I have busked once. It was a disaster of epic proportions. We had a rehearsal room just off Buchanan Street in Glasgow underneath the street level in an old print room. One day, when I really should have known better, I said to the rest of the band, ‘Why don’t we go out and busk some of our songs?’ There were ten good reasons why this was not a good idea. I refused to hear any of them. The other nine reasons were never needed really……the reason it was such a bad idea is that we really pretty awful at the busking lark. It’s a learned trade.

I was working with a young artist recently who told me he was about to give up his regular job so he could concentrate on his music. His plan was support himself through busking. He could, he’d noticed, earn quite a good income at this. I think that was because he was rather a good singer and sang the songs people wanted to know. If I’d listened to my wife that fateful afternoon I’d have known better. She pointed out that repertoire was of some important in all of this……mine was limited and obscure.

One day we emerged from our basement to see Lorraine in Buchanan Street busking with another band. The irony was they were doing one of my songs…but the secret was they delivered it with a punch. I guess there are some lessons you just learn the hard way.


I was thinking about this as this week’s AC majors in on the ultimate busking band, Old Crow Medicine Show. They were ‘discovered’ by Doc Watson while they busked outside a pharmacy in Boone, Norton Carolina. The rest, as they say, is history.

We’ll play the OCMS themselves as well as some of their offshoot projects – Gill Landry, Willie Watson – a version of their most famous song and something wonderful from the man who witnessed that busking gig back in 1998, Doc Watson.

We’ll thbe introducing you to some new names including this man  ….Rayland Baxter,


Margo and The Pricetags and Daniel Romano as well as show some considerable excitement about the new, excellent record from Jason Isbell. Enough already? Gather round your wireless and chuck a few metaphorical coins into our cap from five past nine on Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland.


On Sunday……..

I’ll be talking about to playwright Jo Clifford, hearing more Ramadan Diaries and talking to some wise guests about what happens when organisations and businesses lose direction.  How do they keep, lose or steer an ethical path for themselves, their coworkers and the people they seek to serve? As ever music …this week look out for Sly Stone, Sigur Ros, C Duncan and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.