The Mayor of London Boris Johnson recently joined London band The King's Parade, rising pop star and committed busker Luke Friend and other musicians to officially launch this year's Gigs busking competition and #BackBusking, a new campaign to support street musicians. Boris Johnson kindly agreed to answer some of Gibson.com’s questions.
Who do YOU prefer, Boris: The Beatles or the Stones? (And you can't say BOTH!)
Both great bands, hugely influential and brought a new dimension to 'Made in Britain'. That said, it is well known that I am a big fan of Mick and Keith's gang and it was fantastic seeing them again last year in Hyde Park.
How have you made live music in London better?
I want to ensure that London maintains its reputation as the home of live music. As well as increasing the opportunities for young musicians to play live through my Gigs busking competition (www.GigsBigBusk.com), we have launched our #BackBusking campaign.
I want to work with boroughs, businesses and landowners to develop a coherent pan-London approach to busking in the capital, cutting through red-tape and enabling more talented musicians to be able to bring sweet music to high streets, town centers and other public spaces across the city.
London has around 350 live music venues and my culture team continues to monitor the impact that licensing can have, as well as intervening on issues such as evening parking charges, which can put some people off.
What was the first gig you went to?
Sister Sledge at the Oxford Apollo 1984.
Who's your favorite guitar player?
Street entertainers are a massive part of London culture: explain how busking fits into this in your view.
The London 2012 Games showed there is great public enthusiasm for street performance, whether it is musical, theatrical, or getting people taking part as we did with Big Dance.
This was the year we brought real life circus to Piccadilly Circus and took our Gigs buskers to play at high profile sites around the capital, something that we are continuing to build on. Last year Gigs had 1,800 applications, up 300 per cent on 2012. We presented 1,100 hours of live music to 1.5million people, making it the capital's biggest free music festival and the largest youth music competition in the UK.
What's the best London area/environment for buskers, in your view? I've heard some amazing musicians at Tube stations, but most commuters are in too much of a rush to listen! Discuss.
With locations that are recognized around the world, London offers an unbeatable backdrop to itinerant musicians. Pitches outside famous places like St Paul's Cathedral have shown the potential of some of our landmarks and people will be able to enjoy our Gigs buskers there, on the Tube, railway stations and at other key locations this summer.
Young London-based musicians wanting to take part in the competition have until 2 June to apply at www.GigsBigBusk.com.