Street Musician's Busking Pot

Every time I venture out to do a bit of street busking, I am always surprised at the wide variety of objects people seem to offer me or place in my guitar case instead of a simple coin or two.

I have received just about everything you could imagine from melted chocolate bars, cans of beer, broken biscuits, love letters, telephone numbers, job offers, grapes, skittles, m&m’s, drugs, burger vouchers, cigarettes, wine, coffee and half eaten sandwiches to name a few.

Busking Case

Some people are just taking the mick, and others will generally go to the nearest shop and buy you a bunch of grapes or a bottle of wine just to say thank you for playing a few of their favourite tunes.

Sometimes it really does bring a smile to your face and today, I had a couple of new ones.


After playing in the street for about an hour and a half, a guy came up to me and said ‘Hey mate, do you want this sausage roll ?’ He had bought two from the bakery a few yards up the high street, had one himself and offered me the other.

It was still hot and he didn’t look like the sort of bloke who would hide something nasty in it, so I said thanks and put it behind my busking case thinking ‘what a nice guy !’ At the same time I was cautiously wondering whether or not I should eat it later or dump it – just in case.

Continuing on with my session, around an hour later, some kid about 8 years old walked up to me (after obviously taking a trip to the local Iceland store) and stuck 3 of those freezy pop things in my case. You know, the ones you used to get when you were a kid with loads of dodgy E numbers in. It was a really hot day, and unfortunately they weren’t frozen, but the thought was there, and it’s the thought that counts.

It made me laugh, cause no one’s ever given me a freezy pop before, especially when out busking.

Twenty minutes down the line, a girl approached me, and with a smile said’ I hope you like chocolate !’ and placed two of those green shiny yo yo mint chocolate biscuit thingys in my hand. ‘Great’, I thought, ‘that’s dessert sorted !.’


On my way home, after packing away the freezies, and still pondering whether or not to eat the sausage roll, I thought of all the funny things people have given me in the past, and thought it would be a great idea to start a page on the things people give me while I’m out busking.

I thought in a few months time it could make for some interesting viewing.

So here it is…

The Street Musician Alternative Busking Pot

Last time I went busking, somebody gave me a Mc Donald’s fruit bag, but I’ll start the pot off with what I received today.

A Sausage roll..

Sausage Roll

..3 freezy pops..

Freezy Pops

..and 2 mint Yo Yo type biscuits..

Yo-Yo Biscuits

Not bad for a days work.

I do really appreciate all the cash and gifts people place in my guitar case when I’m out busking, and every time someone throws a coin, gift, note or whatever in the pot, it really does make my day.

Just so our readers don’t feel left out on this one, the Street Musician Busking Pot is also open to postal gifts, parcels, emails, donations and anything else you feel like sending.

Take a look at my contact page for details of how to reach me.

Check back in a couple of weeks to see what else I get given by all the strange (but wonderful) people out there.

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17 comments to Street Musician’s Busking Pot

  • I have never gone out busking but I have been considering trying it. it cant be bad to make a little money and get a free lunch in the process

  • Yeah, it’s just whether you risk eating it or not.

  • I used to busk regular in Canterbury, in fact I’ve busked all over Europe many years ago and towns and cities Liverpool,Newcastle ect.. but Canturbury became a place that i settled in. I busked under a subway and became pretty popular with the local people who used it.
    On this paticular day I was singing and playing a song called norweegen wood by the beatles and a middle aged couple stopped and watched me. They aproached me when I finished and asked me to play that song again which I did and after talking for some time so informed me that she was a music teacher and that I sounded great she was very impressed.She then asked me if I played 12 string acoustic I replied yes and then she vanished in a hurry only to return about an hour later carrying a brand new guitar case with a red bow on it she placed it next to my open case and said go on open it its yours. When I opened it I was shocked. it was a brand new Fender acoustic I couldnt accept it as it must have cost her a few hundred quid there and then. But she insisted that I now owned this guitar. She told me she had a brain tumer and that she only had a few months to live and she had always wanted to buy a fender 12 string. she said that I have made one of her dreams come true and that I should look after it for her.

    I have had may things thrown in my case whilst busking but that occasion will be hard to beat. but then saying that you never know whats around the next corner.


  • Eren

    Thats incredible, im just looking up permit type stuff for Coventry now but that almost brought a tear to my eye. do you still have that guitar? thats an amazing event right there.

  • Thanks Dave, what an amazing story. The kindness of some people is incredible. Like you say, you never know what’s around the next corner.

    It’s nice to know that although she isn’t around anymore, her soul lives on through that guitar and her act of kindness will never be forgotten.

    Wouldn’t it be great if all those passers by in the street who gain so much pleasure from the music you play with it, knew just how it came to be.

  • Star

    Hello Gentlemen,

    I have been busking for years and have made my simple living at it for going on three years.

    Kier, I was so touched by your story. I cried and cried. Thank you for sharing.

    I have a couple of stories too.

