I haven’t been busking since July 2015 so yesterday i decided to give it a go again.
All the classic busker’s issues were there, including loud Andean flute players in the main spot, the friendly morning drinker who wants to chat in the middle of a song, the polar wind blowing in your microphone and that biblical wee you should have taken long before setting up.
Despite my batteries running low as i forgot them in the charger (yes, for 10 months!) it was great to come back on the streets.
One of the reasons why i like playing on the streets is because it seems to inspire people. While busking might not be everyone’s cup of tea, doing what we love is important.
We all recognize happiness and passion when we see it and as we’re all mirrors of each other, my duty is to remind passers-by that Life is too short to be doing something that we don’t like.
Yes, judging by the note someone dropped in my guitar case, Norwich people love me as much as i love them and their beautiful city!
While busking in the city, a very talented artist asked me if he could include me in his watercolour painting of the beautiful Norwich Market. Of course i said “Yes!”. His name is Hugh Gatenby and he’s been so kind to send this photo over.
When you see me drinking cider on the job it means only one thing: sunshine and warm temperatures!
I had a great time playing at Claire and Paul’s wedding and i’m looking forward to all the next ones!
I do like playing weddings! Even though i don’t consider myself a wedding singer, i always enjoy bringing my music to people’s life most important moment.
Just got my electric guitar serviced from the amazing crew at Cookes Band Instruments, Norwich and trying it out with this little baby, a new amp i recently bought as it makes my guitar sound like the old records i love. Rocksteady, Cumbia, Afrobeat, Soul…in the cool British Summer weather, the only spring i see is the reverb one!
I just finished recording all the parts of the first 3 demo tracks for the next album. In order to get all the sounds i wanted i needed to come back to the UK and add some summery electric guitars and a bit of bottom end with my baby bass! Another good use of king size rolling papers is to place them between guitar strings in order to get that African sound!
In June i’ve been offered a busking gig in Ascot Racecourse. It’s the first time i hear about this place and i’m quite excited about it, as it seems i’ll be entertaining an extravagant audience, plus my name comes from the Greek “Fil – Hippos” (Horse lover).
Busking at Royal Ascot has its perks, including getting a 50 pounds note drop, walking around without a tie flashing the staff wristband to the security and last but not least seeing the Queen and Charles less than 100 yards away! It’s not for the faint-hearted busker though, and serious drunken -humans-management skills are required! Ah, if the lady who fell over my guitar case multiple times can’t find her silver earring, get in touch, it’s still in there and will be happy to post it back home!
It was great to finally meet Sophie, Gary and the crew!
We talked about my early days as busker in Norwich, my latest release forHoboken HiFi plus some exciting news including my busking session at Royal Ascot Racecourse and the upcoming London show withPama International opening for Melbourne Ska Orchestra!
In July i also played a festival in Stuttgart, Germany, sharing the stage with Dreiblatt, a local hip hop duo. After this collaboration a good friendship started and we also started working on a song together.
In the meantime the news reported that England voted in order to leave Europe. Just few days after this drastic decision, i played at Lord Mayor Celebration, one of the the biggest events in Norwich.
I set up in front of a row of amazing street food stalls, where you could find English, Indian, Italian, Thai food and much more. I entertained people from all over the world: i received smiles and tips from English, Italians, Brazilians and so on. This is the England i live in, this is the Norwich i live in. We have a great community here: all the rest is media fear propaganda.
The average person in real life is pretty cool!
Towards the end of the Summer, all my energies went for the final editing of “Postcards From India”, our upcoming documentary about Miserable Man musical adventures in the Subcontinent.
The director and the editor had been dealing with over 120 hours footage.
To reduce this huge amount of material to a 70 minutes movie will be an interesting task. Cleaver editing can really transform a video journey into an deep emotional experience. I feel like this movie will be amazing and despite the tight schedule i was very excited and looking forward for the technical screening at the Theatre of Vicenza, my Italian hometown!
Apart from the editing, i had to personally work at the soundtrack and this gave me the opportunity to experiment with new sounds!
It turns out that Jose McGill, from The Vagaband, is not only one of my favourite singer songwriters and music producers ever, but also my neighbour! So we started to record some drones for the documentary soundtrack, mixing Indian ragas with some slide guitars! East meets West! Namaste! And, last but not least, i spent a day in the studio to record the voice overs: quite an intimidating task as a first timer!
Once i was done with my busy 3 and a half months of English ife, i definitely needed a break, so like i did 2 years ago, i took a flight to Italy and spent 10 days chilling on the beaches of Salento, the southern tip of the heel of the “Boot” and spent the evenings playing music on the streets with my buddy and percussionist Giatamuta Giata’.
People’s reactions and generosity were great as usual. We sold tons of cd’s, made new connections and got our street show much tighter. Busking together is our way to get ready for the dozen of Italian shows we booked during the Summer. The only bad thing was that i left England very tired and at the end of my “working sea holiday” i was completely exhausted, at the point that we had to drive back to Vicenza with me in the back of the van shaking with feaver and sore throat. 1200 kilometers of hell!
My priority was to heal in time for the technical screening and get back on track for the shows.
After a few days spent in my mother’s house i started feeling better. I rarely get ill and didn’t take any medicines for over 12 years, therefore the pills i took worked very well and very fast!
At the end i made it just in time and I have to say that the technical premiere of Postcards From India – The Movie has been a success beyond any of my expectations.
A nearly full house with over 200 guests and lots of people giving us great feedback, plus some serious donations to Marta and her project “A mano a mano”.
People´s reactions showed us that the story reached their hearts. That’s all i wanted from this amazing experience. With my heart full of gratitude and my health completely recovered, i was ready to play the next Italian shows!
Giatamuta Giata’ was ready with a cart full of percussions!
Some good friends from Bologna, are in a band called “The Hangovers”. They were fresh from the XFactor and as i haven’t seen them for the last 3 years, i managed pay a quick visit and spend 24 intense hours in the Red City. We were good enough to squeeze in several sumptuous meals, countless bottles of red wine, a private and intimate screening of Postcards From India – The Movieand even got a last minute permit from the Police that allowed Miserable Man & the Hangovers to busk together for the first time!
It’s no wonder that i wasn’t able to update this blog between May and September, so now that i’m chilling in Ubud, Bali, and enjoying some well deserved time off, i finnaly found the time to condense all these beautiful Summer memories in one single post! My “winter summer” started here in Indonesia.
Tomorrow i’m off to a small island and will be travelling through Malaysia playing few shows, before i reach Laos where i will get the Indian visa. Thanks for reading! Will post a new entry in a few days!