Busking, or street performing, is a profession dating back hundreds of years. Busking can include literally any type of entertainment, including magic tricks, balloon animals, puppet shows, card tricks, dancing, juggling, miming, and of course, musical performances. The most common – and most popular – buskers in the Tampa area are singers and instrumentalists. Come down to support these local artists and don’t forget to tip the performer.
Irish Buskers, a fascinating Celtic music group that performs uncannily addictive music, is made up of five musicians. Anthony Urgovitch plays the upright bass; Bobbie Poff plays the flute; Steve Poff covers vocals, harmonica, fiddle, guitar and banjo; Jaye Williams performs vocals and percussion; and Steve Hegarty performs vocals while playing the guitar, banjo or piano. Originally formed for a St. Patrick’s Day event in 2007, the band now tours the Tampa Bay area and performs for all kinds of special occasions at a variety of different venues, including Flanagan’s Irish Pub, O’Keef’s Tavern, Skipper’s Smokehouse and O’Brien’s Pub. The buskers perform traditional Irish tunes and sing-along pub songs as well as some original works. The band recorded its first CD in 2010. Song samples and as booking information can be found on the group’s website.
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Stacy Cason is a 47-year-old a cappella singer who makes her living by belting out familiar tunes in her hearty Southern gospel-tinged voice. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, she moved to downtown St. Petersburg in 2003. Usually Stacy performs around BayWalk on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and at the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. Friendly, gracious and full of heart, she carries a notebook full of song lyrics and delights her listeners with such popular classics as “Smile” and “Over the Rainbow.”
Patrick “The Guitar Man” Fowle
Patrick Fowle, known around the BayWalk area as “The Guitar Man,” specializes in popular 1970s songs by artists such as Jimmy Buffett, John Denver and Jim Croce. He cradles his guitar, decorated with the “Dark Side of the Moon” prism, in his lap while passionately playing his favorite songs and greeting listeners with a warm smile. Like all musicians, he gives each song he performs a personal touch. His favorite song, “Ballad of the Beacon” by Wishbone Ash, was originally recorded as a fairly up-tempo song, but becomes a ballad when resonating from Patrick’s pipes. His pleasant tone and wide vibrato paired with his easy-going demeanor make him a favorite among Bay Area buskers.
Steven Shuniak is a mandolin soloist – not something you see every day on the streets of Tampa. The quiet 31-year-old has been playing the mandolin for years, an instrument that was handmade for him in New York City in 2007. He hangs out in front of Fortunato’s Italian Pizzeria on weekends and performs traditional Italian music. Some of his more popular songs include “Let Us Dance the Last Mazurka” and “Amorino.” With masterful technique and expertly precise rhythm, Steven Shuniak is someone you would expect to see showcased in a performing arts hall.
Chris Brudy is a singer and guitarist–occasionally throwing in a smattering of harmonica–who has been busking in the Tampa Bay area for about 15 years. His extensive repertoire includes the songs of Gershwin, Garth Brooks, Don Ho, the Beatles and Jimmy Buffett, just to name a handful. He has also written some original songs. While he often performs in front of Fortunato’s Italian Pizzeria, he has been around the Bay and also occasionally performs in legit gigs. His warm, welcoming smile and love for entertaining draws in listeners, and his passion for live music keeps them coming back for more.
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Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.