    I am a singer and when I started I had nothing but a song book and a pot. I would stand in front of grocery stores and sing. One day a man looked at me oddly, said nothing. I got nervous as I am a woman and do not take to well to being ogled strangely. LOL He left, “whew” I thought and kept on singing. About a half an hour later he came back and summoned me over to his trunk. Oh yeah, that boosted my confidence in this gentleman. But again, like the sandwich given to you, I had to think what to do. I choose to trust and when I came he had a whole Kustom PA system in the truck and said, “here this is my tip.” I still have and use the system although not when street performing. I have moved on to a battery op amplifier.

    Next, on a different corner a few years in. I saw another man b-lining in my direction. Let me describe him. His pants where held on with rope, wearing a blanket like a cape and had a wig on his head backwards and it had seen much better days. God bless him but his mind had seen straighter days. Being again a woman and in a vulnerable position, I braced myself to what was coming but kept on singing. He approached, froze and stared, then put his hand into somewhere in his clothing and put 0.12 cents in my pot. First, he humbled me because I had judged him and he was a kind and gentle soul. Second, he gave me everything he had. All of his money. To this date that is the largest tip I have ever received. He gave me everything he had. May peace be with him.

    I have more stories but those two I will share now.

    Thanks for the page


    PS Use a Roland BA330 amp, runs on 8 AA batteries, I use rechargeable.

  • Matt Brompton :)

    a fantastic page, I have been busking for a good 7 years on and off, and after a hard afternoon singing, dancing and playing I am always exhausted and overwhelmed by the kind hearted people I meet :) I too have many stories, however I would like to share a poem,

    I Busk, Because I Enjoy!
    by Matthew Brompton on Wednesday, 5 January 2011 at 03:51 ·

    Do you know why I’m here?
    playing in the street?
    do you know who I am?
    or the places Ive been?
    ‘get a job’ I often hear,
    or ‘fucking scrounger, get out of here!’,
    Is it that you dislike, the music I play?
    or are you more deserving?
    or just full of hate?
    you do what you do,
    and Ill keep on playing,
    because, most comments I get,
    are less then condeming,
    and the smiles I get are more then heart warming.

    Yes I’ll admit, at first it was cash,
    that drove me to play, as people walk past.
    but now I’m addicted, no, not to drugs,
    but to the people inspired, and the ones full of love.
    ‘You’re fucking awesome’
    ‘My what a voice!’
    ‘your not half bad,
    your three quarters good!’
    ‘thank you’ some say,
    ‘You’ve Brightened my day,’
    the best by far is a smile.
    and children dancing in the street, always makes it worthwhile.

    some strange things,
    have been dropped in my hat,
    cigerretes, sandwiches, vouchers and spliffs,
    but by far the strangest,
    was a freshly caught fish,
    but please dont assume,
    I’m homeless and poor,
    I busk, because I enjoy!
    and not for one reason more.

    This is the Intellectual Property of Matthew Brompton, from 04th January 2011 and the use of all or part without consent is strictly prohibited. The use of this work for non profit reasons is permitted only if due recognition is given

  • Joe Altieri

    Really enjoying these posts, I’m new to being a street musician, but facing being homeless soon, I was debating whether I should sell an old Yamaha acoustic guitar for $50 in a garage sale … I’m glad I decided to keep it. Most of the locals here in Astoria, OR think I’m doing pretty well on the music, some fast instrumentals, and some Eagles and Folk/Blues covers too …
    Got a weekly gig at the local Farmer’s Market here, and am having more fun than working at Home Depot, Safeway, or Rite Aid ever was. The poorer I get, the more I learn, and appreciate what’s around me. Someone said there’s a reason for everything. I would never have had the courage to perform if conditions were better here. Sure I have a capo, and even an MP3 player and earbuds. If I waited until I was ‘ready’, it might be next summer. What I’m seeing around me finally makes sense, including retired tourists who complement me, at 60, for being ‘out here’ and trying.
    Being poor isn’t a disease, it’s an opportunity to see and learn. Glad I was always courteous and friendly when working retail. I hide from no one, and still get maybe one day a week at Safeway serving deli food. All I can say is that it could be worse. I’m outside, singing and playing guitar and having fun. How many people can say that?

  • A proper coffee in a small cup with a little biscuit in the saucer that was served and cleared away while I was playing with my eyes closed ,a high class cake,pizza,mistletoe,a ‘flute’ from the Phillipines,a ticket for an Irish duo.

  • Taz

    Hi I play the sax and busk on a regular basis, mostly around the Midlands UK. I love the feeling of vulnerability that you feel, I find it exciting.
    I’ve had a kid buy a chocolate bar for me thinking I was homeless (I told him I wasn’t) I’ve had tobacco dropped for me (I don’t smoke either) sandwiches are common place, but something I always really appreciate is a bottle of ice cold water on a hot day. I’ve had notes saying thank you for the beautiful music and I’ve had kids dancing (I really love that one) I’ve been invited onto Radio Cov and Warwick and I’ve had loads of private gigs from it. BUT my most precious memory to date, is whan a little old lady came up yo me and said “Thank you for your music, you’ve reminded me of when I used to go dancing with my husband before he died” I wept.

