Performer Profile – Den Hoed Quartet

Hello everyone!

Time for another performer profile! We met up with the guys from Den Hoed vzw earlier this year, and enjoyed talking to them very much. We discussed our common interest in streetmusic with them, and they had a lot of good stories to tell. These guys are such interesting examples of the value of streetmusic: established and respected in their hometown of Ghent through busking, but also continuing to reach new audiences everyday. How could we not ask them to answer our questions and talk about how Den Hoed Quartet came about?! We’ll stop talking now, you just enjoy reading what they had to say!

Den Hoed Quartet 4Why are you playing on the streets?
We play on the streets for a lot of reasons.Of course it helps that we make a bit of money with it, but the most important thing about it, is that it helps to clear out the head. Playing on the streets, and playing music in general, keeps you in balance, and helps you to process any negative emotions.Playing on the street means direct contact with your audience, and people on the street are the most honest audience you will ever get. By basically throwing your music in people’s faces, you’ll get honest feedback, and in general, we get very nice compliments when playing on the street. Of course we also think playing on the street is a great way to promote your band, on a good day we’ll have made some cash, and a booking for a gig!But first and foremost, it’s great fun. Nothing better in this world than stepping out on your city’s streets and performing your art for the world to see!
Do you remember your first time playing on the streets? What convinced you to do that?
Playing on the street has always been a big part of us as a band.
Bauke’s been making music on the street since he was about 17, mainly just to make money in those days. When Den Hoed (the duo) was born, it was only natural for us to start playing that music on the street right away, we wanted to perform our music, and needed to make some money doing it. Seeing as how we’re really only talented in one thing, from then on it was pretty clear what we had to do with our lives!A few years later Den Hoed Quartet saw the light of day, all musicians who loved busking, and there was just no way we would spend more than 2-3 rehearsals indoors. Taking our instruments to the street wasn’t even a question anymore at that point, it was just the logical thing to do…

Den Hoed Quartet 3

What is your favorite location to play at?

The Korenmarkt in Ghent is a nice place to play, as well as the surrounding areas.
During the Gentse Feesten the Baudelostraat is one of our favourite places too, as well as anything around Sint-Jacobs.

What is your favorite song to play?

We couldn’t really tell you, we basically just play what feels right at that moment…
Because our music is based on improvisation, the biggest part of any song depends on what mood we’re in, and what happens musically between us.Den hoed Quartet

What is the value of street musicians? What does it mean to you?

The true value of street musicians is that they make the city a more beautiful place to live, walk and be in. Any form of art originally comes from the street, ’cause it’s where things happen, where people meet and where life takes place. It’s only natural that it should always find its way back there, back to where people can see and enjoy it. You see that not only in music, but also other types of street performances and street art.
Music and art are necessary in the public picture, if not just to challenge people who would otherwise never go and see it, than just to be an open forum for what you do.

Who is your inspiration? If you could choose one artist, dead or alive, to collaborate with, who would it be?

If we have to pick 1 person, it would have to be Xero Slingsby. He was a genious saxophone player from Leeds, a street musician and just a bit trashy, just like us. With his band Xero Slingsby and The Works they made a somewhat different sound of punk-jazz, with a raw energy that we can certainly appreciate.

Hope you enjoyed this new Performer Profile. If you did, go check these buskers out here and here. Also great news for those of you living in Leuven! Den Hoed Quartet will be playing in the Diestsestraat this Saturday (27/4) at 2:30 pm. So if you’re curious about how they sound live: no excuses, go and listen for yourselves! You can find a description of the event with all the practical information on facebook.

We are still looking for more musicians with interesting stories, willing to answer our six short questions. Let us know if you know people that fit the description! Also, a second Sidewalk Sounds pop-up concert is being organized. If you want to join us, contact us at or through our facebook-page!

Until next time,
Sidewalk Sounds

A report of our first meeting!

Hi guys!

We are back with a super exciting update! As you probably all know, we had our first Sidewalk Sounds event on the 30th of March. On that day, Wisper held its open house at OPEK. We were given the chance to organise a welcoming act for the people that would arrive.


We contacted a lot of you, and we were very happy that 3 street musicians were free to join us that Saturday. We met with Kamiel Verbeke, Staf Nys and Debbie Lambregts at noon in order to get to know each other. We ate something together and meanwhile we talked about music, busking and everything else that came to mind. At around 1 pm, the time had come to take up the instruments: we were ready to have some fun!


