If there’s any song that provokes a completely surprised, totally unguarded smile, it’s the “I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)” from the 1967 Disney film The Jungle Book. Add a banjo, a kazoo and a young busker just finding his voice, and you have a very light-hearted busking moment on the streets of Asheville. And, more than that, it’s an early glimpse at a performer who was slowly coming into his own.
When I met the busker now known as Caster, he was going by his given name of Spencer. He had only just dropped out of college, where he’d been studying political science. He was friendly, jovial, and happy to talk about his recent shift direction. “That was not the major for me, nor was that the college for me, nor was it the time for me to be in any college. It just wasn’t working out. Hopefully I’ll have better luck with my next adventures.”
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Spencer told me he’d only recently started busking, and while he was planning on making a “semi-permanent lifestyle” out of being a traveling musician, playing on the streets had a less ideological origin for him. “I’m just really broke right now, so I’ve been playing on the streets a lot,” he told me with a laugh.
A year later, I’d encounter Spencer again. Now calling himself Caster, he’d been on the road as a traveling busker most, if not all, of that time. And it showed. But that’s a story for another post.