Street performing is one of the oldest professions there is, and it’s a tough hustle for anyone. Best of Street’s mission is to make that hustle a bit easier by enabling street performers to receive virtual donations AND connect with more fans through our sharing platform. The way we see it, it’s as simple as… 'See. Scan. Act.’
Quick Response (QR) Codes are everywhere, and approximately 46 million people in the US use those striking, square arrangements of seemingly random black and white pixels in some way EVERY SINGLE DAY. And that’s just one country. In a nutshell, a QR Code is an incredibly efficient way of providing a little or a lot of information. A QR Code reader (most commonly an app that uses the camera function on a smartphone or tablet) can scan a code of any size from any source, and once scanned, the user can be linked to an almost endless variety of information, be it a webpage, a music download, a coupon for popcorn at the movies, or…well, pretty much anything you can imagine. Best of Street uses them to connect entertainers with their audiences in a way that’s fast, secure and direct.
Ever been inspired by an unexpected performance on the street? Some of the best music isn’t being made or performed in traditional venues. It’s being played on the streets of New Orleans and on the metro platforms of Paris; it’s being performed in temporary theater spaces on improvised stages in Edinburgh, or under some shade on the docks of Goa. Around the globe, great art is being produced outside the mainstream, and the artists who make it survive on their wits and the donations of appreciative patrons. Best of Street is about two of our favorite things: spreading the word about great street performers and getting them paid. We provide personalized QR codes to a community of street artists worldwide, and consumers can scan these codes with a QR code reader on their smartphone, allowing them to digitally donate money to artists, buy their recordings, and spread the word.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
"I buy my best music from Best of Street...an idea whose time has arrived." -Lesley Gore.
"Tired of antiseptic, manicured plastic pop music? The real deal from the sidewalks of New Orleans -- hands down, the greatest music city on the face of the earth -- is the antidote to today's pop music blues. "The Best of the Street" is the real deal in the face of an ever-increasing superficial, homogenous, empty-headed culture. Bon ton roulet, keeping it real. Long live the living." -Joel Selvin
"I finally got a chance to listen. I like it, very authentic. The spirit seems to be intact." -Didi Casnati of The Gypsy Queens talking about the Best of Street Album
"The 2013 Hell Yes Fest was a tremendous success, hosting comedians and comedy groups from all over. One of the best parts of this festival was working with and being sponsored by incredible local businesses and organizations. One such organization, Best of Street, was particularly great to work with. Their mission to empower musicians strikes a chord with us in comedy/arts/entertainment industry. Their generosity in supporting our festival is huge, considering the hard work they are doing right now to raise money for their own initiative. We were thrilled to be associated with them and could not have asked for a better sponsor." -Chris Trew
"As a music producer I've signed two street performers to to recording contracts and their lives and lives of others were changed forever because of it. They made more money but they never left the streets. If you like your music authentic and played by people who will pay any price for you to hear it, go down to your local bohemia and put your ear to the pavement and hold your breath." -John Snyder
It’s the coldest day of the year in New Orleans. Multi-instrumentalist Chris Christy is at his home in the Bywater, a neighborhood in New Orleans bordered by the Mississippi River and the French Quarter. Chris has been in New Orleans for two years, arriving two days before Hurricane Isaac. He’s been playing on the streets since arriving from Southern California, even gathering a group of regulars who seek him out when he performs. Unlike most of his contemporaries, you won’t find Chris Christy on the tourist-coated sidewalks of Royal Street; he has no interest in belonging to the exclusive groups of performers that band together like old-line Mardi Gras krewes, occupying the coveted central French Quarter spots. Instead, he’ll be on Decatur and Frenchmen, sitting street-side with his resonator, maybe an accordion he borrowed off a friend. “There,” he says, “it’s just me by myself, maybe a couple people watching. That’s when I can play what I want.” Adding, after a pause, a smile, and a drag from his cigarette, “I love that.”
See. Scan. Act.