The weather was as could be expected from our Belgian extended winter. It was chilly but thankfully there was no rain, so we decided to take it outside. OPEK has a lovely entrance hall with pleasurable accoustics, so the musicians placed their guitar cases on the platform and positioned themselves – as true buskers do – on the same level as their audience.

And then the fun could begin! Everything happened really relaxed: they each in turn played their songs, and allowed for the other two to pitch in. This led to some awesome covers and entertaining moments. Debbie never had played the harmonica before, and she took it up like it was nothing! As for Staf, the youngest of the trio, it even was his first time ever busking. They all amazed us with their enthusiasm and kept on entertaining us for longer than 2 hours.

After a good while, everyone’s hands and feet started getting a bit cold, so we went inside to have a hot drink and a chat. We absolutely enjoyed ourselves that Saturday and it was even more fun to see that the musicians did too! We received great feedback from various people and got really excited about organising another meeting soon. We want to thank everyone that helped make this awesome day happen: first and foremost Staf, Debbie and Kamiel for making the time to come out and give us a great performance, and of course also Wisper vzw for allowing us to give our project a try at their event.

In the near future, we want to organise a sortlike event in the city. If you’re up for something like that, do let us know. It would be great to have more voices, more instruments and even more passionate people playing together! If you want to be added to our mailing list, just e-mail us at and we will keep you posted of our upcoming events.

Until next time,
Sidewalk Sounds

Performer Profile – Gérard Spencer

Hello friends!

We’ve got an international guest with us for this performer profile! His name is Gérard Spencer, and he’s originally from the UK. He studied in Belgium and Wales, travelled to India and Israel as a volunteer and visited lots of other places while working for the European Union. He started his own company promoting international education and multilingualism, but currently he is living off of his music in our cold and wet country.

This citizen of the world not only has a lot of interesting stories to tell from the many places he’s seen, but Gérard also plays a fascinating instrument: the hangdrum. Its looks might have you thinking about UFO’s or two wok pans put together, but the sounds it produces will blow your mind.

hahahang paris (2)

We talked to Gérard to find out his view on busking!

Why are you playing on the streets?

Simply because I love it– and because of all the unexpected situations it leads to.

Because it is synonym of complete freedom: I can travel, see new places, meet new people, and discover different cultures; all this while bringing a bit of good musical vibes to all the places I visit… and earn a living at the same time.

Because I can make people curious, because I can make children dance, because I can make people happy, because I can make people cry… because street performing truly is life changing.

Do you remember your first time playing on the streets? What convinced you to do that?

The first time I played on the street must have been around October 2011 in Norwich, UK. I simply played there to share some of my music, observe the public reaction, and last but not least, see how much money I could earn in a few hours.

The funny thing is that now, one and a half years later (March 2013), I am giving up my full time job (a social enterprise that I created, EUROPEDUCATION) to go into music full time. Street performing will be one of my activities amongst many others: festivals, concerts, events etc.


What is your favorite location to play at?

For street performing, I would definitely say Brussels. (Surprisingly, Brussels is a lot better than Paris and London for instance)! But I am soon off to play in other European cities such as Edinburgh, Dublin, Berlin, Stockholm and Amsterdam. After having experienced those cities (and other touristic cities in and out of Europe), my answer will most probably change. It is very important to mention that tourism is very important for street performers. Generally speaking, tourists are a lot more receptive to street performing than locals. I am also very much looking forward to playing in India at some point.

But when I simply play for myself, the answer is very different: I would say inspiring places such as the peak of a mountain, a desert, a forest, a park, a field, a beach etc.

What is your favourite song to play?

I do not have any favourite song to play. I really enjoy playing all of my pieces. I guess the answer depends on my mood.

What is the value of street musicians? What does it mean to you?

The values of street musicians (and street artists in general): a very broad question, I do not really know, it will depend from one artist to another so I will just answer for myself. Street music means many things to me:

–      Entertain and inspire: street music and music in general is a form of entertainment; I really enjoy giving those “moments of pleasure” to others. In certain cases, music is a lot more powerful than entertainment and can become something ‘deep and personal’ with strong and vibrant reactions from the listener.

