Brian Robert Pearce
|Brian Pearce busked the streets
and bars of Europe between the years 1994 and 2000. In addition he
busked in New York while participating in the TIGHTROPE musical, a play
written by Ken Post [ with Bonnie Burns].
The journal exists, at present, as approx. 750,000 hand written words formatted in about 55 segments
|Some of my sites:
Music and photos
Music and lyrics
Interview with Brian
COMPLETE ONLINE JOURNAL SEGMENTS:
Tortoise & Hare
New Clear Winter
Monster in NY
Things we must do
The online Labyrinth Busker Journal consists of hundreds of pages ranging from busking to a wide variety of topics and articles.
If you have a clear idea of what you are looking for, then use the search box (above) to find it.
My 'flash' sites are unlikely to be included in results from the search, so it is best to visit them directly.
My flash sites are:
I hope you enjoy the experience of the Labyrinth Busker Journal
Lost Wandering Blues
Dan Fitzgerald and the Lost Wandering Blues Band
summarised in my diary (Labyrinth Busker Journal) as 'Danny and his entourage'.
See also: Lost Wandering Blues Band live on German TV
A day in the life of the Lost Wandering
My first meeting with Danny:
In September, 1995, Jim Druid, Vered Ben Kiki and I (buskerbrian) travelled in Jim's old post office van in stages from Antwerp to Basle. Thanks to Vered we passed the Swiss border, as Jim and I were penniless. Vered could show she had money. That satisfied the border guards. We stayed a few days in Basle and Vered (having enjoyed the adventure operating as a duo with me on terraces) returned to Antwerp. Jim and I had got reasonably ahead financially, so we headed for Zurich. Managing to get down to penniless again, we took on the nervous business of playing the lucrative Zurich trams without getting caught and fined. It was a 'cat and mouse' adventure, but satisfying at the end of the day when good money had been made and the 'gestapo' avoided.
It was outside a bar in the evening that I first met Danny and the Lost Wandering Band. Danny swept away the paranoid sensation of being 'behind enemy lines' and restored the idea that the world is a stage and that a busker has a right to perform upon it.
Jim wasn't so lucky. He was caught and fined, so we headed out of Zurich bound for Geneva. There were two girls with Danny when I met him at Zurich - and I was surprised to see one of them singing acapello in a lakeside park in Geneva. She had a good voice and a powerful memory for lyrics, so after a couple of hours teaching her some of my duo songs we played the terraces feverishly over a 24 hour period - earning very well indeed. She was due to catch a flight back to the States, so the duo had a short life. More on this..
After initial struggle, battling with penniless, I finally clicked onto Geneva and amassed a good level of savings. I spent two weeks in Bern and doubled these savings while also having a fling with a German girl to help the nights along. Mid October brought Winter, so I hightailed it home to Antwerp.
It was not until August, 1996, that I met Danny once more. This time it was at the Eichholtz in Berne.
Labyrinth Busker Journal (diary entries):
Danny and his 'entourage'
12/08/96 - Mon - Bern (Eichholz, Switzerland) - "St Maurice? Hell, man, I thought you said St Moritz!"
Like a zombie I made my way to the restaurant terrace; the raw garlic I'd eaten (on Ken Post's advice) the night before had clearly helped, but my nose and chest remained musty...
"St Maurice!?! Where the damn is that now?"
Of course, I recognised the voice as it sank through. It was Danny, the loveable, black father of Swiss buskers. You only have to see him to like him. You only have to say 'hello' and it seems you've been friends all your life.
Walking out of the Manora yesterday, I heard a voice and there was Ken. I hadn't noticed him sitting there. He'd booked a cabin with one of Danny's 'entourage'... and they had a spare bed, so... accommodation sorted. Read on....
Try to Burn the Cold on a Cool, Bern Night
12/08/96 - Mon - Bern (Switzerland) - I phoned my brother tonight. My blood is the same as his... not compatible. Another option for my sister's life has closed. They would probably have to extract blood marrow from my sister, purify it, destroy the blood marrow in her body, and re-place the neutralised marrow. I'm no doctor, but I estimate this would be traumatic indeed for my sister - and if all this is necessary, then maybe I should be close by to lend some encouragement and re-assurance. Emotional support can make a difference. I have little here.
