‘A necessary tool for community survival:’ Buskarama brings joyful melodies to Seattle

Jun 15, 2024, 3:17 PM | Updated: 3:25 pm

Photo: From left, singer-songwriter and social activist Jim Page; Buskarama organizer Davin Michael...

From left, singer-songwriter and social activist Jim Page; Buskarama organizer Davin Michael Stedman; singer Hannah Rames holding the official Buskarama guitar. Buskers will be performing Saturday at Pike Place Market. (Photo: Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest)

(Photo: Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest)

This weekend, and well just about any time at Pike Place Market you will be greeted by the sweet tunes of buskers. Artists who are looking to connect with their community and tell their stories. All day Saturday at Pike Place Market, it’s Buskarama. There will be 15 spots, marked by red music notes, throughout the market where people will be performing.

Davin Steadman, co-founder of Buskarama, said it’s an opportunity for the community.

“My favorite thing about Buskarama was I saw the opportunities with my fellow craft people and fellow musicians and saw how the stories of how great the busking scene was at its peak in the 90s, the energy, and because of certain economic situations, the change from cash to credit, we’re not seeing the same level of participation,” he told KIRO Newsradio.

“I love the idea that we’re starting something new, that its past present, future and we’re honoring the past,” he added.

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Jim Page is an icon in the busking community. He is someone who has spent his life not only telling his stories through song but fighting to give opportunities for those to do the same. He said events like Buskarama help spread the word.

“It’s the visibility and opens doors to possibilities to everybody, everybody from the 10-year-old drummer to someone my age who’s been doing it for a long time,” Page told KIRO Newsradio.

Busking is a thousand-year-old craft

He added that busking has been around for thousands of years.

“You come from the community, you perform to the community, for the good of the community and then you go back into the community,” Page said. “It’s a necessary tool for community survival.”

While busking is allowed at the market, there are still some factors those looking to perform need to consider, such as getting a license.

However, Stedman said once through the process, the market is a great place for artists to thrive.

“The Pike Place Market has been a musical opportunity for hundreds of musicians to hone their skills and be heard,” he said

Buskers navigate a cashless world

One thing buskers are figuring out? Navigating an increasingly cash-free world.

“I think people need to understand the buskers that are there next to you at Starbucks are there providing a service and they’re not necessarily associated with some of the struggles were trying to fix in our city,” Stedman said.

However, he also noted that a lot of buskers are “in a situation of desperation.”

“So how do we make it so regular people can go show up and be seen as artists and creators and find a way for people to feel comfortable giving their cards,” he added.

Page said lately they have been using a QR code for cashless payments.

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Busking comes down to ‘connection’

However, singer Hannah Rames worries about the barriers that phones create between the artist and the audience because the connection is key.

“That busking experience is so much connection. It is being in the moment with somebody it is saying what is on the mind in that moment, it’s reacting to what’s happening in that moment,” she told KIRO Newsradio.

If you are looking to try out busking, you can get more information on the license process at Pike Place Market’s website and once you do decide to get out and play?

“Don’t quit. Start learning the ropes,” Page said.

Find your next favorite artist this weekend at Buskarama, Saturday, June 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Pike Place Market and don’t miss the busker showcase at the Rabbit Box at 7:30 p.m.

Contributing: Julia Dallas and Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest

Paul Holden produces the Seattle weekend events calendar for KIRO Newsradio.

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‘A necessary tool for community survival:’ Buskarama brings joyful melodies to Seattle