–      Surprise: unfortunately, street performing has a certain social prejudice – it is not exactly the most valued activity in our occidental society. I like saying to the people that I meet while playing on the streets that I did go to university, that I speak several languages, that I worked in the European Parliament and that I launched a business. Many people will say: “but why are you play on the streets”? – I will answer: “because I enjoy it”. Playing in a complete suit is also good fun as people do not expect street musicians to be playing in a nice and elegant suit!

–      Respect: if someone asks me to stop, I will stop as I do not want to be of any disturbance to anyone.

 Who is your inspiration? If you could choose one artist, dead or alive, to collaborate with, who would it be?

I have lots of inspiration from all sorts of people: musicians, entrepreneurs, academics, teachers, doctors, chefs, social workers and many more. I mostly admire three things:

–      The hard work and long hours put in a certain discipline or activity.

–      If the work contributes positively to society and adds something to the life of others.

–      The ability to inspire others.

One artist (who is still alive) I would like to collaborate with: Anouhar Brahem, a Tunisian composer and Oud player. I really enjoy his music, especially two of his albums: “Le pas du chat noir” and “Le voyage de Sahar”.

That concludes our short interview with Gérard. We were very happy to have him talk to us and hear about his experiences and inspiration Such an interesting guy! We would like to end by refering you once more to the Sidewalk Sounds facebookpage where you can find regularly updates on our projects. Leave your suggestions, questions or remarks in a comment. We love to hear from you!

Until next time,
Sidewalk Sounds

Performer profile – B Road Bastards

Hi everyone,

We’re back with a brand new performer profile! We interviewed three young street musicians this time. They go by the name of the B Road Bastards. Their set-up consists out of a sax (Ambroos De Schepper), a guitar (Florian De Schepper) and the cajon (Wout Van Liedekerke).

But these guys are no ordinary group of buskers, they are musicians on a mission! Staring in March 2013, they plan to busk in different cities all starting with a B. The first stop was Barcelona, where they played the streets from the 18th till the 21st of March. What the next location will be, we can only guess! If you want to stay posted on their following adventures, make sure you like their page on facebook.


As soon as they got back from their trip, the B Road Bastards answered our questions. Read on to see what they had to say!

-Why are you playing on the streets?

To visit other cities, countries, to meet other people and musicians. We love to travel and we want to explore a bit of the world. With music, it’s so easy to meet people, even if you don’t speak the same language. And the fact that you can earn a bit of money, makes your trip a bit less expensive.

– Do you remember your first time playing on the streets? What convinced you to do that?

Wout (percussion player) played in the streets in Gent a few years ago. Ambroos (Sax) and Florian (guitar) played djembe together at a flee market when they were 10 and 12 years old. Later on, we played at the Gentse Feesten too. Pleasing the people with music is all we want to do. Getting a smile from a stranger gives us a happy feeling. We just started to play in this trio a week ago, when we went to Barcelona.

– What is your favorite location to play at?

I think we can’t answer that question. Playing for a large crowd on a market square can give a big kick, but we also love playing in small towns. Last year, Me (Florian) and Wout went with our band Broes to the south of France. We played in big cities, but also in small villages, and the people of the smaller places were so kind. The weather was amazing so we could play all night long. This was also the case in Barcelona last week, where we created a little festival on a little square at 1 o’clock in the night. So, generally, a place where the weather is always good 😉


What is your favorite song to play?

I think we don’t know. We all have some songs we prefer. We play own compositions, mixed with other folk melodies and jazz standards. But I think we played the song ‘Impasse Paradis’ (a song we play with the band Bogus) the most last week.

– What is the value of street musicians? What does it mean to you?

Streetmusicians create a big atmosphere. They are necessary in a city. Too bad that you always have to get a permission. A city without musicians playing in the street is like a café that doesn’t serve alcohol.

– Who is your inspiration? If you could choose one artist to collaborate with, who would it be

So many many artists…We find a lot of inspiration in jazz and world music and love the music of the double bass player Renaud Garcia Fons, also the work of Avishai Cohen, sax player Stefano di Battista…


Okay, that’s it for this performer profile everyone. Make sure you go show these young adventurers some love on their facebook page! They have lots of exciting things ahead of them so give them a like so you can stay up to date with their crazy travels.

Also, we have some other exciting things planned with Sidewalk Sounds. Next week, on the 30th of March we will have our very first official little event planned at OPEK (Leuven). We would love to see everyone there: with or without a musical instrument, come say hi! It starts at 1 pm, but if you wish to play some music with us, we’ll meet a little bit earlier. If you want to join our amazing group of performers, let us know at Hope to see you all there!

