Busker What’s Your Story? Chloe St. Claire

Image Credit: George Perrett

Chloe St. Claire

“I love the spontaneity of busking. You never know what to expect!

I remember one day a couple started slow dancing nearby to one of my songs. That was
a really nice, special moment for me.”

Chloe St. Claire
Chloe St. Claire performs “Frostbite” LIVE from her ‘Young Like That’ EP at Gundaro Hall.

This fresh young Melbourne songwriter presents a sound that combines hazy guitars, punchy hooks and soft ethereal lo-fi vocals.

Chloe St. Claire says she writes songs for those who went far away, even when they promised to stay near. She says growing up in a small, isolated town in Victoria, her dad a musician and her mum an artist, creativity and lateral thinking formed the epicentre of her childhood.

Chloe (now 18) has been busking since her early teens. In an initiative of the Arts and Culture Department of the Greater City of Geelong called Connecting Song she was chosen as one of 3 local unsigned artists to be mentored by Adalita Srsen from the rock band Magic Dirt.

“I just loved Chloe’s songs as soon as I heard them. She has a strong songwriting sensibility, impressive in someone so young. She has a beautiful, unique voice, and I really felt like her music could benefit from going through that big studio production process,” Adalita said of her mentee, in an interview for Forte magazine in April.

We’ve connected with Chloe to ask about her busking experiences and where you might catch her performing next.

What do you love about performing, and in particular about busking?

“Busking is an incredibly unique way of performing. You can strike a really strong connection between the musician and the listener. I really love that aspect of busking. I think people are more likely to express their thoughts and opinions, and it’s a great way of meeting like-minded people. I also love the spontaneity of busking, you never know what to expect!”

What moments stand out as memorable from busking?

“One moment that comes to mind is when I competed in the regional finals up in Ballarat for the National Busking Championships. The town was so abuzz with excitement because there were so many buskers and creative minds roaming around.

I remember that day. A couple started slow dancing nearby to one of my songs that I was playing, that was really nice, a special moment for me.”

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

“It’d have to be from Gang of Youths‘ song ‘Let me Down Easy.’ I always find this lyric to be really touching and true, and I always hope to live life with the spirit of these words: You wanted to fight for a cause; then go out and fall in love; don’t stop, don’t stop believing; in truth and grace in the grievance.’

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

“My dad always tells me to ‘enjoy the moment.’ I am often guilty of becoming a bit of a worry wart, especially when I have a big gig coming up; or I know I’ll be playing to a large crowd. Dad always reminds me I should really enjoy and appreciate what I do, because sharing and getting lost within music is special. It shouldn’t be taken for granted.”

Where can people catch you performing gigs or busking?

“Currently I’ll be playing along the Victorian surfcoast and doing a bunch of gigs in both Geelong and Ballarat for the summer.”



Busker What’s Your Story? Ella Powell

Image Credit: David Maltby Images

Ella Powell

“At a gig a couple of months ago, a man came up to me and told me he had recently lost his wife of 45 years. He said I had played some of her favourite songs and that he felt closer to her.  To connect with people and make them feel something is really special. I will always remember that day.”

Ella Powell
Ella Powell recorded live at the busking championships, Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth

Terrigal’s Ella Powell has a vocal maturity far beyond her years. At 15, this young lady has already accompanied the brightest stars in the biz, including Adam Harvey at the 2019 Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth.

Ella, then only 14, took out third prize and the people’s choice award at the event’s coveted country music busking championships. View her winning cover of Lady Gaga’s Shallow above.

After hearing her sing, we had to find out a little more about this amazing new Australian talent.

What, or who, inspired you to become a musician?

“It’s quite strange actually because none of my family are musical. From a young age I used to constantly sing around the house, and write my own songs. At five I was fascinated by artists I watched on the TV and really wanted to sing like them. At about six I started to learn guitar, but it wasn’t right for me at that time, and I struggled. I started singing lessons at around eight and then just before my 10th birthday a friend of my dad’s who is a music teacher gave me a couple of guitar lessons. I’ve never put it down since!”

