Dan Cioper and Shawn Bayley perform “Wheel By Wheel”

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Dan Cioper and Shawn Bayley perform in front of the Iron Sculpture in downtown Asheville, NC.

Austin-based folk musician Dan Cioper may not actually be on a formal tour, but he has been playing around the region with his New Orlean’s-based guitarist pal Shawn Bayley for the last few weeks. Here, the duo perform Cioper’s original song “Wheel By Wheel” in front of the Iron Sculpture in downtown Asheville, as darkening skies threatened rain. The duo had been packing up to move on when I encountered them, but it didn’t take much convincing to get them to play one last song, even as the clouds above began to drizzle. Continue reading

Abby the Spoon Lady and Banjo Ben perform “Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss”

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Banjo Ben and Abby the Spoon Lady, enjoying the busking life in Asheville, NC.

Here’s an experiment: Take two standard metal soup spoons. Turn them so that the curved bottoms are facing each other, and place them between your fingers like chopsticks. Now, try to clack them in time with any moderately paced song. It should take you about 45 seconds to begin to appreciate just how good Abby the Spoon Lady is at her profession, and you haven’t even done any of the hard stuff yet. Continue reading

Abby the Spoon Lady and Ben Shirley perform “Li’l Liza Jane”

Banjo Ben and Abby the Spoon Lady

Banjo Ben and Abby the Spoon Lady playing in downtown Asheville.

This video of traveling buskers Abby the Spoon Lady (one of the few professional musical spoon players in the country) and Ben Shirley is arguably the most popular thing ever filmed for Busk Break. It’s not because they’re playing some ironic cover of an ’90s hit or something. (Unless you mean 1890s, perhaps.) It’s because they’re both stunningly talented. Or, if you want believe Abby’s take, it’s like 35 people watching the video 1,000 times each to learn how to play the spoons. Continue reading

Gillian Bourazak performs two songs, deals with mega-creeper

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By the time this photo was taken, the only weird guy still annoying Gillian Bourazak was me.

Gillian Bourazak was one of the first half-dozen buskers I recorded for the Busk Break project, and her two videos are also one of the worst missed opportunities in the entire series. She has a solid voice and a keen songwriting sense, two things I utterly failed to capture in the one opportunity I had to record her busking. The first video makes it seem even worse, as she’s distracted mid-song by one of the biggest dickheads I’ve encountered in several years of these field recordings. Continue reading