The next performer profile will also be up later this week! We’ve been talking to the incredibly interesting busker Gérard Spencer, who plays the hangdrum. His answers to our questions will be posted in an article soon so keep your eyes open.

Until next time,
Sidewalk Sounds

Belgian regulations concerning busking

Hi guys!

Today we wanted to write a more practical article for you guys. We collected information about the busking policies of Flanders’ biggest cities. Hopefully this will be of use to all of you who are looking to start busking but don’t know if you need a permit. Or for those of you wishing to expand their activities to another city. Because caution is advised: every city has its own rules and if you want to get the most out of your busking experience, it’s important you keep all the practicalities in mind.

Below you will find either a link or a short text that will provide you with the necessary information on Belgium’s biggest cities and their policy on busking. They are all in Dutch, for obvious reasons. If you happen to need an English translation, let us know in a comment and we will provide you with one!


Straatmuzikanten moeten geen voorafgaande vergunning bekomen hebben om op te treden, op voorwaarde dat:

  1. hun optreden geen oorzaak is van/of aanleiding kan geven tot verstoring van de openbare orde of rust;
  2. hun uitvoering of optreden geen verkeershinder veroorzaakt, noch de vrije doorgang van voetgangers op het trottoir belet;
  3. de omstaanders niet worden lastig gevallen en hun uitvoering of optreden geen doelbewuste bedelarij is;
  4. de ten gehore gebrachte muziek niet elektronisch versterkt is en niet storend is voor de omgeving of voor andere aan gang zijnde en toegelaten evenementen;
  5. en hun uitvoering of optreden op dezelfde plaats niet langer dan één uur duurt en zij per dag geen tweede maal dezelfde plaats innemen.

website stad Leuven


In de stad Antwerpen moet iedereen die wil optreden als straatartiest, een vergunning aanvragen.
Op hun website vind je meer praktische informatie over het verkrijgen van zulke vergunning en de procedure die doorlopen moet worden.

website stad Antwerpen


Straatartiesten in Brussel hebben een vergunning van de Stad nodig. Om dit te verkrijgen moet je aan enkele voorwaarden voldoen, deze vind je online op de website van de stad. Daar vind je eveneens een overzicht van de regels voor optreden.

website stad Brussel


Ook in Gent is een vergunning nodig. De details, prijzen en voorwaarden vind je door te klikken op de volgende link.

website stad Gent


Hasselt werkt met straatmuzikantenaudities. Deze worden vier maal per jaar georganiseerd en worden aangekondigd op de website van de stad. De eerstvolgende auditie vindt plaats op 13 maart. Om hieraan mee te doen, dien je te mailen naar het adres dat op onderstaande website vermeld wordt.

website stad Hasselt


Om als straatmuzikant op te treden moet een vergunning worden aangevraagd bij de dienst Vergunningen, AC Walwein, Walweinstraat te 8000 Brugge (tel. 050/44 83 60).  Je kan er ook terecht voor info betreffende mogelijke locaties.

website stad Brugge


In Oostende moet steeds toestemming gevraagd worden via het UitLoket. Concrete regels en afspraken vind je op hun website.

website stad Oostende


source picture

We hope this small post with practical information is useful to you guys ! If you’re a experienced busker and you have some other useful information or tips for others that are new to the busking lifestyle, leave them in the comments. Sharing is caring 😉 Also the other way round: if you are just starting out and you have some questions, write them down below! We will try to help you out with any busking issues or questions you might have.

As always, we are still happy to welcome any (experienced or beginning) buskers to our Sidewalk Sounds family! If you know someone or are playing the streets yourself: contact us at or leave us a message on facebook!

Until next time,
Sidewalk Sounds

Performer Profile – Joni Sheila

Hello everyone!

Today we have another fun Performer Profile for you guys! Our first female street musician takes us back to BLOW’s hometown of Ghent, where she can often be found playing on the streets. Her name is Joni Sheila, she is a half-Philippino, half-Belgian singer-songwriter. She has been busking for a while now, and the combination of her awesome voice and her yearlong experience as a street artist makes her the ideal candidate for our next Performer Profile!

Joni Sheila

Go on, read along to see what her answers to our questions were! We know you want to 🙂

Why are you playing on the streets?

