Before my departure for KL, i’ve tried to google “busking in KL”, “KL buskers” and so on, and i came across pictures of local street musicians and entertainers, but i would have never thought i would have met them straight away, let alone share a mic and a night busking sessions with them !!! It’s a small wonderful world !
The KL busking scene, is been very active since the late 70’s: police is quite tolerant, people seem to be supportive and the city offers some very good spot for street performers. These guys are almost all full time musicians; many combine busking with private gigging, functions and weddings, and some of them even do session work in the studio.
One of the main busking spots is along Jalang Bintang, a long busy street in the Bukit Bintang area. Amplified busking is the norm here, as the streets are quite loud, so playing with amplifiers is not an issue; apparently there are permits and paperwork involved, at least for this area. Papa Ritch is a very popular cafe’ and restaurant, and they asked a special permit to the council, in order to have buskers performing live in front of its tables pretty much every night. During weekends, musicians can start playing at 10pm and carry on until 5am. Each musician is given the chance to perform and the rotation takes place in a very relaxed and spontaneous way.
These guys are all very talented and humble, and it’s amazing to see how hard they work and how much they cooperate. Unlike their colleagues in western world, they seem to have a very natural way to work together, share spaces and money: more art less ego..? For many of them music is the only way out: the only way to earn some ringgit every day and keep going. It’s an hard life, as the city is tough, the climate tropically challenging, but they accepted me in their big family straight away and made me feel at home once again. The power of the music…