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

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

Imagine by John Lennon was one of the very first songs I learnt. This lyric has an impact every time I sing it. I’ve had such big dreams and aspirations from a young age. My goal is to have an impact on people through my music; I believe that’s why this lyric resonates with me so much.”

Are you still busking? What do you like best about it?

“I’m gigging the majority of the time now, but I still busk at events. I really enjoy busking at the Rocks Markets in Sydney and at the Avoca Beach Markets. I love the vibe of busking; I can’t describe how amazing it is to be surrounded by a crowd of people who are appreciative of what you do.”

“I’m a musician because it’s my passion, but I also play to connect with people and to make them smile. When that happens, I feel like I am giving something back and I hope I’m making a difference.”

What’s a really memorable moment you’ve encountered gigging or busking?

“At a gig a couple of months ago, a man came up to me and told me he had recently lost his wife of 45 years. He said I had played some of her favourite songs and that he felt closer to her. Those words really stuck with me; I realised why I became a musician. To connect with people and make them feel something is really special. I will always remember that day.”

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

“One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given was from my guitar teacher a couple of years ago. He told me to stay true to myself; and always have something to say when I write a song. That advice really stuck with me. It’s definately taught me to be more honest in my songs and to find ways to do that while staying true to myself.”

Where can people see you sing?

“I gig at numerous functions, events, restaurants and at weddings on the Central Coast. You can also book me for private events.

You’ll also catch me playing at festivals around NSW.

I always update my social media pages about where I’ll be playing next. So jump on and say hello!”




Busker What’s Your Story? Johno Johnson

Blues icon Johno Johnson

“I’m a lot older than people think. 73 I am. I’m not young!

When you get old, some people play golf. I play the guitar, that’s the difference.”

Ian ‘Johno’ Johnson

When you talk of buskers, they don’t come more iconic than Cairns’ blues man ‘Johno’ Johnson.

Johno (that’s not my real name) Johnson is a founding member of Johno’s Blues Band. The band played venues all over the world and opened the famous Johno’s Blues Bar in Cairns.

The bar was originally in Sheridan Street before it moved for 8 years above McDonalds on the ‘nard.

The venue hosted the prime of local talent, along with a plethora of national and international acts.
Many American blues bands of the day came to play at Johno’s.

Guitarist Tommy Emmanuel opened Johno’s Blues Bar in 1989 and his brother Phil was the guest of honour in December 2007 at its final swansong. Tony Hillier of EntertainmentCairns.com quotes Phil Emmanuel as saying: “It’s a very sad loss – Johno’s was the frontier of live music in the Far North and a very important component of the interstate and international music scene.”

If you’re lucky enough to visit Cairns, you’ll find Johno busking on the Esplanade. Be sure to toss a coin in his case. We’re glad he’s back entertaining the tourists after an accident earlier this year saw the 73 year old knocked off his pushy by a car door.

Busker What’s Your Story? You can listen to Johno tell more of his story in his own unique style above. The video is courtesy of videographer Adam Simpson and writer William Macdonald who caught up with the cheeky old music man in August.




Busker What’s Your Story? Recovered


“We met on a dating App. We arranged to meet for coffee, but after a few minutes it turned out we had absolutely nothing in common relationship wise, but we discovered we both loved music. So, we ditched the coffee and went to a park for a 2 hour jam session instead.”

Bryce Tinley

Bryce Tinley and Sarah Farrington formed the Albury music duo ‘Recovered’ only around 3 months ago. As well as busking in Albury and about the district they have performed at local venues including the Retro Lane Café, St Ives Hotel and a community youth event called Street Jam.

We caught them busking at the Rotary Community Markets in Kiewa Street, Albury.

What are some memorable moments that you’ve encountered while busking?

