This Episode proudly sponsored by:
This episode is proudly sponsored by Dolphin Creative – a company who is proud to support street theatre and all of the incredible characters who make up this world. Where ever you perform: Dolphin Creative salutes you! For more information please visit DolphinCreative.org – Huge thanks to Stuart and his team for sponsoring this episode and one more to come!
- Interview by: Magic Brian
- Interviewee: David Aiken, The Checkerboard Guy
- Original Recording Date: August 29, 2018
- Date: Aired: May 15, 2019
- Locations: Dave’s old house in North Vancouver, BC, Canada
- Mixed and edited by: Magic Brian and David Aiken for The Busker Hall of Fame
Comments: It all started with an idea that David Aiken pitched to Robert Nelson during a visit Dave made to Robert’s place to Hawaii back in October of 2011 for a podcast dedicated to creating a living oral history about street performing and some of the crazy characters that populate this world. That idea turned into a website that website then hosted the very first Stories from the Pitch Podcast that was released on November 1, 2011.
But how do you capture what the Street Performing community is in an audio podcast? The characters are so varied, so diverse and so many. The answer seems to have been one story, one person, one episode at a time. We, as a community, are such a rich tapestry of creative energy and talent that no one episode can capture it all and 100 episodes feels like just the beginning.
Magic Brian sat down with co-founder of the Busker Hall of Fame, David Aiken to discuss the history of the project and try to make sense of the seven and a half year journey from the original idea to the release of Episode 100. As with any journey, the seven and a half years Dave spent capturing and releasing these Stories from the Pitch, were filled with all sorts of interesting challenges, learning opportunities and rewards.
Bonus Materials from Images from The Checkerboard Guy’s Personal Archives –
November 14, 2011 – Two weeks after we launched the very first Stories from the Pitch podcast I was back in Hawaii hanging out with Robert and trying to figure out how we were going to do this thing. The original inspiration came from Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, a show by comedians about comedians and the business of Stand-Up. We wanted to do the same thing for the world of Street Theatre. And so began the journey!
January 12, 2012 – Over the years, Robert collected a vast number of trophies and awards that were on display around the house. His vision for the Busker Hall of Fame was to not only produce a podcast, but also have a permanent home for the relics from our World.
June 29, 2012 – Before he died, Robert got to distribute a number of Busker Hall of Fame T-Shirts which featured a skull head with a butterfly tattoo on it. I helped co-ordinate the effort and posed in front of my S-Cargo that get’s mentioned in this Episode shortly after we took delivery of the shirts. You can see a gallery of other folks wearing these shirts here. That S-Cargo has since been retired from road use (the rack and pinion steering assembly wore out), but is still sitting on our property on Vancovuer Island and is being used to hold all of our Bee Keeping equipment. Some people have garden gnomes, I have an S-Cargo.
August 7, 2012 – Dinner with friends! Magic Brian, his wife Amy and Fraser Hooper stayed for a few days and I got to expose my wife and boys to more fantastic-ness from ‘Our World.’ The house was full of laughter for those few days and this was also when I roped Magic Brian into collaborating on the B-HOF project. He has worked harder than any other contributor to the podcast and I’m thrilled to be handing things over to him now that I’m stepping away to pursue other interests. I look forward to seeing where his vision takes this beast!
March 29, 2013 – Ensenada, Mexico, The original ‘Instigator of Big Ideas’ Lindsey Lindberg and I hop off different cruise ships that we were performing on and connect to do some Busker HoF Business and celebrate by smoking a couple of cigars… I am so grateful to Lindsay for coming on board in the early days and contributing her energy to the project. Pretty ridiculous and awesome to get to enjoy cigars with this lovely lady too!
September 13, 2013 – This is me in my office/recording studio sporting the second Robert Nelson Inspired t-shirt. There was a bit of controversy over the black shirt design with the skull on it because certain people who loved Robert didn’t want to be reminded of his demise and felt the skull with his tattoo on it was a bit too ‘dark.’ This design, a graphic created by the incredibly talented Rachel Peters depicts Robert riding his unicycle, peddling with his hands and juggling with his feet…classic!
December 23, 2013 – Sometimes to get the best sound quality for the opening and closing bumpers for each episode I find a small space, put a blanket over my head to muffle any room noise and do two – five takes of each of my voice overs to get things just right. The small space I’m in here is actually a small toilet room in my mother-in-law’s house in Osaka, Japan. Weird and wonderful the things I’ve done putting out these first 100 Episodes.
