a musical keyboard on top and is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece fitted to its side. Pressing a key opens a hole, allowing air to flow through a reed. They are popular in music education, particularly in Asia.

Wikipedia states that the instrument was popularised in the 1970s by reggae musician Augustus Pablo. We believe this needs updating to state that it was popularised one Saturday evening in Albury in 2017, by musician Jeremy Kerr!

We invited Jeremy to the blog to talk about his busking experiences, other than on that fateful occasion.

Why the Melodica?

Mostly because there’s so many guitarists out busking. I just wanted to kind of stand out from the crowd. Melodicas are not very well known so I thought instead of playing guitar, why not do something different?

Is it difficult to play?

Only as difficult as learning the piano. I had about 1 year of keyboard lessons when I was in Year 11 and it’s pretty much just the same principle as piano.

What are your most requested tunes?

Obviously Sandstorm is the standout. People just associate with me with that one now. Also the Super Mario theme is a popular one, for some reason I get asked for that quite a lot, not sure why, must be a lot of gamers out and they probably associate that one with memories from their childhood.

What other instruments do you play?

My first instrument was the classical guitar. Then I moved on to the trumpet, then I tried the tin whistle. When I was young my parents took me to the Port Fairy Folk Festival and bought me a tin whistle there. I made all sorts of random sounds on it. It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I tried to hone my skills on it and eventually, with enough practice, I learned to do all manner of things with it. I can also play the harmonica, I sing a bit, I’ve dabbled in trombone, saxphone, ukulele. Overall I can play about 6 to 7 instruments fairly competently and on top of that another 15 or so, average (very average).

Where do you do most of your singing?

I perform A Cappella with a barbershop quartet called Good Gravy. Our biggest performance was at Albury’s Carols by Candelight in 2019. We were pretty stoked with that performance. We’ve also busked regularly at the Farmer’s Market on Gateway Island as well as a few other gigs.

You busk late at night. Does that cause you any issues?

Not that I’ve experienced directly. Sometimes I’ll see a few fights but I’ve never been involved in them. One time someone started a brawl directly in front of me, in that situation there’s not much I can do except keep playing, or if it gets too close, just move out of the way. I did have to do that once, the police came and the guy was arrested.

Probably the worst I’ve had is a guy driving past winding down his window to yell: “Get a job you Hippie!”

Apart from the viral moment, what are some standout busking memories?

One night I was playing the song We Like To Party. Someone stood up on this little wall next to me and did a backflip, landing it perfectly, right on the chorus. So that was a highlight.

Another night I had my head down playing and when I looked up, Barry Morgan was standing right in front of me. I thought ‘OMG, it’s Barry Morgan!’

Barry Morgan is the character in Barry Morgan’s World of Organs, a stage show/comedy based on a fictional electronic organ salesman from Adelaide, portrayed by Australian musican and comedian Stephen Teakle.

So Barry Morgan was standing right there watching me fiddle on my organ (so to speak) and I was a bit starstruck for a moment, but thank goodness he complimented my playing.

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

Mum once gave me this advice – “you don’t have to be perfect, just be the best you can be.” That really stuck with me.

Also, one quote I read that really struck a chord with me was “if you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it, go out and get busy.”

I see you have an eftpos square – how do you find the reponse to that?

As for popularity, it’s paid itself off. I bought it on Halloween in 2017 and tips had paid for it within a couple of months. So some people definately will use it. If people don’t happen to have cash on them, it’s just a convenient option. I don’t pressure people, I just make sure they know it’s there.

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

Definately the first song that comes to mind is one by John Miles called ‘Music.’

“Music was my first love, and it will be my last. Music of the future, and music of the past. To live without my music, would be impossible to do, for in this world of troubles, my music pulls me through.”

What’s next for Jeremy Kerr?

This year, the very next thing I have planned is Australia Day. I’ll be conducting the Wodonga Brass Band for the first time ever. Our conductor is having surgery and she’s asked me to lead the band for the anthem and a few songs before the ceremony.

