The Big Busk

Want to be a part?


June 2013
We'll be taking this year off. Sorry, friends.

But don't let that stop you from getting out there and playing! If you plan on busking this July 20th, send us a note and we'll make a schedule.

Otherwise, we'll see you again next year. Have a great summer!

All The Apparatus
AnnaPaul and The Bearded Lady
Brian McGinty
Half Way There
The Non


To busk is to play music or otherwise entertain people in a public place for tips.

Many musicians get their start by busking, and some famous musicians take to the streets just for fun. When he was young, Beck busked his way around Europe and L.A. Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders asked The Violent Femmes to open for them after seeing them busking in Milwaukee. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Simon and Garfunkel, Louis Armstrong, B. B. King, Norah Jones, Billie Holiday, Bon Jovi, Sting and Lou Reed have all played their music on downtown streets. In 2007, Joshua Bell played in the subway of Washington, D.C.

Buskers are a big part of what makes urban areas so fun. They invite us out of our iPods. They help make downtown beautiful.

In short, it's a respectable way to live one's art.

No permits are needed to busk in Portland. You should have no trouble from business owners or the police as long as you abide by the Street Musician Partnership Agreement and the sidewalk obstruction laws.


The Big Busk is a new music festival for downtown Portland.

These are the ingredients:

The idea is, for an entire afternoon, to saturate downtown with music. All kinds of music. Up and down Broadway, the transit mall, the park blocks to the esplanade.

There is no stage, but every corner is a stage. There is no audience, but everyone is the audience. There is no admission fee, but we trust attendees tip generously.

So it's kind of an experiment. It's also kind of an art project and a tongue-in-cheek celebration of creative defiance. Good music for tough times.

If you'd like to be a part, please send us an email.


Portland Mercury's End Hits blog
PDX Pipeline

The Oregonian
Portland Mercury's End Hits blog
PDX Pipeline
Dave Knows Portland

Robert Wagner and his team at what has become were so supportive. Pitch Perfect, Jennifer Coughlin's story for Neighborhood Notes, considers busking in general and The Big Busk in specific. We were also mentioned on End Hits at The Mercury, Dave Knows Portland, and PDX Pipeline.

Background image from oed on Flickr.