Mark Knopfler- Busk in London

Busking talent on the road in next phase of Mayor’s Gigs competition

21 July 2017
  • Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler unveils two iconic London buses to celebrate launch of Gigs, in association with Gibson, on the eve of International Busking Day
  • Gigs enters its next phase today with performances taking place around the city

Young musicians competing to be named the capital’s top buskers will perform aboard two specially commissioned London buses this weekend to help mark International Busking Day, and to launch the next phase of Gigs, the Mayor of London’s annual busking competition.

Both the buses have been wrapped in special Gigs competition livery and one of them was unveiled by Mark Knopfler at Wembley Park today (21 July). The buses feature artists Kal Lavelle, Jay Johnson and Modupe Obasola. They will all be performing as part of International Busking Day having previously been part of the Mayor of London’s annual Gigs busking competition, in association with Gibson.

Street musicians taking part in the Gigs competition will entertain passengers in pitches across London on International Busking Day (Saturday 22 July) and the specially designed buses will be on Route 94 (Acton Green to Piccadilly) and Route 27 (Chiswick to Camden) throughout the day.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is a global capital of culture and we have produced some of the world’s greatest musicians. Many of them start out by busking and our Gigs competition gives them a fantastic opportunity to showcase their work. Over the next couple of weeks, you can enjoy brilliant performances from buskers competing to be crowned the capital’s top musicians and songwriters. Good luck to all those taking part.”

Young musicians across the capital have been applying to be part of Gigs since March. Those selected to take part will perform at 19 special busking pitches in iconic locations across the city from Saturday 22 July – Sunday 6 August. During that time the performers will be seen by an industry panel of music professionals who will select five acts to perform at the Grand Final in three categories – soloists and duos (aged 16-25), youth (aged 11-15) and open (aged 11-25 with up to eight members).

A sixth performer for each category will be chosen via an audience vote – which will be open from Saturday 22 July – Monday 28 August. Members of the public are encouraged to vote for their favourite buskers by visiting: www.london.gov/gigs.

The Gigs Grand Final will take place on Sunday 3 September at Westfield London.

Dire Straits frontman, Mark Knopfler, said: “With so many smaller pub and club venues in London and other cities around the world falling victim to gentrification and rising rents it is more important than ever that enlightened civic authorities actively promote live music and performance in public places. It's good to see the Mayor of London taking this initiative with Gibson Guitars.”

Gibson Brands Chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, said: “Gibson is proud to partner with the Mayor of London in his campaign to support emerging artists and their music.

“London's streets are full with musical talent and many of the world’s most famous Gibson guitar players performed on their local streets to begin their careers, from Hank Williams, to B.B. King, to a new generation of artists such as Jack Savoretti today.”

James Saunders, COO of Wembley Park, added: “We’re thrilled that this years’ Gigs bus has been officially unveiled at Wembley Park. We look forward to welcoming buskers performing in this year’s two week Gigs programme, back to Wembley Park – famous for hosting world renowned performers.” 

London’s buskers are an important part of any visit to the capital, with overwhelming support from tourists. A survey, commissioned by Busk in London, from the University of Westminster’s MusicTank, found that 86 per cent of visitors surveyed in Portobello Road, Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square said busking enhanced their experience.

The Busk in London programme, which aims to champion and support street performance in the capital, has high-profile support from a variety of stars including Billy Bragg, Corinne Bailey Rae, CC Smugglers, Danny Goffey, Fatboy Slim, Hugh Cornwell, Jack Savoretti, Jon McClure (Reverend & The Makers), Kiko BUN, King Charles, KT Tunstall, Andrew Patrick from STOMP, Todd Dorigo, The View, Whinnie Williams and 'Whispering' Bob Harris, who have all signed up as Ambassadors of the Busk in London scheme. A full list of Ambassadors can be found at http://buskinlondon.com/ambassadors.

International Busking Day, now in its third year, was launched by Busk in London in 2015 to celebrate the art of street performance. This year there will be activity happening in every London borough and in over sixty locations around the world, with more cities taking part than ever before – including, for the first time, Lusaka in Zambia, San Jose in Costa Rica and Havana in Cuba. For more information about International Busking Day, visit: http://buskinlondon.com/internationalbuskingday

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Notes to editors

  • Busk in London aims to build on the success over nine years of the annual Gigs busking competition, as well as London Underground's long-running busking scheme. It also builds on the popular London 2012 cultural programme, which saw artists bring a variety of arts and entertainment to high streets and town centres across the capital. Gigs and Busk in London are supported by Network Rail, Eurostar, Westfield Presents, The Institute, Broadgate Estates, City of London, Battersea Power Station, New West End Company, PRS for Music and Transport for London. Gigs is presented in association with Gibson. Follow @buskinlondon on twitter, Instagram and facebook.
  • International Busking Day, now in its third year, is a worldwide celebration of street performance. In 2016, International Busking Day included performances in cities across six continents, from Sydney to Reykjavik, Tokyo to Rio – public spaces were filled with music, magic, comedy, physical theatre, living statues and dance. 22 million people tuned into International Busking Day activity on social media and artists including Seal, Jack Savoretti, Fatboy Slim, Billy Bragg, Corinne Bailey Rae, Hugh Cornwell and Stomp joined as ambassadors. 
  • About Gibson Brands: Gibson Brands, a global leader in musical instruments, consumer electronics and professional audio, is dedicated to improving the quality of life and music for its customers. Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Gibson Brands has manufacturing, marketing and research and development centers throughout the world and is the home to over 100 world-renowned brands including: Gibson, Epiphone, Kramer, Maestro, Baldwin, Hamilton, Chickering, Wurlitzer, KRK Systems, TASCAM, TEAC, Cerwin-Vega, Stanton, Neat Microphones, Cakewalk, Philips, Philips Fidelio and Onkyo. For more information, go to www.gibson.com.