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  • Dan Duguay

Violent Femmes

I'm off to see the Violent Femmes tonight in Calgary. I used to busk their most famous song "Blister in the Sun" a lot in the early days of my career. Such a catchy little number...


Interestingly, it was busking that helped pave the way for the Violent Femmes. They had a chance encounter with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders one day in Milwaukee and she invited them to open for them that night. It was a fortuitous event that changed their trajectory.


From their Wikipedia page:


American band The Violent Femmes Started out busking
The Violent Femmes busking

"when the band was busking on a street corner in front of the Oriental Theatre, the Milwaukee venue that The Pretenders would be playing later that night. Chrissie Hynde invited them to play a brief acoustic set after the opening act."


Imagine that, from playing on the street in the afternoon to opening for the Pretenders in the evening. That's a day you won't forget.


  • Busking can be a great way to get exposure AND earn money while you're doing it.

  • Busking is a great artist development tool. It teaches you how to connect with an audience.

  • It's an excellent barometer for what an audience wants to hear.

  • it allows you to take chances as an artist.

  • It eliminates the "Gate Keepers" who get to say yay or nay to your art.

  • Busking was DEI before anyone ever thought about the concept of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

  • Busking was a crowd-sourced art form before anyone ever thought about the word "crowd sourcing".


I hear that tonight's show is sold out at MacEwan Hall. And so, 40+ years later, after these three young men started playing for tips on the street, people still want to see them and they're willing to pay $70 to see them! Maybe if they hadn't been out street performing, this wouldn't be happening.


Thank you to busking for helping the Violent Femmes find their audience. And Thanks to the Calgary Folk Festival and Tooth Blackner Presents for bringing them to a Calgary audience!



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