Twice, I moved to play the Munster - twice, it began raining the moment I set foot in the place. The third time, after Danny gave me a lift into town, it was too cool and the Munster was empty. My voice is probably not good with the cold taking hold.
"Eat bread! Bread and pasta! They warm the stomach," advised Ken. Read on ...
Ken Post charges to the rescue
Down to serious energy drain, aching limbs, with a crushing inability to find the strength to walk, let alone work. The thought that Clio may be in the Manora offers just enough incentive to get me into town.
Without a franc I staggered in, but she wasn't there. Maybe she's got to work today(?). But how can I work? No money to try any remedy. It's luck that Danny is in town... he wandered back to his car and came back with two and a half aspirins... "Take it all!"
So I staggered to the Munster park, lay on the grass, and waited for the fever to begin its sweat out. Ken passed by with some chicken, so I won't completely starve. All I have to drink is Swiss fountain water. But drink I must! My stomach, my diaphragm, my knees, my chest and my head were completely defeated. I saw Mark (from Geneva) earlier; he has had this ailment too.
In procession, musicians float like flies around here today. It will be hard to extract money from hammered terraces, especially in my condition.
But, some of the fever sweated out, I think I feel a shade stronger... but then, I haven't tried standing up yet.
Ken Post appeared on the Munster terrace and swept into his high energy act. Well, there was no way I'll be doing much jumping around.... and it means a further wait before being able to play the terrace myself.
However, Ken came over to me afterwards to say, "That was a benefit concert! Here's 20sfr!"
Danny had hinted he had done this for me. It was a noble gesture, but it also meant I could hardly walk up to play next.
So I staggered to the Manora and had a Greek chicken dish. Now I chew on options, as sweat comes slowly out... hopefully reducing the fever and the energy loss. Read on....
Tonight it rains... who said the Swiss weather
forecast is always right?
Excerpt from Busker Diary "Things we must do"
...why did an American, a Brit busker
and a French film producer in Geneva
talk about Antwerp and Belgians?
Oh yes! The duo arrangements Ruana and I worked out have been utilised by me on occasion. I had been introduced to Josie (an American) in Zurich. By sheer chance, a couple of weeks later, I met her in Geneva, where she had been seeking to busk acapello. We teamed up to busk the terraces and restaurants for an intensive 24 hour period. She had a great voice and it was almost like having Ruana with me. In a way it was a shame she had to go to Paris and on to Zurich to catch a flight home. She was a very fast learner. She picked up melodies and harmonies swiftly and took a liking to many of my songs and wanted to sing them. She liked the words to my song 'What I am' so much she copied out the words.
31/01/96 - Weds - Antwerp (recalling my Sept.95 visit to Geneva) - Funny really! I sort of placed Josie at about 22. She was actually mid-thirties. She must have been, because she had a seventeen year old daughter back in the States. We played a sparse cafe terrace, but so impressed a French film producer that he wanted to buy us drinks..
Because he was the producer of a film called 'The sorrow of the Belgians'.
So, without a Belgian in sight, we talked about his filming in Antwerp (where I live) of a film based on Hugo Claus (a Belgian) and the producer's pleasant surprise at the quality and enthusiasm of his Belgian actors/actresses...while I explained about the songs 'Little bird' and 'Baby', both written by a Belgian girl (Ruana).
Josie referred to the girl sitting with him as "your daughter" and I was privately thinking ' Whoops! What if this girl is his girlfriend?'
So...as Josie and I finally walked on our way...I said, "Are you sure that was his daughter?"
"Oh yeah! He introduced her as his daughter."
Phew! I missed that bit. Back to 'First meeting with Danny'
(Note: Josie is an imaginary name, I think. I could not remember her real name. I have a bad memory for names. I am aware of that. I do remember she was attractive, with dark hair and a nose ring. BB)
Snippets of info on members or former members of the Lost wandering Blues and Jazz Band:
Awarded: Best international Jazz artist at BBC Jazz awards (July 12, 2007)
'Careless Love' (2004) sold more than a million copies worldwide.