    Long may busking continue.

  • Jeff

    These stories are amazing. I just started busking this past November (mostly in Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire), and I’m absolutely loving it. One experience sticks out in my mind, and I thought I’d share it.

    I was playing in the centre of Stratford in December, and a group of 15 teenagers started hanging around. They were speaking French, but they were talking so loud that I could barely hear myself playing my (not amplified) keyboard. Eventually they all stood up and lined up in front of me, barely controlling their laughter. Each of them dropped a penny into my case. Then, they resumed hanging out immediately behind me, still being excessively loud.

    I was naturally not that pleased, but what could I do? I simply kept playing, trying to shut them out as best I could. Twenty minutes later, they lined up and did the same “drop a penny” routine again. I kept playing, and a few minutes later one of the teens put a beautiful drawing she had sketched into my case, along with…a can of Coca-Cola, a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, and a worn pencil – presumably the same one she had used to make the lovely sketch. It really brought a smile to my face, even if I didn’t earn much (financially) from the exchange.

    Fast forward a few hours, and I was back at home, and my blood sugar had significantly dropped. As a Type 1 diabetic, I can often notice the warning signs coming on, but this time it took me a bit by surprise. I didn’t have much in the way of sugar lying around my flat – and then I remembered the can of Coca-Cola. Thanks, kids from France; that can of Coke did the trick. :)

  • Very cool page. Not all tips are cash, for sure. One of the best tips I ever got was a class of kindergarten age kids came by–all roped together with a teacher leading them through a busy market place. I just kept on playing an old Elizabeth Cotton version of “Glory, Glory” and the kids all just started dancing to the music–obviously having a great time. While I was playing, I have to admit that I was thinking “this has just gotta bring in a nice tip.” But the kids finally were moved along by the teacher, and nothing showed up in the tip can. But–for those few minutes, I had the best tip ever–the chance to make a few kids happy.

    I still gotta get out more often, though–I never got a twelve-string guitar yet! 😉

  • Hi Guys

    Its me again With the story of the 12string Fender. Just wanted you guys to know that Ive been Gigging now for the past 12 months and I’m now doing 2/4 gigs a week. So I put a pick up in the 12 string and always play Norweegen Wood on it at my gigs in memory of Maggie.

    If anyone wants to know what I sound like as a solo acoustic vocalist I have a few live demos on my website recorded at a gig @ Heads up folks keep the stories rolling in.

    Dave x

  • Bob

    Thanks for the great stories. I play the musical saw in Tennessee and one of my greatest busking days occurred about two weeks after I had started busking. I was playing across from a sidewalk café, and I noticed a woman dining alone. After she finished eating she kept sitting there listening to the music. After about an hour, she came over to me with tears in her eyes and said her father had played the musical saw and when I started playing the song amazing grace it brought her to tears, as this had been her father’s favorite tune on the saw. She thanked me for the pleasure that I had given her that day, took my hand and placed $100 bill in it. A busker friend of mine told me that that is called an Oscar among buskers. That same day I received a small rock from a tiny girl. Her father said that she had found it earlier that day and had treasured it all day but wanted to give it to me as a tip. You just can’t beat the pleasure of busking.


    Hi Best Wishes All ,

    Yeah , enjoyed reading all your postds .I have been doing a little busking on and off , recently and have had a great time .As people say , you can get ointeresting things , but don’t forget you don’t HAVE TO accept the beer …………or cigarettes .Once , I a fellow earnestly inserted a cigarette in my mouth and lit it ………….I was convinced it was some kind of Initiation .That cigarette actually tasted good ! But , generally I would advise all to refrain from smoking .

    At London Bridge some Scandinavian tourists formed a group around me for a photocall . They then thrust a 20 pound note in my hand . Another guy recently , seeing me with my guitar around my neck , not even playing , exclaimed ‘ that’s the b——-s , and proffered the old £ 20 note .

    I sometimes platy in an underpass , where there aren’t many folks , but the acoustics are good . One can practice and get into the groove .

    My work is for World Peace , no kidding , and people do go for it .I welcome you all to join in !


  • Steve

    Ha! please don’t leave us in suspense, did you eat the sausage roll ??
    Great website thanks

  • Cornelius

    I have had lemon drizzle cake, a chocolate Father Christmas, a Werther’s Original (butterscotch, for those not in the loop), toy money, a half-consumed fizzy drink, empty sweet wrappers… but never 12-string guitar yet. Once, when busking in a small town in Portugal on New Year’s Eve, a man stopped and listened for a bit, disappeared for 10 minutes or so, then came back and dropped a brown paper envelope in my case. When I came to the end of the tune, I opened it to find 40 Euros inside! My biggest single drop, without a doubt.

    The way I acquired my fiddle was similar to the 12-string guitar story, although I was not busking at the time and I knew the person fairly well. I was a beginner on the fiddle at that time and, in return for his generosity, I vowed to persevere with it.

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