Recently there has been a lot of talk about the legality of busking on the streets of Long Beach. Several local Facebook groups have discussed it and there is even a “Long Beach Street Performers” group that has sprung up. Busking is an amazing experience that is popular all over the world but seems to lose popularity and respect in the United States for some reason. Buskers are looked at as pan-handlers, as breaking the law, and a nuisance to businesses & residents, when most times it is the exact opposite. Local musician Josh Fischel just has spent the entire month of February busking every day in a different location somewhere in Long Beach. Josh is the creative mind behind the new RIOTstage theater experience as well as the front man for Josh Fischel & The Fiction and his previous project Bargin Music. We got a chance to talk with Josh about why he decided to take this on and some of the challenges he faced.
Shea [LBI]: So where did this idea to busk every day for a month come from?
Josh Fischel: I toured Europe a couple of years ago and busked all over the continent. It had been a while since I had busked and I just missed it and thought it would be fun to busk everyday for a month. It’s evolved into sort of a social and local experiment. I’ve had something interesting, amazing or bizarre happen every night.
Did you pick February because it is the shortest month?
Haha. No, because of Americana I couldn’t have been able to do March or April. First off, I’d be too busy and second, singing without amplification everyday is hard on the voice and I wouldn’t want to mess it up for Americana.
So what was the most bizarre thing that happened to you while busking on the streets of Long Beach?
Well a homeless guy pushing a cart with a bunch of mattresses tried to shove my wife into some bushes. I also got jumped by three guys on second street who tried to steal my guitar!!
Wow! Was there some ass kicking by you in either of those situations? You are a pretty big and intimidating guy…
I was turned the other way when my wife was shoved and didn’t know it happened until after the busk. I feel really bad about that. With the guys on 2nd St, I had my guitar ready, like a sword dude!! I’m not a violent guy but I had to defend myself. A bouncer at a bar on 2nd broke it up before anything happened. He thought I started the fight too!!! I was like, dude, I just want to play my guitar…
Hahaha, what place was the bouncer from?
So what was the BEST thing that happened to you while busking?
Playing in front of DiPiazza’s. Mark is an old friend and The Ziggens, other old friends of mine, were playing that night. I played right before The Ziggens and Brad was warming up on his drums outside the club when I was going to play so I asked him if wanted to do a song with me. He had produced a Bargain Music song for us many years ago so we did that one and it killed. We had never played it before, ever, but it sounded like we had been doing it for decades. It was a pretty special moment. Not just in busking but my entire life. The Ziggens and I have a similar fan base and there were a lot of old friends there. We had probably 40 or people watching and cheering. To top it off my best buddy Crumb played with me too. Epic night.
Sounds pretty epic!
As a grand finale you are doing a show at Fingerprints with some friends, tell me a little more about that.
I thought it would be nice to have a big final night and get a bunch of friends down. People have really responded and we’ve got a huge group of ridiculously talented people playing. Rand from Fingerprints has been really supportive of the idea and I’m really stoked to end it there. We’re also filming it and I have a bunch of friends all over the US and the world busking on the same day. They’re going to film it as well and I’m gonna cut it down for a little movie. I’ve got a lot of talented friends out there. I’m pretty damn excited about it.
The end of the month long busking extravaganza is talking place on Friday, February 28th starting at 7pm in front of Fingerprints Music in Long Beach. Josh will have a bunch of guests including Zack Walters, Jack Maness, Jonelle Holden, Elizabeth Messick, Abbie Fischel, Mr. Crumb, Josiah Miller, Mark Torromeo, Matt Proffit, Chris Lyles, Laura Merryfield, Roland Cruces, Justin Iannelli, Greggory Moore, Mic Dangerously, Kris Jackson, and many more. It’s gonna be epic. Please come down and support this free event outside, at least outside to start, so no RSVP is necessary. Bring your friends, arrive early, and grab a table on the patio and we’ll send Josh & February off in style.[adrotate banner=”4″]