Also Good Gravy are looking to do a few bigger concerts during 2020 and I’ll also be performing as part of the orchestra for Monty Python’s Spamalot which is being presented by Livid Productions.



Busker What’s Your Story? Rob Falsini

Rob Falsini

“Standout moments for me are when a strong connection with the audience is built. When that happens, busking is pure magic!”

Rob Falsini

At Busker What’s Your Story? we’re thrilled that acclaimed London busker Rob Falsini accepted our invitation to the blog to tell us a little more of his story. As well as those videos we’ve featured here, you’ll find loads more on YouTube of this amazing and versatile Covent Garden standout.

Tell us a little about your music career?

I moved to London from Rome in 2003 with the aim of becoming a professional musician. After just a few months, I was approached by Cirque du Soleil composer Benoit Jutras to be the lead singer in a massive show in Las Vegas called Le Reve by Franco Dragone, a gig I performed until 2008.

During that period I did more than 1000 shows and had the chance to sing for Sting, Celine Dion, Anastacia and many others.

I came back to London in 2008 to pursue a solo career, and (thanks to a viral video taken by a tourist in 2014) I was able to build a up a strong presence online and earned the opportunity to play gigs in Uk, Ireland, Canada, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Morocco, Norway and Barhain.

I currently play gigs and busk regularly in Covent Garden in London. You’ll find me on social media as Robcoventgarden. 

What do you love about busking and what do you dislike about it?

Standout moments are when a strong connection with the audience is built, when that happens, busking is pure magic!

I like the idea that I have to start from zero, every single day.

The downside is certainly playing in bad weather conditions and occasionally dealing with annoying people.

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

I honestly don’t know how to answer this one. I don’t think busking can be summed up by a lyric… Even though it seems to be the same activity, it does change every single time. 

Do you think busking can survive an increasingly cashless society?

It is gonna be tough! Unless a truly efficient card reader is made available, that is super fast and easy. But also, the mentality of the audience must change, they have to understand that if they don’t have cash, they can still donate. It is possible, but it’s not gonna be easy.

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

I would go back when the society wasn’t becoming cashless…

What’s next for Rob Falsini?

Who knows? LOL – that’s the beauty of this profession, anything can happen! I found most of my gigs through busking and the Chasing Cars video that went viral was only shot by a tourist, so you never know what to expect.

Have you ever busked in Australia?

No, unfortunately, never – (Well we’re waiting Rob!)

Rob is also an accomplished singer/songwriter. Here he is performing a soulful original called Christmas Lullaby that he wrote for his children.



Busker What’s Your Story? Stefano Rosa

Image Credit: Alessandro Legrenzy

Stefano Rosa

“Everything that happens is totally sincere and true, whether it’s from me or from the people. Playing on the street creates a unique atmosphere, especially when little kids start dancing or jumping all over the place. They’re so funny and I’m really thankful to them for making this experience so rich in terms of emotions.”

Stefano Rosa

Thirty-two year old Stefano Rosa is an Italian musician who grew up in a small village in the north of Italy called Coccaglio in the province of Brescia. With a music teacher and choir director for a mother and a brother who played piano and composed music, it was no surprise when (at the age of 7) he followed in their path, learning classical, electric and acoustic guitar.

Stefano enjoyed success as a guitarist in the band Sunset Baby Dolls for 7 years, opening for a number of Italian and International artists. Since 2015 he has also performed as a soloist and street artist.

Busker What’s Your Story? reached out to Stefano to find out more about his busking experiences.

You grew up in Coccaglio – what are some childhood memories there?

I have beautiful and vivid memories of my childhood. Playing soccer with my friends all day long and everyday, listening to music for hours in my parents’ car while traveling, playing with my beloved dog in the garden and doing my homework in the kitchen with my brother playing the piano in the background.

What drew you to music?

My family is made up by three quarters of musicians, so it definitely did not happen by accident!
My Mother was always listening to Classical or songwriter’s music. At the age of 7 she started teaching me the basics of guitar and it all began from there.

What do you love or loathe about busking? What are some memorable moments?

