Busker What’s Your Story? Eugene Kurolap

Eugene Kurolap

“Sometimes music can seep into the soul. I’ve had people start crying after listening to a song. Busking in Australia, I finished ‘Goodbye my Lover’ by James Blunt and a guy came up to me and told me his wife died in his arms while they were listening to that song.”

Eugene Kurolap

After the collapse of communist Russia, Eugene Kurolap’s musical parents took he and his brother to Israel, and later on to Canada where he would spend the next 17 years.

In 2013, Eugene left Canada in a bid to see the world. After working a few different jobs Eugene met a young female busker in Tel Aviv in 2015, after this encounter he realised he could make more money doing what he loves than he was making in a routine sales job with a boss.

So Eugene decided he would travel the world supporting himself as a busker and singer/songwriter. You can find his original music in the links below.

In the video above you’ll see the moment when Eugene busked in Brooklyn outside the concert of his idol, coaxing UK singer/songwriter Mike Rosenberg (Passenger) out after his show to sing some tunes with him.

We’re thrilled Eugene accepted our invitation to Busker What’s Your Story? so we could find out a little more about this happy indie/folk musician.

What drew you to music and to busking?

“I met a girl who made more money busking that I did at my sales job and I’d rather sing than harass people.”

What are some really great moments you have had while busking?

“Sometimes music can seep into the soul. I’ve had people start crying after listening to a song. For example in Australia after I finished singing ‘Goodbye My Lover’ by James Blunt, a guy came up to me and said that his wife died in his arms while they were listening to this song.

Another memorable experience was in Morocco. This 20 something year old woman couldn’t hide her excitement; she heard me the year before that singing in Australia! The reason I was in Morocco was because a woman who heard me sing there, invited me to sing at her wedding in Paris and then they had a second wedding in Morocco since they are both French Moroccan.”

If you could choose a lyric from any song that is particularly special to you, what would that lyric be?

You got the kind of look in your eyes, as if noone knows anything but us

“It’s from Tenerife Sea by Ed Sheeran.”

If you could change something you see on the streets, what would it be?

“Take the homeless off the streets, rehab them, give them purpose, teach responsibility etc…

Maybe one day I’ll have a hand in being part of the solution.”

Where can people see you busk/perform?

“Currently I’m in the States. I’ll be in Tel Aviv in May/June.”

Eugene’s YouTube Channel


Busker What’s Your Story? Johno Johnson

Blues icon Johno Johnson

“I’m a lot older than people think. 73 I am. I’m not young!

When you get old, some people play golf. I play the guitar, that’s the difference.”

Ian ‘Johno’ Johnson

When you talk of buskers, they don’t come more iconic than Cairns’ blues man ‘Johno’ Johnson.

Johno (that’s not my real name) Johnson is a founding member of Johno’s Blues Band. The band played venues all over the world and opened the famous Johno’s Blues Bar in Cairns.

The bar was originally in Sheridan Street before it moved for 8 years above McDonalds on the ‘nard.

The venue hosted the prime of local talent, along with a plethora of national and international acts.
Many American blues bands of the day came to play at Johno’s.

Guitarist Tommy Emmanuel opened Johno’s Blues Bar in 1989 and his brother Phil was the guest of honour in December 2007 at its final swansong. Tony Hillier of EntertainmentCairns.com quotes Phil Emmanuel as saying: “It’s a very sad loss – Johno’s was the frontier of live music in the Far North and a very important component of the interstate and international music scene.”

If you’re lucky enough to visit Cairns, you’ll find Johno busking on the Esplanade. Be sure to toss a coin in his case. We’re glad he’s back entertaining the tourists after an accident earlier this year saw the 73 year old knocked off his pushy by a car door.

Busker What’s Your Story? You can listen to Johno tell more of his story in his own unique style above. The video is courtesy of videographer Adam Simpson and writer William Macdonald who caught up with the cheeky old music man in August.




Busker What’s Your Story? Recovered


“We met on a dating App. We arranged to meet for coffee, but after a few minutes it turned out we had absolutely nothing in common relationship wise, but we discovered we both loved music. So, we ditched the coffee and went to a park for a 2 hour jam session instead.”

Bryce Tinley

Bryce Tinley and Sarah Farrington formed the Albury music duo ‘Recovered’ only around 3 months ago. As well as busking in Albury and about the district they have performed at local venues including the Retro Lane Café, St Ives Hotel and a community youth event called Street Jam.

We caught them busking at the Rotary Community Markets in Kiewa Street, Albury.

What are some memorable moments that you’ve encountered while busking?

Sarah – ” One day we were busking in Dean Street and a lady heard us from the window of her car, she had to drive around the block a couple of times to find a park so she could come and listen to us play. That was nice.”

Bryce – “The crazy people! So many crazies come and talk to you on the streets. This one guy had just got off a murder charge in court and he came up to me and gave me his lucky charm. It was a rusty old celtic cross. Then, after explaining what all the tattoos on his knuckles were about he left; I think he had to go back into court.”

