While local businesses are making calls for increased police patrols and the city is putting up money to study a pedestrian-only block of the neighborhood, maybe it’s also time to consider a busking permit program in Pike/Pine. Especially if Joe the street drummer ever gets his buckets — and his glockenspiel — back.
Slog reported on the apparent arrest of Joe Buckets last week. CHS was also working on finding out more about the situation after learning Joe had been taken into custody during a Saturday night performance in Pike/Pine. CHS has learned that Joe was interviewed and released but police placed his gear — “4 plastic buckets, 4 high-hat cymbals, a glockenspiel, a plastic bell, and other assorted percussive instruments” — into evidence pending the outcome of his case which is in the hands of the City Attorney.
CHS wrote about the bucket drumming noise and interviewed Joe about his busking earlier this year. “It’s hard being on the streets moving from place to place with all this gear,” Joe, who is homeless, told CHS. “And it’s tough trying to play when drunk or obnoxious people are trying to ruin my show. Once, I even had a lady come at me with a baseball bat a a couple months ago. I’ve struggled a lot out here, but I think it’s also part of becoming an artist — it makes you humble. Sometimes people come up to me without any money but really like what I am doing and say thank you — that means even more to me.”
According to the report on Joe’s arrest earlier this month, the drummer was contacted by police multiple times that Saturday night:
According to the report, after the cops talked to Joe a second time around 11:15 PM — and gave him a printout of the municipal code on noise disturbances — the officers continued their Pike/Pine walking patrol… but Joe reportedly didn’t stop drumming:
According to a SPD spokesperson, Joe’s case was referred to the City Attorney’s office for possible noise disturbance charges. The spokesperson said Joe wouldn’t be able to get his gear back until the case was resolved. We haven’t yet heard back from City Hall on whether there will be any charges. UPDATE: A representative for the City Attorney said the case is still being reviewed by a prosecutor as of Tuesday morning.
As for the possibility of regulating performances around Pike/Pine, any kind of busking permit program on Seattle’s public streets seems unlikely despite the rather robust program (PDF) operating at the Pike Place Market:
There are 13 locations throughout the Market where performers can entertain Market shoppers for an hour at a time. Painted musical notes mark the sidewalks where they stand, and the number painted on the note corresponds to the number of performers that can play there at one time. New performers are always welcome at the Market. Due to the historic nature of the Market, horns, percussion and amplified music are not permitted. All Market performers are required to purchase a performer’s badge. To perform at the Market, visit the Market office on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 – 4 pm to apply. The cost is $30 for an annual permit. Performer permits expire on April 14 each year. Permits for the following year will be available starting the first Tuesday in April and must be paid by April 15 each year (or by the first performance date of the year). They remain valid until the following April 14.
In 2005, an attempt to create a similar permitting program at the Seattle Center was ruled unconstitutional. Another option might be giving performers like Joe places to play inside on private property — but that kind of isn’t really the point of being a street drummer.
We’re still checking on what happens with the case and will update when we learn more from the City Attorney’s office.