I love the fact that I’m 100% free. I’m free to play wherever, whenever, however I want to (as long as I observe the cities’ regulations). Everything that happens is totally sincere and true, whether it’s from me or from the people. Playing on the street creates a unique atmosphere, especially when little kids start dancing or jumping all over the place. They’re so funny and I’m really thankful to them for making this experience so rich in terms of emotions.

I honestly don’t hate anything about busking. Maybe I could venture to say I don’t love carrying all the equipment around, especially during hot summers.

The most beautiful thing that happened to me while busking was a lovely old woman who put a 1€ coin on a wonderful embroidered silk handkerchief. How much meaning she put into that gesture! I also remember a sweet lady who came up to hug me while I was playing an Elton John song on the Nice promenade.

If you could choose a lyric from any song that is very special to you – what would that lyric be?

Chi aspetta sempre l’inverno per desiderare una nuova estate.
taken from “Lettera” by Francesco Guccini. It means: “Those who always wait for winter to wish for a new summer.”

Have you ever busked in Australia? 

No. Never. But I follow a bunch of Australian buskers on Instagram and I have to say that Australian buskers’ quality is extremely high! I also love to watch those beautiful landscapes such as beaches, piers on the ocean where they perform. I love it!

Do you think busking can survive an increasingly cashless society?

Buskers were born thousands of years ago. They started working in the oldest societies and they kept adapting to changes so I think this will happen tomorrow as well. Buskers in London already take contactless card payments. I think this system will soon spread to many other countries as well.

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

I wouldn’t change some thing on the street. I would change some people’s mindset. Often, little kids stop and stare at me singing, but their parents drag them away as if they have something essential to do on an ordinary Spring Sunday. These parents are teaching their kids not to enjoy music, or art in general, cause it is a waste of time. Mummy prefers to watch the Louis Vuitton bags in the shop windows. I really detest this behaviour. Damn! Your kid is loving listening to music, he’s enjoying staring at me, and it’s free. You don’t even have to give me a coin. Let him enjoy it!

What’s next for Stefano Rosa?

What’s next for me? Well, I’m trying to change something in my lifestyle, in my job and my leisure time. I would like to spend more time street performing and traveling.

I’ve bought a campervan which will let me live the life of a busker in a more complete and free way. I’d like to tour around Italy and Europe.

This year I will begin touring Po River from the source to the mouth. I’m ready for anything that’s waiting for me in the future.



Busker What’s Your Story? In The Groove Community Drumming

In The Groove

“My biggest musical inspirations are my teachers in West Africa. I have been very fortunate to be able to travel to Ghana on two occasions to study intensively and learn from Master drummers. There’s something very special about West African music. It’s music with a social purpose; it’s music that connects people to the moment and to each other.”

Bri Slattery – Founder of In The Groove Community Drumming

While wandering the local festivals on the lookout for buskers, Busker What’s Your Story ? came upon this cool community drumming jam at the Albury Wodonga Sustainable Living Festival in November. We asked Bri Slattery, founder of In The Groove, what community drumming is all about.

What’s ‘In The Groove’ all about?

In The Groove was inspired by both my own experience of the transformative power of rhythm, and my observations as a school teacher of how rhythm engaged and empowered my students. We share rhythm-based experiences that address four core social outcomes: education, engagement, community and well-being.

What do you all love most about what you do?

The thing I love most about what I do, is the way in which rhythm has acted as a vehicle for me to make genuine connections with a diverse range of people from all walks of life.  

What’s something memorable that’s happened when you’ve been performing?

I believe the most memorable moments don’t occur when you’re performing – rather, they occur when you are sharing the music with others – when you are actively engaged in the music together. That’s when the music truly comes alive.

There’s this amazing synchronicity – a shared, electric energy that can occur when you’re connected to others through rhythm. 

Some of my most memorable and rewarding drumming moments have been working with young people, teaching social/emotional skills through our Student Engagement Strategy. It’s amazing to witness how rhythm can teach and empower people through transforming their energy, boosting their motivation and confidence, and enabling them to connect with others.

Who are your musical inspirations?

