As a writer and photographer I travel between my life in Toronto, my life in Antigua, and anywhere else my wanderings may take me ... writing my books and enjoying local arts and adventures along the way.

Toronto Buskerfest

People from the Caribbean may wonder what a busker is. As busker is someone who performs in public places to entertain people in return for tips. The work “busk” could potentially come from the Italian word buscare meaning to go out and get, or from the Spanish word buscar meaning to look for. In any case the good ones cause you to stop and watch because they have some compelling talent that won’t let you leave without seeing a little more.

This weekend Toronto was full of them. Toronto’s St. Lawrence market, which is downtown close to the theatre district, was home to the Toronto Buskerfest.

Theatre District

This festival goes on every summer in the city and attracts some truly riveting performers. One of these was the duo of acrobats called “Popeyed”. Hundreds crowded around them to watch them bend, balance, and extend themselves in ways that seemed theoretically possible but in practical terms seemed entirely implausible.

Popeyed

Popeyed Bending

Also at the festival were a number of charismatic musical acts. Matt James was one of those. Buskers are associated in my mind with travelling because back in university when I travelled it was a convenient way for those with talent to make a little money while backpacking through large European cities. Matt’s accent and the fact that he played a didgeridoo (an Australian aboriginal instrument) identified him immediately as an Australian. But Matt has a website and CDs for sale online so I’m not sure he gets around to busking much these days.

Matt James

During Matt’s performance he also invited a couple of other performers to jam with him. There was Scott Jackson the human beat box. And there was a saxophonist named Rock and Rollie (i’m not sure about the spelling). This gentleman was seventy-eight years young and a sure crowd pleaser. Matt laid down a jazzy bass groove while the human beat box put an exclamation mark on the beat. Matt  then called out for Rock and Rollie to join in on the sax.  Rock and Rollie blew a couple of riffs and then started to get loose. First he started playing with the sax backwards and in the air.

Rock and Rollie

Then he played with it behind his back. Then finally he began to disassemble it, taking it apart piece by piece … surprising the crowd by playing with less and less of it and all the while keeping to the jazzy beat that Matt and the beat box didn’t let up on. Seventy-eight years young indeed.

Rock and Rollie Breaks the Sax Down

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