The street is a good school. If you manage to draw attention on the streets, you’ll certainly be able to entertain on stage.

Do you remember your first time playing on the streets? What convinced you to do that?

That was on the Meir in Antwerp. I was on my way home to Ghent and I had to kill time until my train arrived.

What is your favorite location to play at?

I prefer strategic spots with a lot of people. Usually shopping streets such as Veldstraat in Ghent and Meir in Antwerp.

What is your favorite song to play?

That would be “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5. I play it to warm up the crowd and then I play a song I wrote myself.

What is the value of street musicians? What does it mean to you?

Music buskers can be pleasant surprises when you’re shopping or when you’re on your way to school or work. Street music has its own charm. You can’t compare it to a stage performance. I get a kick out of street music. I enjoy it when I manage to make people stop and when they form a circle.

Who is your inspiration? If you could choose one artist, dead or alive, to collaborate with, who would it be?
KT Tunstall, a woman with balls.

Joni Sheila 2

Awesome picture right?! If you want to know more about Joni, check out her facebookpage here. She often announces when she will be hitting the streets, so hopefully you’ll be able to catch her playing sometime!

As always, don’t hesitate to let us know what you think. Thanks for reading!

Until next time,
Sidewalk Sounds

Performer Profile – Ruben Bertrands

Hey guys!

Just a short while ago, we posted the profile of BLOW. If you haven’t read it, you can check it out here. We were so happy for them when they announced on their facebookpage that they were selected by Mauro Pawlowski for De Nieuwe Lichting on radio station Studio Brussel.

This week, we have a totally different street artist for you. And that is an awesome thing, because diversity is what makes the sidewalk such an interesting stage! We want to give you a complete overview of the talent on our streets. With bands like BLOW who are quickly making a name for themselves, but also with people like our next artist, Ruben Bertrands, someone who doesn’t have a facebook-fanpage (yet?) and who from time to time turns to the streets wanting to express himself through his music. We asked him our set of questions, continue reading to see what his answers were!

Ruben 2

Why are you playing on the streets?

My reason for playing on the streets is pretty simple: whenever i’m broke or could use a quick cash injection, i go play on the street. It’s also a very fun way of traveling across the country; you hitchhike to another city, play for an hour, drink a coffee, stroll around, and then you come back a few euros richer.

Do you remember your first time playing on the streets? What convinced you to do that?

The first time I ever played on the streets was in Brussels, near the Grote markt. After a few months of playing the harmonica, I felt an urge to play for other people. I bought a hat at a second hand store, put it on the ground and just started playing. I remember playing for a while, and seeing people pass without throwing anything in my hat. I asked directions to the train station, feeling that this wasn’t my thing. A man heard me asking directions, and stopped me. He said ‘don’t give up playing’ and gave me 2 euros. I haven’t stopped ever since.

What is your favorite location to play at?

My favorite location is still that same spot on the Grote Markt, maybe because it’s the first place someone ever gave me some money for playing the harmonica. Besides the obvious romantic nostalgia associated with that spot, it’s also a place where many tourists pass. Sometimes I go to Hasselt, sometimes Antwerp. But it really doesn’t matter, home is where your hat is.

What is your favorite song to play?

“Heart of Gold” by Neil Young because it’s the favorite song of a friend of mine that passed away. “Also You Gotta move” by Mississipi John Hurt because it’s the first real blues song I learned to play.

What is the value of street musicians? What does it mean to you?

I can’t really say that I’m a real street musician. The people who have to play to survive, who know that they rely on other people’s generosity for their next meal, those are the real street musicians. I use it as a mean of additional income; I invest the money people give me in consciousness expansion. That’s just a fancy way of saying I use it to buy alcohol & sigarettes. I play the blues, and I believe playing on the streets is the only way to really play the blues. That’s were it started, and I believe that is the place it should stay.

Who is your inspiration? If you could choose one artist to collaborate with, who would it be?

I can’t just name one person. The first harmonica player I loved was Bob Dylan, but he’s a better songwriter than a harmonica player. Sonny Boy Williamson, James Cotton, Sonny Terry… Those are the real harp legends. If I had to choose someone to collaborate with, I’d choose Steven De Bruyn (from The Rhythm Junks) or Roland, the Belgian Blues man.


Another interesting story! Thank you Ruben, for answering our questions.

