Skip to content
5 August 2011 / leggypeggy

Beggar versus buskers—and a midnight serenade

After I had my rant about the beggars of Tbilisi, I realised I hadn’t mentioned my views on buskers. In case you don’t use the term, buskers are the musicians who play on street corners, in shopping malls and really anywhere with lots of pedestrians.

My policy is to tip buskers (sometimes generously), unless they are so bad I can’t bring myself to encourage them. Poor John’s sister, Ann, who is a muso herself, says she always tips buskers. It’s fair—they do something for her, so it makes sense to repay them for their efforts. I haven’t seen a lot of buskers since we left Germany. There have been a few at touristic sights, but otherwise none. Until last night, when the midnight serenade came to us.

We were camping in Azerbaijan, near the border with Georgia. To be honest, it was about 10 p.m. Dinner was over and everything was packed away. Some people were heading to their tents. Suddenly a carload of tipsy Azerbaijani (Azeri) youths turned up. They started unloading musical equipment. It was too dark to tell exactly what they had, but we assumed they planned to amuse themselves.

Instead they planned to entertain us—not with actual instruments, but with a boom box on full volume. The first tune thumped out and received polite applause. We were in our tent, which just happened to be the tent closest to the noise. Head-bangy music is all they had and it’s the only genre I can’t listen to. It makes my head hurt.

I’ll spare you a bang-by-bang account, but say that the bad-behaviour boys played another four or five ‘tunes’ despite requests to stop. In the end, they got rather stroppy. They wanted ‘money, money, money’ for delivering a concert. They followed people to their tents and prowled around tents that were already occupied. One crawled into the tent alcove beside me and demanded ‘money, money, money). I shouted ‘no’ and ‘go away’, which he did.

But the group hung around for about 90 minutes, repeating calls for money (most likely the only English they know) and being a general nuisance. Finally, they got tired or thirsty and piled in the car and drove away.

They never returned, but we were going to be serenaded one way or another. Every dog in Azerbaijan barked for the rest of the night to let us know they were protecting us.

P.S.I have a nice pic of a busker in Mtskheta, Georgia, but it won’t load today. 😦 Will post when I have a decent connection, which may be a while.


Leave a Comment
  1. Sy S. / Aug 6 2011 12:36 pm


    Buskers- Is a British word. A Quote “Street performance or busking is the practice of performing in public places, for gratuities, which are generally in the form of money and edibles. People engaging in this practice are called street performers, buskers, street musicians, minstrels, or troubadours.”

    I can see how annoying it can be at 10:00PM and some young tipsy Buskers show up and refuse to leave until the get some money…

    Here in NYC we don’t see to many beggars, but often Street Musicians/Buskers and often in the subway stations. Often South Americans playing Woodwind Pipes, Mexican guitar players and Afro-American Break Dancers. Amazingly the other day 5 break dancers decided to preform in a moving subway car, with the isles clear for their performance. They were doing multiple somersaults,
    two people rolling over each other down the isle.. and various break dance moves.

    Metro NYC


  2. Jim Clark / Aug 7 2011 9:52 am

    This is the first time I have heard the term “buskers”. However, I really enjoyed the “buskers” in Germany. In Wiesloch you found one or two during the summer evenings who were excellent at their craft. We normally sat and enjoyed for 30 minutes or so and alway provided at “tip.”

    I hope the busker tradition lives forever. However, the gypsy begger problem in Europe needs to be addressed.


  3. leggypeggy / Aug 7 2011 12:14 pm

    Jim, you’d enjoy seeing the buskers in Australia, and some are very, very good. Every now and then you hear someone playing the didgeridoo, which is one of my favourite sounds.

    As for beggars, they don’t have them in Azerbaijan. In three days, I have approached by one child—no doubt an opportunist.



  1. Tbilisi—Let’s go shopping « Where to next?
  2. More on buskers and beggars | Where to next?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: