Portland street performers share love of music, courage to play in public

Posted Aug. 30, 2012, at 4:07 p.m.
Josie English plays accordian on Commercial Street while her traveling companion, Rosie, rests at her side Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. &quotI enjoy playing on the street because I get to meet a lot of cool people. But it gets really frustrating; people just really don’'t care, they'’re wrapped up [in their own world], even if I sound good they just see my whole appearance and they’'re like, 'you’'re probably one of those dirty, traveling people, I don’'t want to give you money because you'’re probably going to spend it on booze or drugs,'" she said.
Josie English plays accordian on Commercial Street while her traveling companion, Rosie, rests at her side Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. "I enjoy playing on the street because I get to meet a lot of cool people. But it gets really frustrating; people just really don’'t care, they'’re wrapped up [in their own world], even if I sound good they just see my whole appearance and they’'re like, 'you’'re probably one of those dirty, traveling people, I don’'t want to give you money because you'’re probably going to spend it on booze or drugs,'" she said. Buy Photo
Sam Hansen of the funk band Powerhouse Road, climbs a light post to plug in an unsuccessful search for electricity in Tommy's Park on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. A policeman later told bass player Conor McGrory (right) that the city recently turned off the power after complaints about a loud, techno-music performer.
Sam Hansen of the funk band Powerhouse Road, climbs a light post to plug in an unsuccessful search for electricity in Tommy's Park on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. A policeman later told bass player Conor McGrory (right) that the city recently turned off the power after complaints about a loud, techno-music performer.
Walter Grover heads up Exchange Street. &quotI don't go out trying to make money," he said. &quotI'm just trying to bring something to the people."
Walter Grover heads up Exchange Street. "I don't go out trying to make money," he said. "I'm just trying to bring something to the people." Buy Photo
A tip cup sits on the sidewalk in front of a street performer Sunday, August 26, 2012, in Portland. Every performer hopes to make a few bucks &quotbut once it becomes a job, it's just not as much fun," said one musician.
A tip cup sits on the sidewalk in front of a street performer Sunday, August 26, 2012, in Portland. Every performer hopes to make a few bucks "but once it becomes a job, it's just not as much fun," said one musician. Buy Photo
Cecilia Howard, 13, of South Portland receives a tip while fiddling on Exchange Street on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. The ninth-grader says the best tips come when a cruise ship is in town. The worst is during a Friday night Art Walk. &quotIt's too crowded," she said.
Cecilia Howard, 13, of South Portland receives a tip while fiddling on Exchange Street on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. The ninth-grader says the best tips come when a cruise ship is in town. The worst is during a Friday night Art Walk. "It's too crowded," she said. Buy Photo
A tattoo is displayed on self-taught accordian player Josie English on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. &quotI understand music theory. I played piano for eight years as a kid, and I played French horn. When I started traveling, a friend suggested we get some instrument. I'm not the best accordian player but I'm a pretty good street performer," she said.
A tattoo is displayed on self-taught accordian player Josie English on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. "I understand music theory. I played piano for eight years as a kid, and I played French horn. When I started traveling, a friend suggested we get some instrument. I'm not the best accordian player but I'm a pretty good street performer," she said. Buy Photo
Michael Olsen hopes a charitable person will donate a guitar to replace the one that ended up broken during a recent encounter with the police. &quotSomeone said they'd sell me one for $50. I told him if you just loan it to me I'll use it to make the $50, but he wouldn't do it."
Michael Olsen hopes a charitable person will donate a guitar to replace the one that ended up broken during a recent encounter with the police. "Someone said they'd sell me one for $50. I told him if you just loan it to me I'll use it to make the $50, but he wouldn't do it."
Mark Cruz, 53, performs his blues/rock music near the Casco Bay Ferry terminal Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. Cruz is a former radio shock jock who has worked at stations across the country. He says he settled in Portland because it's an uncrowded city, even though he has been mugged here six times.
Mark Cruz, 53, performs his blues/rock music near the Casco Bay Ferry terminal Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. Cruz is a former radio shock jock who has worked at stations across the country. He says he settled in Portland because it's an uncrowded city, even though he has been mugged here six times. Buy Photo
Walter Grover, who perfoms under the name Moneybags, plays guitar Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. Grover, who has been performing on Exchange Street for more than 10 years, has written about 150 songs. &quotI try to base it on the Bob Dylan theory; I want you to hear a story whether you like it or not," he said.
Walter Grover, who perfoms under the name Moneybags, plays guitar Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, in Portland. Grover, who has been performing on Exchange Street for more than 10 years, has written about 150 songs. "I try to base it on the Bob Dylan theory; I want you to hear a story whether you like it or not," he said. Buy Photo

PORTLAND, Maine — They come from all walks of life.

There’s a group of college kids from Falmouth setting up in Post Office Park to play electric-funk music one last time before heading off to college.

There’s a ninth-grader from South Portland practicing her fiddle on Exchange Street.

And there’s an accordion player on the waterfront hoping to earn enough in tips to bail a friend out of jail.

Whether they still live at home with their parents or are just passing through town, street musicians share a love of music and the guts to play in public.

Last Sunday photographer Robert Bukaty visited Portland’s Old Port to see who was performing.

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