March 22, 2014 – I had the chance to hop off The Grand Princess in San Francisco and visit the Plaque that’s been mounted in Pier 39 as a tribute to The Butterfly Man. It seemed only fitting to be wearing the original B-HOF T-Shirt when I made the pilgrimage.
April 17, 2014 – Me, the mic and a ‘Stories from the Pitch’ mini-poster behind my left shoulder. I came up with a design for a poster that featured the cover art for each of the episodes. At that point, the mock-up I created and printed out on my printer featured the first 25 Episodes.
January 4, 2015 – Once again, the gifted artist, Rachel Peters, lent her talents to the project creating this sculpture that we had hoped to get cast in bronze and mounted on a wooden pedestal that would have the names of all of the inductees to the Busker Hall of Fame. Sort of the ‘Stanley Cup’ of Busking. I envisioned greatness from our community being recognized by the community. There’s an annual selection process and vote that you can read about more here along with seeing who’s been inducted to date.
March 16, 2015 – NEW TOYS! Grabbed this shot of the new mic arm and pop guard in place. Bit-by-bit I tried to improve the sound quality of the episodes that were being put out by addressing quality issues one at a time. I would have loved to have actually taken a course in audio engeneering to make things even better, but finding time to do that sort of thing as a touring entertainer wasn’t in the cards.
October 30, 2015 – Sometimes to get the quality of the vocals your after you need to switch things up a bit… Did this costume help? No clue, but sometimes you just gotta do what ya gotta do.
December 12, 2015 – When we got to 64 Episodes released I went ahead and actually had ‘Stories from the Pitch’ posters printed. There are still a bunch of these around, though I’ll likely be shipping them to someone else involved with the project now that my time as ‘Point Man for the Project’ is coming to a close.
June 13, 2017 – My home office/studio… As an interesting note, the Elvis clock above the middle window was so loud with it’s tick, tick, tick, that I always took it down and moved it whenever I was recording. Eventually I just took the battery out so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. The clock was a gift from The Original Rock and Roll Marionette Master – Lee Zimmerman who was featured in Episode 55 of the podcast.
August 16, 2018 – While Magic Brian was in town for the Pacific National Exhibition, not only did we record this episode of the podcast, we also brewed a batch of beer. Brian wanted to come up with a brand new recipe and we bantered back an forth until we came up with a recipe for a Belgian Style Dubbel infused with orange peel, cinnamon and habanero peppers. As the beers that I make at Checkerhead Brewing inevitably become tributes to people, we decided to make this one in honour of Brian’s son, Dino. For Dino, anything large equipment on a construction site that isn’t a ‘truck’ is a ‘Dookaloo.’ That word is so awesome that we decided to use it in the name of the beer. So, because the two of us came up with the recipe and it’s a Dubbel, we decided to call it ‘Dino’s Dubbel-Duty Dookaloo.’ It’s very much a Christmas/Holiday beer and I’ll definitely be making it again and tweaking the recipe moving forward. Woohoo!
October 14, 2018 – after moving from North Vancouver to Vancouver Island, I got the mic set-up right away in my new office because I had to get another episode out. I actually took a month off from putting out an episode in September 2018 because there was just too much going on, but I was back at it in time to get an episode out in October.
January 9, 2019 – Rachel Peters strikes again… I enlisted Rachel’s help to craft labels for the tribute beers I’ve been creating. The ‘CheckerWeisen’ is a classic German Style Hefeweisen made with a mix of wheat and barley. My take on this includes ‘Sterling’ hops grown in my back-yard hop plantation and the yeast used for this one produces ‘banana notes’ in the finished beer. Banana = slapstick in my book, so I requested a banana peel next to the bottom of my free-standing ladder – just cause! The ladder was also positioned over ‘Germany’ as a tribute to the land of origin for this particular beer. If you ever make it out to Checkerhead Brewing, I’ll be more than happy to pour you a sample.
April 14, 2019 – So much of my time spent on this project saw me sitting in front of my computer between shows on cruise ships working on edits – this shot was taken as I was putting the finishing touches on the Rob Torres Re-Release Episode while sitting aboard the Norwegian Pearl. I used Apple’s Soundtrack Pro as my editor of choice which is no longer being supported as a software platform, but it served me well for the seven and a half years of editing podcasts for this project.
Find out more about sponsoring this podcast by emailing magic@BuskerHallofFame.com