The musical monster at Tamworth’s annual Country Music Festival comes in the form of hundreds of buskers who converge on Peel St– affectionately known during festival time as the Boulevard of Dreams.
While over the years it has been a launching pad for some big names – too many buskers, not enough space, and amplification battles have made the street less than a showcase of musical talent.
Some buskers who are very good can’t get a start and some buskers who are ordinary defend their ground with almost military precision.
While a lack of rules which has meant the buskers have sought out the issues themselves has been in place up to now, it has not been the best outcome for festival fans. It also has been unfair on the hundreds of buskers who battle for their spot and the audience’s attention.
Every year when the Tamworth Regional Council conducts its post-festival wrap-up forum, busking is never absent from the public agenda.
It is a top three agenda item.
So courageously, this year the festival organisers are attempting to solve some of the problems. In the process, which is well intended, they are likely to cause a few more, but doing nothing achieves nothing.
In January the new rules that include designated busking spots in Peel St which will provide ample space between performers and a roster system to ensure those with talent don’t get left behind and have their moment in the sunshine, are a genuine attempt to make more of the Australian Country Music Busking Championships.
Peel St is the festival’s biggest stage.
It is the major precinct, attracting thousands of visitors each day.
The 2013 busking project is also an attempt to expand the festival precinct beyond the White and Bourke streets zone and to make better use of Bicentennial Park and Kable Ave.
Rather than musical mayhem, festival organisers are hoping the street will become its own venue providing quality entertainment.
It is accepted not everyone will like the new rules. There will be plenty of discussion and complaints, but observers who have seen many festivals agree the old way is not the best way.