Sarah – ” One day we were busking in Dean Street and a lady heard us from the window of her car, she had to drive around the block a couple of times to find a park so she could come and listen to us play. That was nice.”

Bryce – “The crazy people! So many crazies come and talk to you on the streets. This one guy had just got off a murder charge in court and he came up to me and gave me his lucky charm. It was a rusty old celtic cross. Then, after explaining what all the tattoos on his knuckles were about he left; I think he had to go back into court.”

“There was another guy who thought it was awesome when someone dropped $10 in our case. Then he asked me if he could have it and got a bit aggressive when I turned him down.”

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

Sarah – “Come down my life force – it’s a lyric from our original song. To me it means waiting to find your place, and meaning, in life.”

Bryce – “Blue like the colour of your eyes. Blues, let them pass you by – it’s also from Life Force. It seems I always have images of blue eyes occurring in my life. It’s also what I notice when people are photographed at traumatic events and that sort of thing.”

Where did you learn to play the guitar?

Bryce – “I’m self taught. All you need is YouTube these days to teach yourself to play. I was lucky too because I had some great guitar playing mates who taught me stuff when we jammed. I write a lot of instrumental guitar pieces and Sarah and I have just started songwriting together.”

What’s next for ‘Recovered’?

“We’re excited to be playing at By the Banks music festival at Willowbank in Albury on 30 November and then at The Malt Shed in Wangaratta on 7 December.”


Busker What’s Your Story? Riff Ferguson

Riff Ferguson

“I got into music when I was about 13. I was inspired by the 2003 film School of Rock.”

Riff Ferguson

When he’s not performing gigs with his dedicted band or duo known as both Intensity and Intensity Duo, Riff Ferguson can occasionally be found busking at venues around regional Victoria, regional south/central/south coastal NSW and the south coast of Queensland.

We caught up with Riff busking at the Albury Wodonga Farmer’s Market.

Tell us about a lyric from any song that really resonates with you?

“That would have to be: ‘I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain,’ by Prince. The song Purple Rain really resonates with me; its meaning is pretty profound. Prince explains it as: ‘When there’s blood in the sky, red and blue equals purple.’ It’s about the end of the world; and being there with the one you love and letting your faith/God guide you through the purple rain.”

Who are your musical influences and what music styles do Intensity play?

“I have lots. They include Angus Young of AC/DC, Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Alex Lifeson of Rush and John McLaughlin of Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Intensity Duo is made up of myself on guitar and vocals and Michelle Britt on vocals, percussion and acoustic guitar. We’re known for playing a wide range of genres in both acoustic and electric styles ranging from rock, pop, funk, country, blues, alternative and many more. It really depends on which audience we play for and the occasion.”

What’s something memorable that’s occured while you’ve been busking or performing?

“I remember one particular gig in Wodonga. This man was baltering all over the dance floor and he pretty much piffed himself in our PA Equipment! I had loops going on my loop station and then the power went off. That was memorable.”


Busker What’s Your Story? June Caravel

Image Courtesy of June Caravel

June Caravel

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

June Caravel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did you like best about busking around Australia? 

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

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

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

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



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

Banana Trip Band

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

John Lennon

The Banana Trip Band are the epitome of cool.

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

Busker What’s Your Story?

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

Check them out here on Instagram.

Banana Trip Band Instagram

Busker What’s Your Story? – Simon Paparo

Simon Paparo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who are your musical influences?

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

Apart from earning some coin, why do you busk?

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

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


Busker What’s Your Story? – Alejandro Aguanta

Alejandro Aguanta

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

Alejandro Aguanta

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

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

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

Apart from earning some coin, why do you busk?

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

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

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

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

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

Who are your musical inspiratons?

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


Busker What’s Your Story? – James Strachan

James Strachan

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

James Strachan

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

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

What’s a favourite lyric from any song?

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

How did you come to be a musician?

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

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

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

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

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