My biggest musical inspirations are my teachers in West Africa. I have been very fortunate to be able to travel to Ghana on two occasions to study intensively and learn from Master drummers. There’s something very special about West African music.

It’s music with a social purpose; it’s music that connects people to the moment and to each other.

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

“Free your mind.”

This advice came repeatedly from one of my teachers in Ghana. Whenever I reached a block when trying to learn a new rhythm, my teacher would ask me to pause a moment and “free my mind”. I always played better afterwards.

These days, it’s so easy to become stifled by our own inner critic, or by worrying about what others think, or by overthinking the task at hand, or by being consumed with other thoughts whilst trying to execute that task.

Freeing your mind is about being completely in the moment. What I love about drumming, is that it only properly works when you are completely present and engaged in playing the rhythm. It’s also an activity that requires you to be in your body and physically awake as well as mentally alert. Drumming is just a beautiful way to bring yourself back to the moment and experience complete engagement.

Where else do you jam?

In The Groove performs and hosts community jams at a range of local festivals, community events and private functions/parties. Keep an ear out for us!

How do people get involved?

It’s easy to join our In The Groove community.

Keep an eye out for our free community jams around North East Victoria and spontaneously join in the rhythm fun!

If you would like to learn about West African rhythms and how to play the djembe in a fun, social environment, come along to one of our classes. Our community classes occur on a weekly basis in Albury/Wodonga, Beechworth, Wangaratta and Yarrawonga. We also run on-demand workshops – we love bringing the rhythm to new towns and communities.

All class details can be found on the website http://www.inthegroove.education/community and you can keep updated about our community jams on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/inthegroove.education

Busker What’s Your Story? Matt Cross

“I’ll be bringing in the new year once again by making music. Not with a band. Not at a wedding or pub. But on the main street of Albury, raising money for those in need. Every cent I make tonight will go directly to the RFS NSW. It may not be heaps in the scheme of things, but I believe that if everyone makes small efforts like this we can turn this mess around.”

Matt Cross

Matt Cross

When Busker What’s Your Story? went in search of a busker on New Years Eve in Albury, we got more than we bargained for.

Matt Cross, who grew up in Lavington and was home from Newcastle on New Years Eve, was not out celebrating with the lads, choosing instead to give up his time to support the NSW Rural Fire Service. This at a time when fire has ravaged regions surrounding Albury and taken the life of a local volunteer fire fighter.

It was heartening to see young revellers tossing notes and coins in his case where they could. Those who didn’t have any change shook his hand, appreciative of his support. Matt made an impressive $926.90 for the Rural Fire Service.

He doesn’t do a lot of busking these days, this was for a special event. Usually Matt is gigging with his band Glovers Lane of which he is a founding member and the keyboard player.

Matt was just doing his thing, a young muso wanting to give something back. At Busker What’s Your Story? it reaffirmed why we write this blog. Life is full of stories, tragic, funny, interesting and heartwarming. Music is often the glue that brings people together. Find out more about Matt Cross and his band Glovers Lane below.

You grew up in Lavington – What drew you to music as a child?

“Music has always had a hold of me. It’s a magic that’s hard to explain. So choosing to study music was an easy decision. Some memories growing up that stand out would be making music with my siblings. Both my sisters and brother learnt as well, and it was always a lot of fun trying to fit us all on the piano. These days making music with others is still just as fun. That’s a big part of the magic I think.”

What’s a standout memory from your busking days?

“I remember busking on a Christmas Eve a few years back. A lovely family from Melbourne passed through to have a listen. Not only did they donate money, but their two daughters both had a sing on the mic – and were really good! We played songs from The Beatles and Elton John. By the end of it, they had a great crowd gathered, and brought in a small fortune! Was a fantastic night.”

What’s a lyric that is special to you – and why?

“Tim Minchin’s tune “White Wine in the Sun” is up there in my top 5 songs – especially this time of year. The lyrics in the chorus talk about the importance of family over the holiday period. It gets to me every time!”

Do you write your own material?