“There was another guy who thought it was awesome when someone dropped $10 in our case. Then he asked me if he could have it and got a bit aggressive when I turned him down.”

If you could choose a lyric that’s special to you, what would it be?

Sarah – “Come down my life force – it’s a lyric from our original song. To me it means waiting to find your place, and meaning, in life.”

Bryce – “Blue like the colour of your eyes. Blues, let them pass you by – it’s also from Life Force. It seems I always have images of blue eyes occurring in my life. It’s also what I notice when people are photographed at traumatic events and that sort of thing.”

Where did you learn to play the guitar?

Bryce – “I’m self taught. All you need is YouTube these days to teach yourself to play. I was lucky too because I had some great guitar playing mates who taught me stuff when we jammed. I write a lot of instrumental guitar pieces and Sarah and I have just started songwriting together.”

What’s next for ‘Recovered’?

“We’re excited to be playing at By the Banks music festival at Willowbank in Albury on 30 November and then at The Malt Shed in Wangaratta on 7 December.”


Busker What’s Your Story? June Caravel

Image Courtesy of June Caravel

June Caravel

“To make people laugh in Australia, I was busking with this sign that said: Help me get back home (with a French flag) or marry me! Coins, notes and love letters accepted.”

June Caravel

In 2012 June Caravel, a French singer, came up with a challenge to busk her way around Australia, a country she did not know, with only busking earnings to pay the way for herself and her videographer.

Thanks to the generosity of many Australians she was successful and she has placed a series of videos on YouTube documenting her experiences.

We thought it would be fun to invite June to our blog to tell us some more about her great Aussie busking adventure.

What are some memorable moments that you have encounered while busking?

“There are so many!| To make people laugh, I was busking with this sign that said: Help me get back home (with a French flag) or marry me! Coins, notes and love letters accepted. I even had blokes asking me if I could cook and mow the lawns as well? (Very important if you’re going to marry a girl in Australia apparently).”

“I kind of felt bad one day though when I was busking in Sydney, this homeless guy on the pier wrote me a very genuine and nice love letter, I kind of think he took my sign seriously! You will see it in the Sydney episode of my YouTube series.”

“There was another guy in Perth who also sent me a very long letter on my Facebook page, he had given me some coin and taken a photo with my sign. But really, the sign mostly just made people laugh, and some gave me more money, so I kept it the whole trip and then I framed it when I got back home to Paris, it’s hanging in my living room.”

If you could choose a lyric from any song, what would that lyric be, and why is it special to you?

Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing but different than the day before – it’s from a song called Raspberry Beret by Prince. I love the whole song, but chose this line because I think it represents what many feel about buskers, unfortunately. But we bring joy, fun and our viewpoint to the world. And we work damn hard to make a living out of our music/art. So I hope this changes the vision that people have of us.”

If you could change something you’ve seen on the streets, what would it be?

“People keep pitches for one another, which means if you’re not in the mafia you can’t get in. That sucks if you’re not an insider, and I think everyone should get a chance.”

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Before going to Australia, I had a talk with a guy who had been busking there. He told me the best way to busk was to go at the corner of a street with a lot of pedestrian traffic. While people wait for the traffic light to turn green, they have more time to pay attention to what you do, reach out for money in their pockets and give it to you. And he was totally right. So I thank you Cengiz for that advice which saved my life in Australia.”

What did you like best about busking around Australia? 

“The generosity of people. It was stunning. When I bet that I would survive only off people’s donations while busking in Australia, I honestly had no idea if I really could.

Not only did I find hosts on couchsurfing that let me and my cameragirl sleep on their couches in each city, but people were so generous.

Once I was busking at the end of the pier in Sydney with few very few tourists, it wasn’t really a good morning. I was about to wrap it up and go somewhere else, but I decided on one last song: The final countdown.

It so happened to be the favourite song of a guy passing by. He gave me 50 quid at the end of the song. I had made his day. And he certainly made mine! We had a very decent meal after that for a change.”



Busker What’s Your Story? Banana Trip Band, Lisbon

Banana Trip Band

“If someone thinks that peace and love are just a cliche that must have been left behind in the 60s, that’s a problem. Peace and love are eternal.”

John Lennon

The Banana Trip Band are the epitome of cool.

We caught them busking in June at Belem, just outside of Lisbon.

Busker What’s Your Story?

We think it’s got a lot to do with incredible music, amazing energy and fabulous hair!

Check them out here on Instagram.

Banana Trip Band Instagram

Busker What’s Your Story?


Welcome to my Blog – Busker What’s Your Story?

The idea for this project came about after a recent trip to Spain & Portugal. Though I didn’t interview the buskers there, the short grabs of their performance attracted great social engagement and I’ve included them in this blog.

As a writer and a music lover, writing the stories of ordinary folk is my jam. I thought, why not interview these talented everday folk and share a little piece of their story?

So here you’ll find just a slice of the lives of as many authentic, amazing, quirky, weird and wonderful musicians and street performers as I can discover.

I hope you’ll come along on this journey and share their stories and their talent with your social networks.

