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Busker's run-in with businesses

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: June 28, 2012

  • Andrew Oliver aka Doc Mustard

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LOVE them or loathe them, buskers are a familiar feature on our streets, plying their musical trade for the chance of a few coins thrown into a cap from a pleased passer-by.

But one self-employed local musician said he felt barred from doing what he enjoys after a run-in with businesses on Causewayhead.

Andrew Oliver, who performs under the stage name Doc Mustard, said he has not been back to the street since being told he couldn't play his full set of songs.

"In times of austerity when a retail community should be grateful for every free attraction available to comfort shoppers and make them happy it's a sad state of affairs when a busker is made to feel like a criminal for singing a multitude of songs evoking joy in the hearts of the majority of passers-by," he said.

"It is not inspirational for me to do a performance with that kind of vibe."

One Saturday this month, the 58-year-old arrived at the bottom of Causewayhead with a two-hour-long set of songs ready to be performed.

But shortly after he began, Mr Oliver said he was told by staff at Pengelly's Shoes that he could only perform outside for one hour.

The street musician said he did get support from other traders and passers-by before he was once again told to stop playing and leave by a local resident.

After continuing to serenade the crowds for a short while longer, Mr Oliver left the pitch and hasn't returned since.

"I feel like I have been given the elbow," he said.

"I can't see a problem with me performing for two hours on a Friday and Saturday morning.

"If you see me on Causewayhead and see all of the smiles I produce you would realise that they are being intolerant."

Mr Oliver is normally a familiar face outside the Savoy Cinema but decided to change pitches and perform outside Pengelly's because it is seen as a prime musical spot.

"We want buskers here but there is a code between them to only play for one hour and his repertoire is two," said Pauline Nicholls, shop assistant at the shoe store. "I didn't tell him to move but said he should be there for an hour like the rest. During this discussion I wasn't the only person saying this, there was another trader and a local resident.

"We get good and terrible buskers but we put up with them all for an hour."

The musician, who also performs in day care centres and nursing homes, has featured in The Cornishman a number of times over the years, including when he accused the Savoy Cinema of deliberately turning up the TV in the foyer to drown him out.


Listen to a track by Mr Oliver below:

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  • josdave  |  June 29 2012, 2:10PM

    What a bunch of spoilsports and I note only one resident complained.Whatever happened to the views of the majority do they not matter any more?

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  • wills2006  |  June 29 2012, 8:16AM

    he is a pleasure compared to the whistler who goes on for hours and hours,and when in work i cant hear the customers in shop or on phone

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  • madvoldo  |  June 29 2012, 7:25AM

    It would appear that Doc Mustard has given a very one sided and incredibly prejudiced view with his regard to his so called ill treatment regarding his busking activities.. He is one of many buskers whose idea of music is very different from those that must listen to this din for that is what it becomes for the unfortunately placed shop owners and residents forced to listen to the same routine on a daily basis.. Doc Mustard aside, we have a couple of buskers who in their minds play a penny whistle but to the residents this hideous and constant noise starts to become an assault uopon the senses no different from and eyesore upon the vision or a very bad smell upon the nose, both of which would be removed immediately. In contrast to Doc Mustards claim that he was moved on after several sessions of the same noise at the volume he was approached by myself,The resident and politely asked if he wouldn't mind having a heart and perhaps thinking about the residents and others that must endure this so called music to which I was asked if I could leave my home for a couple of hours and surely I must have had some work I could be doing both of which I found completely unreasonable and rather offensive being I was trying to construct CV's in my home having been laid off. At this point I was then approached by a man and a woman whom basically not only told me I should move back to where I came from but also began telling anyone that would listen how horrid I had been to the Mr. Mustard.. It was clear that the animosity was with Mr. Mustards supporters who didn't actually know him at all but were simply spoiling for a fight as is Mr. Mustard with this ridiculous run to the papers attitude and photograph of blue tape over his mouth. I truly wish Mr. Mustard all the best, I do not think he has done the busking community any favous with his attitude and actions nor after this do I believe he'll feel comfortable to play outside Pengelly due to the way he has now branded the ,in my opinion, very lovely and reasonable Paula Nicholls. In essence he has shot himself in the foot by making an even louder racket than he does with hig guitar!!

