Among the sounds of cars and pedestrians milling about on busy weekend afternoons and evenings, is also the constant flow of music from street musicians throughout the entire length of the Delmar Loop. Not only is busking an old and beloved practice, it is also defining of the artistic culture of a community like the Loop. Here is a look into five individuals who have been shaped by their experience as a busker and feel a strong connection between their instruments and the people who truly enjoy their music.
From playing in the beautiful backyards of the National Parks to the crowded and busy streets of New York City, Matt, also known as “Lucky,” has shared his music with thousands of people in America. Being only 22 and a self-taught musician, Matt has dedicated his life to sharing his passion with others across the nation. Although he has travelled all throughout the country, Matt is summoned to share his music in the Delmar Loop because of its safety and energetic atmosphere.
While playing in the Delmar Loop, Matt produces different twists on pop songs.
“You can only play a certain amount of beats,” Matt said. “These days, every single song is the same beat and guitar and vocals allow me to switch it up.”
Ultimately, Matt recognizes the value of sharing music with individuals and the joy it spreads.
“I want to show other people that somebody out there is happy,” Matt said. “You could be having the most rough day while walking down in the Loop and then all of a sudden you hear a song that you love. I assume that I am not terrible and that I will not ruin someone’s day. I hope to brighten others’ days and see what I can learn from others.”
Al has been playing the trumpet since 1952. He started by learning the chromatic scale and from then on took every opportunity to play in band class throughout his academic career.
Playing the trumpet in the Loop has become an integral part of Al’s life, as he has spent 15 years playing on the exact same street. Street performing has introduced Al to a variety of intriguing people.
“If I was sitting at home or in a band or on the road, I wouldn’t be doing that,” Al said. “I talked to people everyday. Different people everyday.”
An experienced busker like Al has undoubtedly learned the value of independence and self-sufficiency, and has been positively impacted by his time as a street performer.
“There is never a true thing,” Al said. “But, with yourself, that’s the truth. I am not interested in impressing people. That has changed my character being out here. I think I am a better person for it.”
Lee shares his unique talent of playing the flute amid the crowds in the Delmar Loop. Similar to the Hollywood Strip, Lee explains how the Loop has an energetic and cultural atmosphere, filled with individuals who want to listen to different entertainers.
“I love how people listen to me play,” Lee said. “It makes them happy, which makes me happy.”
With the excitement of the Loop, Lee cherishes how his music is able to inspire individuals, of all ages.
“I like people to listen to my music,” Lee said. “I love when little kids hear my music. The reaction I get from people, that makes it all worthwhile.”
In contrast to Al, Ray’s mission is to share his talent in a way that others will enjoy, because that is music’s true purpose.
“Musicians are supposed to play in front of people – that’s what we do,” Ray said. “What’s the use of being a musician if you sit at home and play by yourself? We play for the audience.”
Ray’s love for music is raw and genuine, he worked exhaustively to become the guitarist he is today. Not only did he pay for his first guitar, he then taught himself visually the basics of guitar when his parents were unable to afford lessons.
“I would watch anything and do anything I could to learn my craft,” Ray said. “I struggled with it, but worked hard – now look where I am.”
Studying as a PhD student at the Washington University in St. Louis, Delson also shares his passion for music in the bustling Delmar Loop. Delson is a native to the St. Louis area and a musician for over 20 years. He comes out to the Loop every weekend, rather than playing in his living room. Delson believes that it is important to communicate with one another through music.
“Music is a type of communication,” Delson said. “It is beautiful to play music on your own. It is very therapeutic. I feel a desire to communicate with people through music. I hope that it is not just the selfish desire of, ‘Oh look at me! Look what I can do!’ That is always a temptation for musicians or maybe anybody.”
By communicating with music, Delson believes that musicians gain the ability to inspire individuals.
“Music has the power to reach people,” Delson said. “It has the power to move people emotionally, inspire people and to give them hope. That is what I hope to do with it.”
In addition to emphasizing the power of music, Delson illustrates how music allows different individuals to come together and work alongside each other. Delson generates strong musical relationships with his three children.
“Playing solo music is great, but it is also very nice to play with other people and work systematically and consistently on music,” Delson said. “But, it is hard for people to commit to that. It is hard to get a band together – it’s hard to do. I am hoping with my family to cultivate a music relationship between us when we get together, rather than sitting in front of the TV. Now we all pick up instruments.”
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