December 24, 2016

Metro Jam (Public Music Jam) Barcelona, 24/06/2014

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I’m not a busker. I’m a musician and a singer. I play in pubs and in front of small/medium audiences, but I’ve always been scared of busking. Actually, the only time in my life I’d ever busked was in Paris, under the Eiffel Tower and it started raining half-way through the first song. Not much fun.

So you can imagine how I felt when Andy asked me to join him in this metro jam. I thought “playing music in a carriage full of people that only want to get home?!” Ok, it’s not busking, as you’re not asking for money, but it takes a lot of energy and drive to be able to pull it off in public.

I ‘took the challenge’ and thought, why not? I should do these things more often. It’s an experience, and Andy’s enthusiasm to spread smiles was contagious.

We met up at Ciutadella Park with friends Dan and Sarah to make some instruments out of cardboard boxes, plastic bottles decorated with orange strings, and various other strange things that might make a noise. Armed with a bagful of home-made instruments, a couple of harmonicas and my guitar, we walked to the metro and chose a line to get onto.

Wow. The first half hour was so much hard work. I found it difficult to get into a ‘jam’ mood, as, to be honest, I’m not much of a jamming person… People were looking at us with embarrassed/slightly avoiding glances. Despite the guys’ best efforts to get the people into it, I felt like we were a group of bad buskers. A couple of people joined in and played a little with us, but it was slow.

Getting off the wagon and going back the other way, we encountered a musician-looking fellow who agreed to play a couple of songs with us – I gladly lent him my guitar and grabbed some percussion (a plastic bottle). For me this was the trigger moment. He started singing some songs. Fun, sing-along songs. We were singing along. People were singing along. People were playing percussion instruments we were handing out. People were video-ing us on their phones. We were smiling and having fun. They were smiling and having fun. Even the ones not joining were enjoying it.

Finally we got it going! And it was so much fun! After many songs, our lovely new friend and musician Lucas had to get off (he’d already got much further down the line than he was supposed to!) and we kept it going for the next hour or so, changing direction on the line again, chatting to people on the platform, ‘forcing’ instruments into people’s hands and getting them to join, even convincing our lovely metro audience that we were just doing this for fun, not for money (they were offering us their change, which we kindly refused with a smile)…

We finally did get a little tired and decided to call it a night, smiles on our faces and safe in the knowledge that we’d brought smiles on other people’s faces too.

Going home I felt a buzz and I’m so glad I took part in this Metro Jam, and highly recommend any musician and non-musician to get involved in something like this. I even think I could go busking now, and wouldn’t even be scared!

By Adeline

Also published on Medium.

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