Cindy Jensen, Buskers by the Creek
I would love to see busking permitted on every street corner, on every tram stop, in front of every building ...
Cindy Jensen did what most of us would struggle to do – she left a stable full-time job to put on a free community music event, with no idea what the future would hold. That was five years ago, and that music event we speak of is Buskers by the Creek, which is now the country’s largest busking festival. From October 13-14, Currumbin’s creekside see come to life with more than 300 local and international buskers showcasing their talents to a crowd of 20,000 – which is of the event’s biggest line-ups to date. With the festival just weeks away, we caught up with Cindy to look back on where it all began and the future of music on the Gold Coast.
It’s been five years since the first Buskers by the Creek! We believe you left a full-time job to put on (what was then) a small community event. Tell us a little about how Buskers by the Creek first came together?
After producing a talent show, “Desal’s Got Talent” whilst employed on the Victorian Desalination Project, I became witness to incredible talent who were hiding behind hard hats and steel cap boots. From the roofer turned musician, to the welder turned pan pipe player, it made me passionate about finding a way to continue to shine the light on the undiscovered. On completion of the project and moving home to Currumbin, I realised our spectacular waterway was the perfect backdrop and Winders Park, the perfect stage. I pounded the pavement in search of local businesses to help bring my vision to life and after twelve months of planning and thousands of hours spent stalking talent facebook pages, my dream became reality.
What initially sparked the idea for the Buskers by the Creek concept? When was that light-bulb moment?
A trip to Thailand walking through a maze of colour and flavour in an outdoor bazaar inspired my new creative venture. Four blind guys sitting back to back busking on their ukuleles was the magic moment – talent like I’d never witnessed, incredible and inspiring! The plane trip home saw me pencil a plan on the back of a cereal box and the rest is history.
The event has now grown to be recognised as the largest busking festival in Australia. Did you anticipate that this ‘community event’ would come this far
I had never looked beyond the first year in the early planning stages, at least not until the festival took out the ‘Best New Event in Queensland’ title after the inaugural event. The anticipation and demand for a follow-up event was delivered thick and fast through my inbox from my local community and from that point on there was no looking back. It’s now mind-blowing when I receive application interest from all areas of the globe and have the likes of Adam Brand and Juzzie Smith sign on. It’s made me even more determined to ensure the festival is well and truly cemented, sustainable and here to stay!
What are some of the most exciting elements of this year’s Buskers by the Creek program?
With a new theme each year, 2018 will see a Brazilian inspired Carnivale with everything from samba struts to Afro-Brazilian drum rhythms, from award winning musicians and talented teens, to clowning and acrobatics. It wouldn’t be Buskers by the Creek without water activity and this year our floating Bar Copacabana is an added entertainment highlight. There’s a few other secrets I’m keeping under wraps, but get ready for one hell of a party with sequins, samba and sundown spritz showdowns!
What new names or emerging artists do you think we should be watching out for this year?
Our Battle of the Buskers which officially kicks off the festival on the evening of Friday October 12, sees ten of our festival’s top emerging talent face it off in the ultimate showdown of busking brilliance. With over 300 talents signed, it’s impossible to shine the light on a select few but Victorian one man band, Matt Katsis and Gold Coast loop artist, Tones and I are two who gave me goosebumps on pressing play. The specialty performers, The Flying Dutchmen all the way from Europe are also a must see!
What do you think the future holds for live music on the Gold Coast?
I would love to see busking permitted on every street corner, on every tram stop, in front of every building. Without the permits, without the paperwork. Entertainment on the streets brings vibrancy, creates magic and leaves an everlasting impression. I often hear people say there’s no opportunities for musicians on the Gold Coast, which blows my mind! Over the last four years alone I’ve engaged over 600 musicians to perform in paid venue or event opportunities and enquiries continue to come through thick and fast.
Let’s get deep. What inspires you?
Travel inspires me. I’m a gypsy at heart and travelling not only provides an escape, it dares me to dream. To experience the people, places and cuisine, to create memories and experiences that I can continue to draw from in both my professional and personal life.
Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I read loads of start-up success stories and follow gurus such as Richard Branson for business advice. The one valuable lesson learnt to date is to always work with and employ people who I can learn from, with a greater skill level. To learn, if only one thing, each and every day.
You can check out Buskers by the Creek in Currumbin from October 13-14.