Big Busk, Sat 28th July 2012 – Review

04 Aug

Billy Bragg‘s Big Busk is an annual event at the Southbank & open to all musicians. At 2pm there was a rehearsal in the Festival Village (a cavernous room under the Queen Elizabeth Hall), where a motley crew of guitarists, uke players, percussionists & others had gathered to join in the fun.

Guitarist Ben Mandleson ensured everyone was tuned up, then Billy joked that busking tunes should only contain two chords – three was showing off! His crew behind had a selection of large cards with the guitar chords drawn on, which were held up as he played – confusion often reigned in the numbers with quick chord changes when the wrong cards were held up.

Daydream Believer, Big Busk 2012

After a relaxed run through, which included the charming discovery that 11 year old trumpeter Jake, there with his flautist young sister, could play the solo by ear from Chariots Of Fire, we dispersed & were told to mingle with the crowds on the Riverside level outside the Royal Festival Hall. The pre-gig noodling of strangers playing tunes, such as Duelling Banjos, while we waited amused the tourists, many of whom were unaware of what was about to happen.

Just after 4pm the actual Busk began – Billy & crew were high up on stage & the rest of us buskers dotted around on the steps below. It became a huge, enjoyable sing-along in the sunshine. Songs included the following, some with an Olympics’ slant:

A New England, Big Busk 2012

Ukulele chords are linked above for most of the tunes and here’s the YouTube list for more videos, including some of the behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage.



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3 responses to “Big Busk, Sat 28th July 2012 – Review

  1. Jonas (UkuTabs)

    August 5, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Hi there! Passing by to say thank you for referring to UkuTabs (for the A Team by Ed Sheeran). Really appreciate it!

    Looked like a lot a fun by the way, wonderful!

  2. Uncle Rufus

    August 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Brilliant – wish I could have made it. At the last Big Busk, we formed a good group of uke players as others gravitated towards us. At one point I shouted something out to Billy Bragg, who responded: “Ahhh… Ukulele Players. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of THEM!”


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