Busk or bust: how G20 will affect city performers


Band Henry James plays in the Queen Street Mall. Photo credit Janelsa Ouma
Sean Martin and Josh Richardson entertain passers-by at the Queen Street Mall. Photo: Janelsa Ouma

Brisbane city buskers said they have been left in the dark about changes to the CBD in the lead up to the G20 Summit.

Busking duo Henry James, who describe their musical style as a mix of jazz and blues, have regularly played at the Queen Street Mall for almost two years.

They claim they were not contacted or briefed about the street closures and increased security presence that is set to occur in the city during the G20 Summit.

The changes are problematic for the duo because busking is their only source of income.

“I’ve moved out of home with [busking], I support myself with it. It’s my only job, it’s how I get by,” Sean Martin, one of the Henry James duo said.

Both Mr Martin and fellow Henry James member Josh Richardson said they will have to take an unpaid, extended vacation when the G20 Summit comes around.

“The city is basically going to be empty for the most part, we’re not going to be able to play at all. Queen Street is shutting down for us anyway,” Mr Martin said.

But for other Queensland musicians, the show will go on as Queensland Government delivers 24 days of free music events as part of G20 Cultural Celebrations.

The free concerts will feature local Queensland artists, but Mr Richardson said he feels left out.

“There’s nothing for us… I don’t think they are concerned at all,” Mr Richardson said.

G20 Buskers
Lead singer Daryl James from Daryl James Music Train. Photo: Janelsa Ouma

But fellow city busking band, Daryl James Music Train, were contacted by the City Council to play in the cultural celebrations.

Lead singer, Daryl James, said his band declined the offer to be involved in the G20.

“Personally, I didn’t fill in the form because I don’t even want to be in the city, just because it’s all on high alert, it’s not a good place to be,” Mr James said.

“I’m not doing concerts for the G20 because I don’t support the stuff the government is doing.”

Brisbane is hosting free music events and other cultural celebrations across the city from October 24 to November 16. For more details, visit: http://g20cultural.initiatives.qld.gov.au/events.html

*Brisbane City Council were contacted for comment in relation to this story.  Because we must allow five working days for a response we are unable to report their position prior to deadline

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