As we stumble upon them perched on street corners, hidden in subway tunnels, popping up in city riverside precincts or tucked under tents in country markets – let’s find out – Busker What’s Your Story?

Busker What’s Your Story? – Simon Paparo

Simon Paparo

Embrace everyone you come across. Show them love and tenderness,
and see if it comes back to you.”

My Dad died in March – I asked him when he was dying what he had learned from life – that was his answer.
Simon Paparo

Simon grew up in Perth and has been writing songs since the age of 15. His family moved to Sydney and then to Melbourne where he has continued his music career. You’ll find Simon busking regularly in Bourke Street Mall and gigging around Melbourne.

What’s something memorable that’s happened to you while busking?

“One day a guy listened for a while and then wrote a note and threw it in my guitar case. I didn’t look at it until I was packing up my stuff. I opened it and it said: ‘You gave me hope today.’ That was pretty special. I guess that’s why we do what we do.”

What’s a lyric you really love from any song?

“You’re gonna drown tomorrow, if you cry too many tears for yesterday.”
“It’s from a song called ‘Only Him or Me’ by Townes Van Zandt. I like that line.”

Who are your musical influences?

“Vance Joy, Bon Iver and Ed Sheeran. Also pretty much all of the folk artists from the 60s and 70s because I grew up listening to all of that music with my Dad.”

Apart from earning some coin, why do you busk?

“It’s a good way to pick up private gigs. I get party bookings, wedding bookings, that sort of gig from enquiries while busking.”

“But mostly it’s about human connection. One day before I started my set in Bourke Street Craig this homeless guy was in a really bad way. I thought he was dead. I rushed over to him and saw he was breathing. I got him some water and something to eat, got him an ambulance. We connected as human beings and now we have a chat, you know, we have a connection.”


Busker What’s Your Story? – Alejandro Aguanta

Alejandro Aguanta

“Sometimes creative types can have big egos. For me it’s about engaging with people. I like busking more than performing on a big stage, because here we’re approachable. People come up and talk to us.”

Alejandro Aguanta

An Australian born classical guitarist, Alejandro’s South American heritage saw him spend 10 years of his childhood in Bolivia. He would listen to his Dad sing and strum an accoustic guitar.

Later Alejandro taught himself the art of classical guitar. His skill and proficiency in fingerpicking through classic instrumental tunes is just part of his armour – the rest is sparked from his soul.

You’ll find Alejandro busking around Melbourne or catch him performing at a busking competition around Country NSW or Victoria. He also performs at weddings and private events.

Apart from earning some coin, why do you busk?

“It’s all about that engagement with people. And if I’m busking at a market or outdoor festival I like to use my music to provide a great atmosphere, that helps the stall holders to sell more merchandise. The creative arts are a tough gig, it’s good to help each other out.”

What’s a good piece of advice you’ve been given?

“If you have an itch or a curiosity – something you want to do – just do it. Don’t wait, because by the time you think you’re ready, the opportunity may have passed you by.”

If you could choose a favourite song or lyric, what might it be?

“There’s one by Bjork called ‘Hyperballad.’ From my perspective, that song speaks to me a lot about solitude. As musicians we spend a lot of time by ourselves, in a studio or in our room, we often don’t have a lot of human interaction.”

Who are your musical inspiratons?

“Surprisingly they’re not classical. I’m into a real mixed bag of genres, I love heavy metal and rock, even a bit of electronic.”


Busker What’s Your Story? Toledo, 2019

Don Quixote Street Performer Toledo, Spain

“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Who could resist this brave and quirky human as she delivers her Don Quixote monologue.

She clip clopped her way on her imaginary steed up the cobblestone streets of the ancient city of Toledo, Spain. We were so along for the ride!

Her sign says “unemployed”.

We hope her egg carton armour and cheeky sense of humour will shield her against the odds.

Today we saw life as it is, and not as it should be!

Busker What’s Your Story? – James Strachan

James Strachan

“Life is about balance. But sometimes you can’t see the balance.
Sometimes being unbalanced is actually the balance (if that makes sense).
I’ve encountered that advice in many different forms and it’s kind of stuck with me.”

James Strachan

25 year old James Strachan from Wodonga is best known for singing ‘a capella’ in his Barbershop Quartet titled Good Gravy.

I caught up with him busking solo at the Albury Wodonga Farmer’s Market, entertaining the crowd with some good old fashioned melodies on keyboard.

What’s a favourite lyric from any song?

“We are One – But we are Many,” from the song titled I am Australian by The Seekers
I think that’s a pretty good lyric.”

How did you come to be a musician?

“When I was a really young child my brothers would play the piano at home and I just loved it so much, I’d just get up and join them, and I love singing as well.”

Apart from earning some coin, what appeals to you about busking?

“Well today it’s about creating a harmonious and enjoyable atmoshpere for people, it’s nice.”

What’s something great, or terrible, you’ve experienced while busking?

“I haven’t busked a lot so nothing really stands out. But my mate busks around 1am or 2am in the
morning and he’s definately told me a lot of stories. You don’t point at people is one rule of his. He’s had blokes run off with some money, but mostly they’re just drunks mucking around.”