The halls at TransLink’s head offices in New Westminster were alive Wednesday with the sounds of 32 musicians competing for seven busker licences available to perform at six stations in Vancouver.
The busker program was started during Expo 86, and of 43 licences that were issued for 2014, 37 were renewed for next year.
The auditions consisted of three-minute performances in front of a panel of three judges.
Jacey Gibb, of Discorder, an independent music magazine, said they weren’t just looking for musical talent, but also distinct qualities that would make the performers stand out and capture the attention and ears of hurried commuters.
“They all stand out in their own ways,” said Gibb.
Mark Foster, a singer-songwriter hoping to grab one of the coveted licences, said playing his guitar and harmonica in a busy transit station would be a marked departure from his regular day job as an insurance underwriter. A veteran of the busking scene in Calgary, he said it’s also a chance to further hone his musical chops.
Paula Spurr and Michael Bellwood said said playing their bluegrass music for commuters is a good way to stay musically fresh for regular gigs with their Vancouver band, Honky Tonk Dilettantes.
“You can practice in your living room all you want, but nothing beats playing in front of an audience,” said Spurr.
Successful candidates will be notified on Friday.