My man is the new Busker in Lagos. “Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez all used this venue early on in their careers.”(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_performance). Kevin 12 String; (AKA The Citizen) plays and sings for happy holiday-makers as they enjoy their cocktails and meals in fancy sidewalk restaurants.
He has on his playlist an eclectic mix of tunes, no Hotel California for this busker (which is surprisingly the most covered song in Portugal). The Pogues, Pink Floyd, Portuguese 70’s era Zeca Afonso (best songwriter you have never heard of) and many, many more surprising pieces Kev can even pull the Goldfinger theme out of his pocket. I see big smiles when a special song is recognized by a couple sitting at a table, later, they often come up and share how important that song is to them, it is sweeter than the Euros dropped in the guitar case…almost.
The city of Lagos licenses the street performers. Once a year they need to fill in the application and include a photo and a local address. Each Friday at 3pm they need to renew it at the câmara (city hall) in order to play the following week. Kevin 12 String does this religiously to ensure he can defend his favorite spots. Things can get ugly at the height of the season with performers massing into the city for quick cash, as long as his license is valid, he has his right to play. I give credit to Lagos for trying to control what could become a discordant musical free for all.
The buskers help create in Lagos a carnival atmosphere; they are advertised as part of the “Visit Lagos marketing campaign”. We have the sparkling sea, an old fashioned carousel with sunburned children riding the in circles, waving as they pass their families. Bubble blowers, accordion players, violinists, a terrific four piece hippie rock combo dominates the main square. Vendors sell ice cream, scarves, artwork, beaded jewelry from tables or blankets on the ground. People from all ends of Europe and the UK are here enjoying it all.
Next time you are in Lagos, settle back for a cool one and a great concert. You could get very lucky and Kevin 12 String may be playing at the restaurant’s sidewalk terrace.