Remember, guys, if you know other artists who would like to be featured in a Performer Profile like this, just give us a shout! And as always, like and share our facebook page and help us put streetmusicians in the spotlight.

Thank you for reading,
lots of love,

Sidewalk sounds

Performer Profile – BLOW

We are very happy to announce the next Performer Profile to you. This time, we interviewed not one, but three artists! We present to you: BLOW

In their words, they are an acoustic DANCE trio from Belgium. “2 tenor saxes and a drumset… That’s all they need to get the party started!”


No need to use more words to explain to you what they mean with getting a party started. Watch this youtube-clip and just see for yourself:

We asked BLOW our 6 questions to find out what busking means to them.

– Why are you playing on the streets?
Playing in the streets is the closest you get to your audience as a performer. We like to try out new things, both musically and visually, and see the reactions of the crowd. So instead of rehearsing way too many hours in our home studio, we get out there and play. We do spend a lot of time at home though, mostly too write and record new stuff. But once we’ve got a new idea together, we just go somewhere crowded and we start to blow our horns and bang our drums.

– Do you remember your first time playing on the streets? What convinced you to do that?
Ofcourse. It was July 2012 during the Ghent Festival. This project was brand new, so we just had a go. I guess we only had five songs back then, so we would repeat the same set over and over. In every corner of the city. From 20h till 03h in the morning, until the police came to interrupt the party (you can’t play after midnight, I think). There were about 50 people singing and dancing, and they “booh”d the cops… A very memorable moment!

– What is your favorite location to play at?
We love to play in Ghent at the Korenmarkt, the most crowded square in the city centre. You often find us at the HEMA because there’s a roof. The reflections make us sound bigger then we are, especially the drumkit.

– What is your favorite song to play?
We play our own compositions, and they all have a different atmosphere to them. It’s hard to pick just one. Depends on the situation. And if I drop a name no-one will get any wiser… Yet When there’s a lot of people watching, it’s fun to play an easy-going tune, or just jam to one part of the song and build up the intensity. The vibe is really important to us. And to experiment, we just started making cover version of a couple of electronic tracks (’cause that’s the kind of music we play, but then with acoustic instruments). My favourits would be “Voodoo people” by The Prodigy and “One” by Swedish House Mafia. And the crowd loves them as well, so it seems.

BLOW just recently recorded one of their favorite songs to play. Check their brand new video out!

– What is the value of street musicians? What does it mean to you?
To me, street musicians are small surprises you get at a very unexpected moment, and for no reason. A gift that makes your day… When it’s any good, at least That’s why we like to try something original and new. It’s fun to watch the reactions on peoples’ faces.

– Who is your inspiration? If you could choose one artist, dead or alive, to collaborate with, who would it be?
We would definitely like to work with Netsky, our very impressive Belgian dubstep artist. And we would love to make a track with vocals by Azealia Banks! Great voice, attitude and… She’s hot too.


From a singer-songwriter with an amazing voice from Leuven, to an acoustic collective in Ghent. We are very happy to have had two great and interesting performers answer our questions. There will be more to come, so keep an eye out for them! Also, make sure you like BLOW’s facebook-page, and don’t forget to recommend Sidewalk Sounds to all your friends.

Thank you for reading,
untill next time

Sidewalk Sounds

Performer Profile – Ricardo González

First performer in the list of artists that will be shown is Ricardo González. Allow us to quote from his facebook fanpage to give you some information on his background:

Born in the States, brought up in Mexico and finally, after being involved in a crazy film scenario, settled in the beer country of Belgium. After ten years of busking (performing music on the streets) in basically every town he has visited, going from New York, Buenos Aires, Paris, Barcelona, Lisbon, São Paulo, among others, he has earned a great amount of experience in performing for audiences.

Writing his own songs at the same time, he discovered the importance of following his heart and so in November 2009, he took a break from the “real world” and left for South America accompanied only by his guitar. Two years later he toured the streets of France and Spain during one month. Leaving from his hometown Leuven with no money, a backpack full of motivation and his beloved guitar. With the idea of surviving relying on his busking skills Ricardo was joined by young filmmaker Andrés Lûbbert, who captured the whole experience on film. The result of this brave experience is now to be enjoyed as a 52 min long documentary named “Más Corazón”. 

Currently Ricardo is working hard to become a professional performer basing himself on Beethoven’s quote: “Playing without Passion is inexcusable.”

