Striking the right chord for festival buskers

IT’S a bigger certainty than Black Caviar crossing the line first.

Amid the hand-wringing that follows each country music festival, the issue of how to manage the “beautiful chaos” of Peel St busking invariably crops up.

A move by organisers to relax the rules this year has been widely applauded, but not everyone agrees they got it right.

Rex Baldwin, who has busked in Peel St for 39 festivals, said non-country performers were diluting the spirit of the festival.

“It’s a country music festival and there should only be country music artists in the boulevard,” Mr Baldwin said.

“We’ve got Peruvian pan-pipers, we’ve got human statues, we’ve got guys on their didgeridoos playing into microphones.

“We have to go back to the way it was in 1973 and have it as pure country music. If they want other stuff, put it on the other end of the street.”

He also rejected calls for amplifiers to be banned for buskers, with many claiming the cacophony of sound was distracting.

“No amplifiers would be a disaster,” he said.

“I’m one of those people with a soft voice and I need the amp to project it. I can sing seven hours without a break but if I was to do it acoustically, I might only last half an hour.”

Cheapa Music Tamworth proprietor Peter Harkins applauded the changes to busking this year, saying organisers had struck the right balance.

“The atmosphere was much better this year,” Mr Harkins said. “This gets debated every year and some people whinge about it being too loud.

“I know it’s a cacophony, but it works.”

Rural Press Events general manager Barry Harley said to try to regulate the chaos of busking would be like “herding cats”.

“It’s an ongoing question and a very difficult one to answer,” Mr Harley said.

“Busking is about freedom of expression, an opportunity for someone to find their patch of dirt and perform. It would be nice if it was all country music but if you start putting hard and fast rules, you lose the essence of busking.”

He said some of the “oddity acts” were the ones that drew the biggest crowd.

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