CNN article - 2005:
(CNN) -- Eight years ago, Madeleine Peyroux's debut album, "Dreamland," was showered with praise.
Critics swooned over her Billie Holiday-like voice, her choice of material (though pigeonholed as a jazz vocalist, her songs included Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight" and a pair of blues numbers) and her interpretive abilities. The album, despite no hits and little airplay, sold 200,000 copies, an amazing number for an unknown singer.
And then she disappeared..... Read on
The BBC tries to get to the root of the disappearing Madeleine Peyroux in this news report
The Daily Mail had this to say:
From busking on the streets of Paris in her teens to an acclaimed debut album at 22, singer Madeleine Peyroux was all set for the big time – then she disappeared for seven years.
Now she’s back with a worldwide hit album and, reports Robin Eggar, is enjoying success second time round
In an age when music takes second place to marketing, and the most bankable new performers emerge via TV talent shows, Madeleine Peyroux is something of an oddity.
The 32-year-old smoky-voiced singer, who has been compared to the legendary Billie Holliday and Peggy Lee, may have a worldwide hit album on her hands, but she is someone who doesn’t play by normal celebrity rules or bend to commercial considerations.
Last year, a planned appearance on the Michael Parkinson Show was cancelled at the last minute due to what were described as 'artistic differences' (reportedly a disagreement over the song she was scheduled to sing), after which she went missing.
Her record company, fearing for her safety, hired a private detective to find her, an understandable reaction when you realise that she'd vanished once before - for seven years, unable to cope with the success which beckoned after her first album. (This time she was quickly found, staying with her manager in New York.)
It is this kind of behaviour which has earned her a reputation for being 'difficult'. But Madeleine Peyroux, born in America and brought up in Paris at a formative time in her life, is no diva - far from it.
She can blank record executives, but spend ages talking to street buskers. She dresses more like a philosophy student than a million-selling artist, today wearing an overcoat and a trailing Dr Who scarf over blue jeans and black crew neck sweater, with no make-up.
Her only jewellery is a pair of earrings, golden birds dangling inside small golden hoops. Tall and striking, she can be earnest and enigmatic when she talks, but when she smiles she means it, for, unlike many stars, her eyes smile too.
'Music is this very ethereal force of happiness in my life which I can’t really explain,' she says, lighting up another Lucky Strike cigarette....
....On the way to check out a new school - though her mother knew it was a hopeless endeavour – they passed a group of street musicians busking in the Latin Quarter.
'I saw them sing and I knew that was what I wanted to do. So I left home and joined them. I was such a determined, big teenager that my mum couldn’t stop me.'
She was 15 and had been playing the guitar since the age of 12. For the next three years Madeleine travelled Europe with The Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band, occasionally going to New York, singing old blues and jazz songs in English and French. If the passing audience didn’t like her, she didn’t eat.
If you haven’t lived that life, she says, you can’t understand it. 'It’s not like living in a war zone, but it is hard to stay alive on the street and it really took its toll on my psyche,' she admits.
'By the time I was 18 I was done, I didn’t want to live the life any more. An artist needs support, to be able to go home to a warm place, to eat when you are hungry and to feel secure enough to explore humanity not just from the cold harshness of the street.'
Read the full article
An extract from his profile on Myspace:
Ron's first instrument was a drum set, which he received at the age of 5. He performed in small combos in elementary school, Jr. high school, and high school, as a drummer and then as a vocalist. While attending Columbia University in New York City, where he moved in 1981, Ron took up the harmonica. He graduated from Columbia College with a BA in English in 1985. While there, he studied writing with Albert Murray, Kenneth Koch, Arnold Weinstein and others. He studied music with Jose Luis Greco and Joe Donovan. Other professors included Amiri Baraka, James Shenton, and Edward W. Said. He continued studying music theory at the New School for Social Research in 1990. Ron and his wife, Feather have two daughters.
