Busking Tips: Durham Buskers Rated

As Christmas draws near, so do the crowds. This means that Durham’s buskers are out in force and it’s high time we got to know them better…

The Symbol of Hope

Name: Yoon-Sang Jang.

Age: Unknown.

Reasons for Busking: “For the unification of my country” – he asks that you too pray for his cause.


Originally from South Korea, Yoon-Sang moved to Durham in 1995 after obtaining an MA in Philosophy. His favourite song is Panis Angelicus and says he will stop busking once he has enough money to look after his wife and finish his education.

A lyric sheet for those rarer hymns.

Not merely a singer, he can also play the violin and piano, is good at swimming and can speak English, Chinese and German as well as South Korean.

This versatile gene pool continues as Jang has two sons, one at Imperial (classic) and one working for Samsung in Frankfurt. Unfortunately, now they are independent, he must continue to busk in order to provide for his wife; she waits patiently in Gilesgate whilst he guarantees his place in heaven by singing hymns in the Market Place.

The icing on the cake is that any extra money he makes goes to the Korean Methodist Church on North Road.

Relationship status: Married. A shame, because he is literally the Angel of the North.

Unique Selling Point: Adorable and wielding a ‘sob story’ that could get him to boot camp.

Human Appeal: 5/5

Talent: 3/5


The Businessman

Name: Mihai

Age: 59

Reasons for busking: Unintelligible.

Too frightened to get him to hold the t-shirt.

After an uncomfortable amount of miscommunication and gesturing, Mihai made some phone calls. Eventually someone picked up and after being handed the phone was informed it was his English-speaking Romanian nephew, posing as unofficial translator. A mini interview ensued before being told “I don’t know you. Don’t ask any more questions.”

Turns out Mihai moved from Romania in 2007 and busks in Durham twice a week with his accordion.

Whilst still lost in translation and saddled with barely concealed anxiety, the cue to leave came when a man walking past slipped a fat wad of twenties into Mihai’s waiting palm. Without breaking stride, the stranger gave a small, barely noticeable nod of acknowledgement before continuing across the bridge. A huge accordion fan?

Relationship status: Married (thank God).

Unique Selling Point: A variation on the standard busking choice of guitar, but you wouldn’t want to cross him in a dark alley. Plus song suggestions would be pretty much impossible.

Human appeal: 2/5

Talent: 4/5


The One Man Band

Name: Nick

Age: Unknown

Reasons for Busking: Nick has been playing his band for 35 years, most notoriously around Framwellgate Bridge on a Sunday.


Originally from Windsor, Nick now lives in Sunderland with his wife and three kids. His favourite instrument is the kazoo as he believes that humming can convey the “most expression.” Not to be confused with the harmonica, as asking a musician how he learnt to play the kazoo looks moronic.

Handmade by…you guessed it.

Relationship status: Married. Gutting, since he made the contraption himself, so you know he’s good with his hands.

Unique Selling Point: Bizarre instruments, classic song choices…’Here comes the sun’ etc.

Human appeal: 4/5

Talent: 4/5


The Socialite

Name: Danny

Age: 22

Reasons for busking: “My girlfriend’s gluten-free and that shit’s expensive. Plus I was skint.”

Lighting up a doobie, as per bloody usual. (Not actually).

After working at Jimmy Allen’s, it had been rumoured that Danny was in fact the owner. However this can be quashed since he was only ever a barman on the middle level, habitually privy to people having sex in the booths downstairs.  Unfortunately he won’t be able to watch you since he left last September.

Currently living in Neville’s Cross, Danny splits his time between his girlfriend, a second year from Grey, busking and his job at Osbourne’s.

He frequents Nova and also used to go to Fabio’s until he was barred. He said “I don’t know why I was barred this time.” It was only on previous occasions that he was banned for “knocking people out when they start shit.” Fair enough.

If you’re a busker and are reading this page, Danny wants to organise a night out. For Mihai, to avoid needless contact with his already irate nephew, there’s probably no point translating.

Relationship status: In a relationship. But those of you who are single might consider taking up busking; among Danny’s spoils have been girls’ numbers, tobacco, a loaf of bread and a can of special brew.

Unique Selling Point: Confident and astute, Danny was born to busk.

Human appeal: 4/5

Talent: 5/5


The Aspiring Star

Name: Corey Spence

Age: 21

Reasons for busking: Needed to pay rent.

Who could resist those dulcet tones? (His singing, not his accent, obvs).

Corey has since signed onto the jobcentre whilst he sets up his new business and is currently booked up for weddings and Christenings until August (if you’re interested here is a taster). He also recently auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent in Edinburgh, so perhaps a claim to fame there.

He went to the same school as Danny and is in the year below, so these guys are a tight knit bunch. All said that on a good day they could earn up to fifty quid whilst on a bad day maybe only a tenner (this is through busking, Mihai, just in case you were confused).

Relationship status: Single – he’s self-taught, ladies.

Unique Selling Point: Cheeky and flirtatious, this is one to watch.

Human appeal: 4/5

Talent: 5/5


The Sweetheart

Name: Chloe

Age: 17

Reasons for busking: “It’s extra pocket money!”

Young and sweet, only 17. Feel the beat from her tambourine.

Chloe, originally from London, is half-Brazilian and has lived in Durham for 6 years. She does music at college and has been using busking to get over her nerves about singing publicly. You can find her most weekends opposite Superdry, working in Salsa Sabor or on Purple Radio.

Her best takings: 3 Krispy Kremes, a hot chocolate and some midget gems. To those dropping Caribbean dollars and euros: piss off.

Next year, Chloe wants to go to uni in London to get out of Durham and away from the two men she has regularly yelling at people to dance to her songs.

Relationship status: Unfortunately this wallflower is no singleton; she has had a boyfriend for a year, he’s 20 and he plays the bongos.

Unique Selling Point: Endearing with a first-rate voice, Chloe is the penny-dropper’s dream.

Human appeal: 5/5

Talent: 5/5


So who do you think is the best busker? Have your say below: