I’ve been meaning to post this for a bit now. But we all know how things seem to come up, it’d been a crazy week and then came the holiday weekend. I had to put down the computer and step away from the internet for the last four days; it was nice.
Last week Joy and I went to the first annual Boise Curb Cup. I’m not sure there’s a good way to describe it, but imagine 130 different, some really different and all very random street performers gathering for a two hour competition. We didn’t hear about the event until the day before, one of my wife’s friends was going to be among the performers. But we were able to rearrange our schedule to see it.
Looking at a list of 130 entries and knowing that we had two hours that meant less than a minute per individual or group. That’s not counting getting stuck in a crowd, crossing streets etc. Yeah. not gonna happen. So somewhat randomly and based on name alone I circled 10 groups that I wanted to see, Joy added two that weren’t already on my list, together we marked a few more as 2nds.
I lived in New Orleans for three years, New Orleans is quite probably the Busking capital of the United States. For those of you not familiar with the term “Busking” (and didn’t click the link) Wikipedia: “Busking is the practice of performing in public places for tips and gratuities. People engaging in this practice are called buskers or street performers.”
There are street performers EVERYWHERE in New Orleans, but especially in the French Quarter, on the River Walk and a few other hot spots. They’re good too. Well, a lot of them are. Going to the Cafe Du Monde in the middle of the night while a guy is playing a saxophone. New Orleans is one of those places where, well, you just have to spend time there. Anyway, in New Orleans there is every type of street performer imaginable and some you wouldn’t. You’ll see some amazing acrobatics and break dancing, there’s a young tap dancer on every street, you’ll see people playing things you wouldn’t have thought could be musical instruments (i.e. saws and other construction tools), one of my favorites was the guy who always played the wine glasses in Jackson Square. More robots, statues, clowns and mimes than you can count. But get a block or two away from the tour bus stops and you could find some real music. You’d have full bands setup in the middle of a street just off the Quarter. But my favorites were usually the solo acts, occasionally the duos, but regardless simple. Trumpet, Sax, Trombone, Clarinet were popular for solo performers in New Orleans. I tell everyone I miss the food from New Orleans. And I do. No really, I REALLY miss the food. But I like Jazz and even New Orleans Jazz or Blues, so I miss the music too. I can find plenty of my Tennessee Bluegrass here in Idaho. But not so much jazz.
We did make it by every group, stopping only at ones that were on our list or caught our attention. I have photos of 49 of the 129 groups, some we only stopped for a second or two, others we spent a few minutes. Wasn’t much time to listen to the music or watch very many tricks. There was quite a variety of performances, but I didn’t see a single trumpet, trombone, clarinet or sax, that was pretty disappointing. We did have a ton of bluegrass and other assorted acoustic groups. “Angie Stevens and The Mark” Angie is a friend of Joy’s and they had a banjo, I’ll stop to watch anyone pick a banjo, they were great, “Lonesome Band” had a great bluegrass (amplified) sound, “Out of Order” was all acoustic and too close to a loud band, but from what I could hear they sounded pretty good and were having fun.
Two of our favorites where right next to each other. Beltane, I’m not sure how to explain them based on the two songs I heard, but the performer list description says “Celtic Fusion Rock” so we’ll leave it at that. Chad Summervill was probably our all around favorite, he had the best stage presence of anyone we saw and a great sound. Another solo act we liked was that of Darian Renee.
Other interesting performances included; “Boise Breakers”, “Eclektic~Ka”, “Eleven”, “Steam Punk Side Show”, “Pug Daddy”, “Tic-Tactics” and “The City of Trees Pipes and Drums” (the Scottish blood in me has to stop for bag pipes).
We had a really good time, I wish we’d had more time to spend enjoying a few of the performances. And hehe, there were a few we wished we could have walked by faster 😉 I do hope that next year that Curb Cup returns, with a few improvements and please, someone with a woodwind or brass instrument. I can’t wait to put it on the calendar. It was a great mix of people, styles and performances. There were a few that wouldn’t have made it past the first audition of any Idol or Talent show, but most were worth listening to for a song, several I want to hear more of.
A few ideas for next year;
– make the event at least three hours, encourage the groups to take a short break each hour.
– don’t have as many performers around the water fountain, it got really bottled up there, especially on 8th between the arena and the Boise centre.
– have at least four token booths 1) water fountain 2) Basque block at 6th 3) 8th and Bannock 4) 8th and broad (one at each major entrance)
– don’t put an acoustic group next to a full band and or manage the sound level.
– Better Signage for group name/number
A few suggestions to performers for next year
– Don’t ignore your audience.
– Don’t ignore cameras
– Don’t make weird faces or poses for the camera
– Don’t stop playing/performing to pose for a camera
– Interact with and when possible acknowledge your audience. — as I said above Chad Summervill (singer/guitar) had the best stage presence of anyone we saw. He acknowledged his audience, interacted with them, acknowledged other performers around him and thanked each person who put a vote token in his bucket. That goes a long way to making one want to hang around and keep watching. There were one or two performers that sounded ok, but didn’t even make eye contact with their audience or in one case kept looking at the ground. I can get that performance off of an MP3 player. Smile, make eye contact, say hi. Darian Renee was another good example, pointed a camera at her, she smiled and sang right to the camera for a few shots.
– Be nice, don’t have your amp turned up to where we can’t hear an acoustic group four groups down from you.
– Don’t spill something dark on your light colored shirt before the cameras come around. Not all photogs are nice enough to clone out spilled coke in a quick shot 😉
Overall, a great event. I look forward to it next year.
As you may suspect I took a few photos while we were at the Curb Cup, here’s a random selection — click on thumbnails to see larger w/ caption. Someone remind me next year to carry a very wide angle lens. Although I had a normal wide angle with me it stayed in the bag, I shot most of the day on a 200mm or my prime 50mm.
I did my best to tag the images correctly but if you notice an incorrect tag, let me know. If you were a performer and want to see more photos of you or your group, send me an email via the contact page and I’ll see what I have. Also, if you are a performer and will be doing a show/concert in the near future and would like me to photograph you at the event, contact me, I’m always in the mood for good music.