We went to see Ricardo on the 14th of december at a screening of his movie in de Kastaar in Kessel-Lo. It was really nice meeting him. After he sang some songs to get the audience in the mood, we watched Más Corazón.

Besides carrying out a positive philosophy of life, the movie also completely fits in with the objective of Sidewalk Sounds. It shows the trials and hardships that buskers are faced with, as well as the moving friendships between street artists and their unconditional love of music. It was a great experience watching González and Lûbbert’s journey, and it gave us a boost of confidence as to our own project. The documentary made it very clear that great talent can be found everywhere, and passion and determination are what transforms the street into the greatest stage on earth.

We asked Ricardo later that week if he wanted to answer some questions for our first Performer Profile. You can read his answers to our questions below:

– Why are you playing on the streets?
For a few reasons. Firstly, I believe the streets are the best school for an artist/performer. After doing it for more than ten years, I can assure you, I’ve learned tons by busking. I also believe we buskers have the opportunity to touch lives and enrich and inspire others. For example, many children experience live music for the very first time through a busker. Often times children become mesmerized by music, and I like to believe, that brief moment you share together, busker and child, is magical. You can reach people, make them smile or cry. I play on the streets to transmit energy, share my soul with others, and hopefully inspire others to follow their heart, by following my own.

– Do you remember your first time playing on the streets? What convinced you to do that?
Diestsestraat in Leuven. That was where I started. I was just starting to sing and play guitar. I had a couple of ugly discussions at home. I wasn’t allowed to make “noise”, I was forced to play outside. I wasn’t that good, you know, that’s why.
Nobody cares about your dream until you care first. I wanted to become a real musician. I had to start somewhere, and the lowest possible place to start, were the streets. No one gives you anything, unless you have touched them first. Unless you have earned it, unless you have made someone feel something. By playing something they know or really like, for example. The drive to become better is what convinced me to do it.

– What is your favorite location to play at?
My favorite location…. Hmmm several. In Leuven I like to play right in front of the Croccantino Ice cream and waffles shop. There are plenty of people queuing and often times there are children in the audience. Otherwise I’d say somewhere on the Diestsestraat.

– What is your favorite song to play?
My favorite song to play…. That changes often. Currently I love to play The Cure’s “Lovesong”, but before it was “A song for the lovers” by Richard Ashcroft and Bob Dylan’s “You ain’t going nowhere.”

– What is the value of street musicians? What does it mean to you?
Street musicians are transmitters. They carry a vibe and share it with the people that pass by. They are also messengers. Music has the power to make people feel something. The function of a street musician, is to make people feel alive, to reach them and make them be present for a brief moment. To make them forget about their problems, or worries, forget about what they are going to eat later when they get home, or make them forget about the debts they have. Whatever. Artists should remind us about how beautiful life is.

– Who is your inspiration? If you could choose one artist, dead or alive, to collaborate with, who would it be?
I have several heroes. Two longtime buskers and amazing artists that I deeply respect and admire. The Irish singer-songwriters Damien Rice and Glen Hansard. But I would choose Glen. Imagine! He left school at the age of 13 and started playing on the streets since then. I have learned so much about singing and playing with passion thanks to him. He really is outstanding, the way he conveys emotion is phenomenal. Check him out if you don’t know him! Trust me!

Finally a short clip from one of the songs Ricardo performed at De Kastaar.

So there you have it, guys: our first Performer Profile is a fact! We started it off with a great artist with some amazing stories to tell, and there will be certainly a lot more that will follow. We hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as we did writing it. And make sure to let us know what you think. Feedback, good or bad, is always appreciated!

Sidewalk Sounds

Sidewalk Sounds – Performer Profiles

We are very proud to present to you a new concept on our blog!

Apart from sharing interesting videos, websites and information that we find online, we also want to focus on putting up new content that is more close to home. This is why we decided to interview street artists that we find on the streets here in Flanders. We will ask them a list of questions about their love of music and experiences when busking. This will provide vistors with inspirational examples of passionate artists and cast a light on these underappreciated music-lovers. Because they all have some great stories to tell!

We have already programmed interviews with some awesome artists! We are exited to announce the first one, which will be with Ricardo González, a singer-songwriter who can be found performing on the streets in Leuven. The article will be put online tomorrow, but if you are curious about our first guest, you can already check out his facebookpage here.

We hope you are as enthusiastic about our performer profiles as we are! Make sure to let us know what you think.


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