“I have two original projects that I write for. “Glovers Lane,” a five piece band from Newcastle. And “My Friend Rupert,” an acoustic duo consisting of female and male vocals.”

You can listen to them both here:

Glovers Lane Original – I’ll Be Coming Home Soon

What’s a great advice you’ve been given in your lifetime?

“It’s a cliche one, but so many people have told me to do what you love. I’m fortunate enough to say that I am doing that, and I’ve never been happier.”

Do you think busking can survive in an increasingly cashless society?

“A cashless society makes it difficult, but the busking scene still seems to get by. I’ve seen progressive buskers with eftpos machines haha! It gives the punters no excuse.”

What’s something really interesting about you?

“I can juggle…
I also make a good lasagne (recipe passed down from mum of course)”

Where else can people see you gig/perform?

“For Albury locals, I’ll be back home on the 26th of January performing at the SS&A with local band “Mia Grace and the Aviators”.
“For Newcastle residents, my next show will be with Glovers Lane on the 11th of January, supporting Ash Grunwald at the Cambridge Hotel. Alternatively, follow my Instagram for all shows @mattcrossmakesmusic”

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/matt.cross.393
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/gloverslaneband/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mattcrossmakesmusic/

Busker What’s Your Story? Sherri Parry

Sherri Parry

“I’ve always had a very squishy soft spot for ‘What A Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong. That song plucks at my heart strings whenever I hear it or play it. It makes me think of my Grandfather in particular, and my family. It never fails to remind me that the world is wonderful – you just have to choose to see it!

(Sherri Parry)
Image Credit: Craig Zillmann

Bendigo local Sherri Parry is well known for the changing hues of her brightly coloured hair, but it is her music that sets her apart.

At 21, Parry is already making a name for herself as an exciting talent in Victoria’s folk scene. She has collaborated with many musicians on her journey so far, since beginning her career at the age of 12, singing at open mic nights and small gigs in Central Victoria.

“I think I was 13 or so when my parents let me go to The Bridge where I performed with a duo there,” Parry told reporter Chris Pedlar at The Bendigo Advertiser. “That helped me become accustomed to performing for crowds and it wasn’t that intimidating. It was a great stepping stone and a brilliant way to develop how I play.”

Parry’s ongoing participation in the annual Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival has put her songwriting abilities in front of many industry professionals and afforded her mentors such as Grim Fawkner and Tom Lee Richards.

“In writing songs I have never really tried to emulate anyone, because I was always writing for myself.
But there are a lot of bands who I have listened to like Radiohead, Tori Kelly, Led Zepplin and Beyonce. The list is endless and I have learnt to gain influence from every kind of genre,” she says.

We invited Sherri along to Busker What’s Your Story? to find out a little more about Bendigo’s golden girl.

What drew you to music as a youngster and eventually to busking?

“I first learnt to play violin in grade 2, only in an attempt to emulate my big sister who was also studying the instrument. But I quickly became bored with the classical and strict lessons, and chose to pick up a guitar instead. Everything spiralled from there. Since I turned 16, I’ve learnt how to play, sing and perform for myself. Creating and performing were the things that kept me grounded and happy, and they still do. The freedom that came with the desire to learn and improve on my own, coupled with unwavering support from my family, is what pushed me into really wanting to make a career out of music.”

If you could choose a favourite lyric, what would it be, and why is it special?

“There are far too many songs, and far too many lyrics brilliantly scattered across this world to choose one line or one song. But I have always had a very squishy soft spot for What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. That song plucks at my heart strings, whenever I hear it or play it. It makes me think of my grandfather in particular, and my family, and it never fails to remind me that the world is wonderful – you just have to choose to see it.”

Tell us about your new song?

“It’s called Greed and it’s the first song released from my new album coming 2020. It’s actually also the oldest song that will be gracing the album, having been written by 15yo me in 2013. Greed is about simply that – Greed. It was written during a time in my adolescence where I realised that particular people who persistently spoke to me and sought my attention, only did so for their own gain and benefit, often being a romantic one. I quickly learnt that I wasn’t fond of that at all, and Greed was the result.

