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Nottingham buskers would ‘rather play 10 hours’ than work to make the same money

today3 July 2022

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The sound of music is almost a constant on the streets of Nottingham city centre as buskers aim to bring added life to shopping areas by doing what they love. All different kinds of music can usually be heard playing all hours of the day, from musicians rapping, playing keyboards or getting people to dance to their tune late at night with their saxophone.

All they ask for in return is a little donation so they can afford to keep entertaining others. A duo whose music you may have heard in the city centre recently is from Fin Carr-Hopkins, 25, who lives in Nottingham, and Sidney Strong, 28, who lives in Spondon, Derby.

They make up Cheap Dirty Horse, which started up between the two after the drummer of their punk band Extinction Six decided to go travelling. To keep their passion for music going, Fin and Sidney decided to start busking in Nottingham last month, and Fin says although they’ve only been doing it for a few weeks, they’ve already had some interesting encounters.

READ MORE: The Nottingham busker who has brightened up our city for 20 years

Fin said: “When busking, you can stand there performing for half-and-hour, and no-one will really look, but suddenly you’ll then have a little crowd or someone will come over and make a really nice comment, saying they remind you of someone. You do meet a lot of characters, you definitely pick up a few strange people, too.

“When we were setting up, there was this guy who was leaning on a shop front near us just staring for 15 minutes. People don’t really expect to see this kind of thing.

“I’ve wanted to gig for a long time, so I’ve been working towards that for three or four years trying to get good enough to do it. Then you’ve got to rely on others to get a gig, but with this you can wake up, go out and just perform.”

Fin started studying again this academic year and has a student loan, and also works one or two days per week in a restaurant. Sidney does “odd work here and there”. “Even though I get paid something like 10 times more for working in a restaurant, I’d much rather do this for 10 hours than that for one,” added Fin.



Fin (standing) said he'd "much rather do this for 10 hours than working for one" to earn the same amount of money
Fin (standing) said he’d “much rather do this for 10 hours than working for one” to earn the same amount of money

The three punk band members met less than a year ago after seeing a note on a board in Pirate Studios where they practice. Fin said at the time he saw it, he was trying to find a band but that “everyone else was really boring”.

Sidney said: “Our drummer is due to return soon, and we’ll pick that back up, but busking will probably carry on as well because it’s so much fun. We’ve played in our punk band for about six months before he went away, but we’ve played some cool gigs and didn’t want to have to wait.

“We’re really new and it’s loads of fun. It’s an adventure and I like the adrenaline of playing, I love getting reactions from people. We do a lot of covers but we’ve got a lot of original tracks, too, and we’re adding more originals all the time, such as songs me and Fin have written a long time ago or things we’ve written together in our punk band or for this. They’ve all got a dirty, cheap, punk-rock sensibility to them, but we’ve recently played for folk and accessible.

“The whole point of busking and folk music is to bring music to the people, it’s to be out with regular people who’ve got stories to tell. It’s not polished, pop production, it’s a different vibe, that’s what we’re after.”

As the duo are so new to busking, Sidney said they’re still trying to “figure out” the ideal schedule of how their days should go. But Sidney shared how their days have looked so far, and where they want busking to go in the future.

Sidney said: “We’ll come out at midday and have a set that’s around 20 or 30 minutes long, then we’ll have a little break. Then we’ll do that three or four times through the early afternoon. We want to go into different cities as well and do whole days there, set up in one space, do a few sets, have some lunch and then set up in a different space and keep doing it all day long. That would be really fun.”



Cheap Dirty Horse performing on Clumber Street
Cheap Dirty Horse performing on Clumber Street

In Nottingham city centre, buskers are only allowed to operate in designated areas. However, permits are not required, as long as rules of where they perform are adhered to. Sidney said: “I busked on my own a few years ago too for a short while, and you’ve not needed a permit for as long as I’ve been doing it. We’d love to do it full-time and we’re trying to get out every day that we can.

“Hopefully by next summer, it would be great to get on festivals. We play a big summer sound, upbeat folk, and I think it would sound nice on the festival circuit. Even gigs in Nottingham and other cities would be cool. Our first gig in Nottingham with Extinction Six was at Percy Picklebackers under I’m Not From London.”

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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