Ron's first professional experience in New York was as a sideman playing harmonica with blues guitarist Brian Kramer in 1988-89, at such venues as Tramps, Sun Mountain, Kenny's Castaways, the Bitter End, etc. In 1989 Ron traveled to Paris and began performing on the streets of France and Switzerland with Dan Fitzgerald and the Lost & Wandering Blues and Jazz Band. Here--as he fell in with such musicians as Madeleine Peyroux, Joe Flood, Charlie Hunter, Calder Spanier, Christian Fernandez, Belinda Blair, Billy Collins and others--he began to sing in the jazz tradition, and to study the canon of the Great American Songbook.
He returned to New York in 1990 to form two of his own groups, one concentrating on funky R&B originals (the Smoking Section), and the other on '30s and '40s jump swing and standards (Full Swing). These groups performed constantly in NYC and around the world during the 90s, and up to the present time in such venues as Tramps (where Full Swing performed a regular Friday slot from 1990-1994 opening for such greats as Charles Brown, Jay McShann, Wilson Pickett, many others), Windows on the World, the Supper Club, Irving Plaza, the Beacon Theater, Roseland Ballroom, Midsummer Night's Swing (Lincoln Center), The New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts, the Bermuda Jazz Festival, the Stockholm Jazz Festival, Club Kristiania (Oslo), St Gervais Jazz (Switzerland), the Red Bank (NJ) Jazz and Blues Festival, Celebrate Brooklyn (at the Prospect Park Bandshell), Musikfest (Bethlehem, PA), The Supper Club, The Roxy (Boston), The Five Spot (Philadelphia), Louisiana Community Bar & Grill, and many others.
Herschler is one of the most versatile musicians on or off the scene. Having played and performed in a wide variety of styles, including Classical, Rennaissance, Baroque, folk, funk, Blues and Jazz, Samba, Salsa, Soucous, West African, and Flamenco to name a few.
As a troubador in Europe he managed to hook up with interesting musicians such as wash tub bassist
Danny Fitzgerald, Japanese harmonicist Chicara Suzuki, singer Tina Provencano. Together they
traveled throughout Europe as The "Lost wandering blues and Jazz band" performing the music of Fats Waller, Billy holiday, Bessie Smith, and Ray Charles.
Specializing in the music of the 1920's they found themselves playing weddings in San Tropez and
Zermatt, the lavish parties of Eddie Barkeley, from Street corners to five star hotels, including Television appearences in Europe and America. Singers of note who have performed with the "Lost Wandering" include Madeline Peyroux and Joan Osborne.
His own biography on his website reads:
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Garrison Elliott’s history as an artist and musician is a smorgasbord of creative twists and turns. An accomplished singer/multi-instrumentalist/recording
engineer/arranger/producer, at various points in his life he has also been a puppeteer; an actor; a teacher; a model; a singer of Eastern Onion telegrams; a law student; a busker and more. His newly-released “I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed”, and “Letters Never Sent” are brief glimpses into an extraordinarily interesting and complex life.
The youngest of 3 children, Elliott’s childhood years were not exactly middle-of-the-road, heartland American. His father, Archie, was a dedicated amateur puppeteer and 2-time president of Puppeteers of America. As early as he can remember, Garrison was a full fledged member of the family’s puppet troupe, and by the age of 7 he had begun recording sound effects, music and dialog for their performances.
But all was not puppets and strings during the young Elliott’s formative years. His mother, a pianist, nurtured her son’s interest in music, starting him on piano lessons when he was ten. She later enrolled him in the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied clarinet and later, saxophone and flute. By high school, Garrison’s interest in performing had shifted away from puppetry, fully to music, and since it was clear that woodwinds had no place in rock and roll, he added yet another instrument, the bass guitar, playing in a succession of local and regional bands.