Over the 6 years of performing it, it’s definitley become a staple in my set list and a song my audience could probably recite the lyrics to. It’s one I let loose on each show, I throw all my angers and frustrations at the world into it, and like to think others do too.

But they’ll have never heard it like this – with a full band backing, incredible production, and a hell of a lot of work, it’s their first tiny sliver of the delectable cake that is this new album.

Greed is the roots of this album, the oldest and probably most loved song I have, and that’s why it’s the first single to be released. It’s a familiar welcoming into what you already know, and what awaits you.”

The song has just been released today and is available here:

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2EZHLFK
ITunes: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1492267411?ls=1&app=itunes
Apple Music: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id/1492267411

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

Family. It’s the most important thing. They’ll always be there. Don’t forget that.
“My cousin told me this a few months before he passed, and it’s cemented in the walls of my brain ever since. He was right.”

What’s a memorable moment you’ve had busking?

“Years ago I was a part of a duo called Him and Her, in which I performed a side spot for the Bendigo Easter festival in the middle of a street. We had our cases set in front of us, a portable battery to run our amp, an incredible amount of people coming and going. Plus we were both relatively new to the busking/performing.

So when we had about 50 people stop to actively listen to us, we were amazed. But that’s not my favourite memory. As we packed up our gear that day, I had a woman with her baby in a pram come up to me who said that we’d put her crying 2 month old girl to sleep with our music. I remember feeling so touched, delighted, and excited.”

Where else can people see you perform?

“I play around Bendigo, my home town, regularly. Frequenting the Old Church on the Hill, The Golden Vine, and the Moonlight Market.

My home away from home is The Thornbury Local in Melbourne that I get to serenade every couple of months too. So if you look for some colourful boots and bright hair next time you’re around these spots, ya might just find me!”




Busker What’s Your Story? Chaz Gunter

Chaz Gunter

“Don’t ever give up… even when people tell you no, stay focussed and it will happen.”

Sammy Davis Jr. gave me that advice when I was just a young kid. (Chaz Gunter)

Chaz Gunter is an American musician who grew up in Cupertino California. His dad was a musician who played on the Bill Cosby Show and Sammy Davis Jr. show. Starting at the early age of 3, Chaz developed diverse talents in the entertainment fields of acting, drama, dance, comedy, modeling, and music.

Chaz is now a well-known, seasoned freelance musician and entertainer in the San Francisco Bay Area and abroad. He has traveled throughout the world with various cruiselines, 5-star hotels, dance, classical, jazz, rock and nostalgia show band tours and well known artists.

He’s also had plenty of experience busking at markets and outdoor events, entertaining the crowds with his multi-instrumental and vocal talents.

We invited him to Busker What’s Your Story to find out a little more.

What drew you to music as a child?

“I was born in motor city  Detroit Michigan. My dad was an engineer for Lockheed and a professional musician, he got transferred to California when I was seven. So I grew up in Cupertino California. Dad played with  the Bill  Cosby &  Sammy Davis Junior shows.  So I grew up around the musical and entertainment world singing, dancing, acting  and modeling.”

What are some memorable moments you have encountered busking or performing?

“I wanted to busk in Morocco one day, I was there  at a resort playing a three month contract and I really wanted to busk. It was a  Farmer’s Market, it was about 90°outside and there was meat  hanging from the racks and there were flies everywhere. That gig was brutal!

The best gigs ever were in  Dubai & Asia where I played at upscale resorts & hotels.”

We’re well on our way to a cashless society, do you think busking can survive?

“Yes. Technology is your friend. Today’s age is so great with all the apps…”

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

“And I need you, more than want you.” – It’s from Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman. To me, it means I love street performing, but it’s hard and taxing sometimes.

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

“Sammy Davis Junior gave it to me when I was a young  kid: Don’t ever give up. Even when people tell you no, stay focused and it will happen.”

Have you ever busked in Australia?

“No, but I really want to. Sometimes I wish I could just sell everything and go busking around the world!”

Chaz Gunter with former Mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown. Image Credit: Gene X Hwang