Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Another look at the Toronto Buskerfest that Collette and I attended last week. A big day with lots going on, many pictures taken, much video recorded and therefore this is coming in installments.

If I was a good inter net reporter I would know the name of each performer, where they were from, how long they had been busking ... but I'm not an internet (or any other kind) reporter at all, so deal with it. Having said that though, the video starts with Matt James from Australia. This guy combined a Didgeridoo with a National steel guitar; an unusual combination that worked. Hell, he used a slide on the guitar so that works for me in pretty much any context.

The next performer is basic wunderkind, a 9 year fiddler from PEI, Liam McGlashom by name. Child prodigies normally make me want to vomit; talented or not they generally have the sincerity of a right wing religious leader a the Bunny Ranch. Precocious is not cute. Precocious is "open the window I'm going to hurl" But I liked this kid. He just sat there on his chair, kind of in a corner, picking away, changing easily from one tune to the next, almost oblivious to the crowd, like he was back home in his kitchen, playing for himself. No feigned smile, no snappy patter, no glittering costumes. And he can play.

You're going to see a couple of jugglers in the video, both of them on elevated unicycles and I really don't know who they are. Juggling is ok. Juggling on a super tall unicycle is ok. Patter that demands the audience love you while poking fun at a Toronto audience's lack of spontaneity is just way too obvious. I would be pissed by this treatment but I am far too blase. I'm from Toronto.

I'm keeping the videos short to maintain the quality and because I don't want the viewer to fall asleep on me. Yes, I know you do. I can hear you. Snoring, drewl on your chin. Close your mouth .. no, seriously, wipe your chin and close your mouth. I'll wait ......

Welcome back. So each of the videos will have a "featured act" The first one is the Velvet Mat and Charlie show. What you see in the video is severely edited for time. These two really liked to perform ... a lot. It starts out a kind of clown show, with Velvet Mat as the principal performer and Charlie as a crew member.

Some jokes, a little physical comedy, and nobody really believing that Charlie was a dude. Their centerpiece was the German wheel, this huge metal hoop that someone goes inside of while it spins around. Mat is the performer, that is the shtick. He gets himself all "spangly", he gets some big dude from Buffalo to don a shower cap, a cape and panties (hey, that requires guts, big dudes from Buffalo are scary) and take a turn in the wheel. Mat dances around, preparing to take the wheel and its pretty funny.

The real gag is, of course, that Mat is not going to touch the wheel. Charlie sheds her crew member costume and voila, she is a German wheel acrobat. This was the shortest part of the act and that was a shame because it was a pretty impressive thing to see. Look at this girl, can she weigh 100 pounds? The wheel weighed at least that and she tossed the thing around like it was a hula hoop. Apparently she gave birth a couple weeks before you see her here which made it official ... every woman in the audience hated her .

Toronto Buskerfest Part One from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.
Next installment will feature Squid. No, it's not seafood. Trust me, you will want to see this

1 comment:

Elizabeth McClung said...

Thanks for that - I wish they would come here - thanks to Collette for the pictures also, the one of the kid is amazing becuase it is difficult to tell if he knows how to play or not by his expression, also some nice color contrast.

I look forward to squid. WE used to have the magicians festival and the used to busk and that was a treat, as it was a convention but we saw the "goods" for free as it were.

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