Unexpected Tokens of Appreciation for London Buskers

Published March 10, 2024

In the bustling streets of London, buskers have started to receive some rather unconventional tokens of appreciation from passersby. As living expenses rise, the tradition of tossing coins into a performer's instrument case is evolving into a variety of odd gifts.

From Photographs to Creamy Substances

Francesco Nasone, a 32-year-old singer and guitarist, has experienced firsthand the curious new forms of gratuity. He recounts finding printed photographs of himself that spectators have slipped into his guitar case. Nasone appreciates the sentiment, acknowledging it as kind and perhaps a touch romantic, but it does strike him as odd.

Other street musicians have encountered similarly bizarre items. A guitarist known as Motarga, aged 34, recalls being left with a substance he suspects to be face cream. Alison Gabrielle, an electric cello player, once received what seemed to be partially eaten candy floss. Some items are so odd that they defy identification.

Unwanted Gifts and Alcoholic Treats

The weird keeps coming for these buskers. Singer Debbie Chazen found herself saddled with 15 phone cases left in her bag by a man who seemingly shoplifted them from around Waterloo station. The vendors didn't want them back, so now Chazen keeps a pile of unusable phone cases at home.

Despite the oddities, there are pleasant surprises too. Cedar Rose Johnson, a 23-year-old performer, has been given cans of cocktails, and other buskers report receiving cans of lager as a reward for their musical efforts.

A Chance Encounter Leads to Stardom

Amidst these peculiar offerings, there can be moments of magic. Macy Owen, a 19-year-old musician, experienced a transformative event when she covered a Bastille song on the street, only to have the band members themselves stop to listen. Impressed, they invited her to perform on stage with them that evening. Singing in front of thousands, Owen experienced what she describes as one of the most fulfilling moments of her life.

busking, photograph, tipping