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  • pennyere12  |  June 28 2012, 11:43PM

    when i walk down causeway with my children their (already happy) spirits are lifted even more when we happen upon a busker, to which they generally have a little jig and party with. life should be full of joy and wonder and love and happiness and majic, shouldn't it? and if it's ok for children to feel like this, shouldn't 'grown-ups' too? a busker is anonymous to the passer-by, and vice-versa, but in that moment of passing a thousand different feelings could surface because of a song heard or a tune whistled. it's light-hearted, it's saying 'don't worry be happy', no harm at all. i have purchased several cd's from buskers (my son has quite a collection) and i'm proud to support local musicians along with localism principles in general. that said, i can understand how some residents may get irritated with it day in day out, as others would relish in the variety of free local daily music. and yes some buskers have a rather melancholic drone which may get boring for some shop keepers. but Doc is far from a drone, he is a rainbow of joy and that's where his heart is at, he just wants to spread a happy vibe. it's not all about money-and would his presence outside the shoe shop actually stop people from buying shoes????? think someone was just having a bad shoe day?! i don't think slamming a regulatory busking textbook down on the table should happen, we are living in a free country/world are we not?, but perhaps the notion of a one or two hour slot should be looked at further? we all have to tolerate and support each other and should not be knowingly aggravating people or causing discomfort. (from shop keepers to residents to buskers to passers by) so perhaps a forum for discussion should be opened up and voted on? anyway Doc we've missed you and your rainbows, it's a gloomy summer without you.

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  • Phil_lip  |  June 28 2012, 3:15PM

    Personally I think busking is a great way for up and coming artists to get out there and get music known, it is also a way of the dreary same old shopping centres of our cities and towns that all look the same to be brightened up. Our councils and traders should be doing more to promote these guys (the good ones) so people can have a small bit of enjoyment when jostling with the hundreds (some places thousands) of other people who think they are important in getting to the shops and ignoring every other person they walk by as if they weren't there. Good on you Doc for trying to put a smile on people's faces and next time you do a 2 hour set go round to the traders and charge them the going rate for entertaining their customers (only the ones who treat you like this though), see if they change their tune ;)

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  • Hobozine  |  June 28 2012, 2:26PM

    I think the people of Cornwall are very lucky to have legendary Doc Mustard playing freely in their midst. Clearly they don't know what they have! In Coventry, he is indeed a legend having played in so many bands in the 70's and 80's and during the Coventry Two Tone period. For example, our eccentric, but warm-humoured and socially concerned Mr Mustard, played bass and wrote for a Coventry ska band called Machine (later known as Hot Snacks) who had a track on the Red cherry label album Sent From Coventry (Character Change) (find it on Youtube) and went on to support both Selecter and The Specials on tour and later Bad Manners (on an 18 gig national tour).Indeed their original drummer was Silverton (who was the original Specials drummer until replaced by John (Brad) Bradbury). Mr Mustard went on to form the Coventry reggae band The Ring (also on Youtube) before eventually moving to Cornwall. His snappy funk style bass and keyboard playing was widely sought after by Coventry bands and his status on the music scene is upheld Coventry music historian, author, director of Two Tone Central museum and journalist for the Coventry Telegraph - Pete Chambers. His talent spans many instruments, musical styles and he also writes his own songs. Mr Mustard, as an entertainer, has always blended talent with a good sense of humour, social concern, an eccentric dress-code and a huge rapport with his audience. Coventry's loss is Cornwall's gain in my opinion! Trev Teasdel - former editor of Hobo - Coventry Music and Arts Magazine.

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  • The Rhythm Balladeer  |  June 28 2012, 11:10AM

    Two things, I would get to a busking pitch in Penzance at 10am on a Friday and Saturday weather permitting to make sure I was there before anyone else, my mission being to create happy shoppers and freely put smiles on people's faces. Secondly there were other traders mentioned in the above article from the shop close behind me who were actually giving me full moral and artistic support along with other visitors who gathered around at the time of this sad event. I do however find it unfortunate that a resident who chooses to live in the centre of Penzance on a vibrant shopping street somehow expects peace and quiet on the two busiest days of the week. Tolerance and understanding clearly aren't watchwords in the vocabulary of these bullies. I now feel I have a good relationship with the cinema and have patched things up though at this time of year by the time I've played for an hour outside the cinema I'd notice that there would be someone else down at the pitch in question within earshot of my performance which is why I decided to move down there and it was working out very well until Partypoopers.Inc stuck the boot in and shooed me off in anger.

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