High school completed, Garrison headed for California to become a famous musician. Though the experience left him with plenty of stories to tell, fame wasn’t in the picture so he returned to his puppeteer roots, signing on with Scollin’s Marionettes of Cleveland. Behind the wheel of his own fire-engine red Scollin’s Marionettes circus truck he hit the road with his one-man marionette show, dropping the stage on the side of the truck and performing at major malls throughout the United States and Canada. Three years later when Scollin’s landed a contract to produce the national tour of Hanna-Barbera’s popular “Banana Splits”, Elliott was tagged to lead the troupe and play the part of “Fleegle”. A year later, the TV series was cancelled and the tour ended.
A five-year stint in Nashville with country rock band, North Fork Western, was followed by two years at Berklee College of Music studying Arranging and Composition, which was followed by two years of college in Gainesville, Florida where he briefly – VERY briefly – thought of becoming a lawyer.
Coming to his senses, our hero fled Gainesville in his ancient, dented and rusting green Ford station wagon, intent on returning to Nashville to find his fortune… only to break down in Atlanta, Georgia where he remains today.
As owner of Bert Elliott Sound he started small, but soon built a thriving audio post production company, providing services for corporate clients such as Coca Cola, IBM, Bell South, and Delta Airlines. He also maintained a busy performing life, believing that by doing so he could successfully straddle the divide between corporate and creative. He was half of “Mr. Arpeggio and Pegg’s Puppets”, partnering with well-known puppeteer Pegg Callahan in a popular adult puppet duo. He also performed with a variety of club bands throughout the region. But after years of developing his career, it was time for a re-examination break, and he headed for Europe with a backpack and a saxophone.
Less than a month into his travels, his perspective on life was permanently skewed by a chance encounter. Resting outside a train station in Copenhagen after an all night trip from Amsterdam, he looked up to see the derby-hat-and-feather-boa-wearing, over-the-shoulder-washtub-bass-carrying
Danny Fitzgerald, Europe’s most famous “busker”, or street musician. Captivated by the man’s vagabond panache, Garrison grabbed his pack and followed, introducing himself to the diminutive, yet larger than life character. Fitzgerald was headed for yet another afternoon of street theater with “The Lost and Wandering Blues and Jazz Band”, a rag-tag group of performers he led. In less than an hour, Elliott was a busker in good standing, welcomed as a new member of The Lost and Wandering Blues and Jazz Band… and forever changed.
Though he only remained in Europe another 2 months, Elliott has since returned numerous times to renew his busking credentials with Fitzgerald and company. He credits the leader of The Lost and Wandering Blues and Jazz Band with introducing him to many of the songs on “I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed”, and inspiring him to complete the project.
Even as “I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed” was near completion, Elliott’s original music, that had been sitting on the shelf for years while he produced for others, was calling to be included as part of Elliott’s debut as an artist. It was during this time that Elliott was also working with Earl Klugh, the legendary jazz guitarist, on his new release, “Naked Guitar”
As Elliott engineered for Klugh’s project, Earl took a liking to the songs he heard Elliott producing for himself, and graciously offered to appear as a guest artist on the “I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed” CD. He appears on three tracks. As a bonus during this creative period, Klugh’s “Naked Guitar” CD was nominated for a Grammy!
Now, with the release of his two debut CD’s, Garrison Elliott pays tribute to an era of timeless, uniquely American music on the “I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed” CD, with eleven of the twelve tracks being classics… some more familiar than others. Only the final track on this CD is an original Garrison Elliott song. That same track appears on the “Letters Never Sent” CD as well, transitioning the listener to Elliott’s more contemporary, all original works.
Listening to this music, the word “honest” comes to mind. No posing. No ego. Simple, straightforward delivery. Impeccable performances. This is music that can be appreciated at any level. A student of music? You’ll listen long and hard to find better musicianship. An engineer?
The recording could be used for a master class. A romantic? Turn down the lights, kick off your shoes and invite your honey to join you on the couch.
Garrison Elliott is a work in progress, with a story to tell. You may never know all the details, but read carefully between the lines of “Letters Never Sent” and “I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed”, and you may catch a glimpse of an interesting, complicated life few of us have the talent… or the courage… to live.