There are few stories as tumultuous, adventurous, and extraordinary than the one that belongs to the troubadour Dick Deluxe. From his first gig in 1973 (subbing for an incapacitated Townes Van Zandt on an unplugged upright bass) to playing with New Orleans greats such as Earl King and Queen Ida, to his 30 years of score writing with Clubfoot Orchestra composer and trombone virtuoso Richard Marriott, Dick Deluxe is a true living legend. His first experiences playing on the street were in the 70’s in San Francisco where he says, “I made a 100 dollars the first day, and 20 cents the next.” Today, Dick Deluxe can be found in New Orleans, playing in local venues and on the streets of the French Quarter.
See. Scan. Act.
The Drunken Catfish Ramblers are, at their core, a street band. Although young in years, they have a lifetime of collective experience playing the streets of the world, not to mention the stages of the Montreal and New Orleans Jazz Fests, Merlefest, and more. They started years ago as a freight-hopping bunch of travelers swapping songs, bottles and stories as they made their way east from California. But New Orleans was destined to play host to their signature sound. Their sets comprise a cross section of the best of American vernacular music, from Delta blues to Appalachian stomps to early jazz and popular songs. The guitar and vocal interplay between Greg Sherman and "Stalebread" Scottie Swears can be as sweet as cider or can cut like the dozens. Backed by the hypnotic drive of R.C.'s Hampton's washboard and the jug-based style of Robert Ayo's tuba, it's a potent combination. Mr. Gunn's accompaniment provides solid counterpoint, ragging and syncopating the lines with uncommon ease or laying down the melody line with uncanny accuracy. They treat every song like a mint condition 78, and so it's no surprise that they sound like it too.
See. Scan. Act.
The Drunken Catfish Ramblers
The Hokum High Rollers are a raw musical sensation that blends Pre-WWII Piedmont Blues, Ragtime, Hot Jazz and Western Swing with the enthused sounds of contemporary rock n’ roll. Founded in 2011, the Hokum High Rollers consists of Joseph Faison, Corey Macgillivary, Jason Lawrence, Benjamin Asher, and Chazz Hampton. The Hokum High Rollers draw from the great musical traditions of the American south by reworking songs from the public domain and reinventing them to reflect the conditions of a new era. Much like the troubadours who came before them, they capture the essence of the New Orleans streets, making their own place in the great musical history of the city.
See. Scan. Act.
The Hokum High Rollers
The Good Gollies are made up of Emma Eisenhauer and Camille Weatherford. The band categorizes their playful music and breathtaking harmonies as “funky country blues with sassy soul on the side.” Drawing from the influences of music greats like Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, and Precious Bryant, they offer a unique yet authentic take on outlaw country, blues, gospel, and funk. Both hailing originally from the Northwest, Emma and Camille first met in Portland, OR, where they began playing together. In 2012, they made the decision to travel to New Orleans. They played their music on the streets of California to make enough money to fund their trip and then headed south. In New Orleans, they joined the tightly knit community of artists who play throughout the French Quarter. They can be found there today, their hair often big, their clothes often coordinated, their smiles always glowing, and their music playing sweetly.
See. Scan. Act.
The Good Gollies
Born in upstate New York Madeleine Reidy is new to the streets of New Orleans. She arrived in the fall of 2013. Coming from Asheville singing “straight up 20’s and 30’s jazz (1917 – 1937),” Maddy and her Jazz Friends can now be found bring soul to the crowds on Royal Street. Her father is an old-time musician, lending to her influences growing up with music. Depending on who plays, Madeline changes her sound and context accordingly, keeping her book of songs within arm’s reach. Playing accordion on her travels, Maddy was part of The Big Nasty Jazz Band in Ashville and moved to New Orleans to start a new band, where the street music culture and community is like no other. Being surrounded by so many great musicians day and night is no doubt the perfect atmosphere for bands to ignite.
See. Scan. Act.
Nathan Rivera is a multi-instrumentalist from Southern California. His introduction to music came through his father, a blues bass guitar player, but evolved as he formed punk bands, learned classical guitar, and began writing songs.In his teens, he began bringing his guitar with him everywhere, a sort of added appendage on his back. As he stopped and played, people began to listen, and their reactions inspired him to continue to play on the street. Nathan Rivera’s music is meant, at its core, to make people happy. Blending jazz, blues, folk, and Romany music, Nathan Rivera formed a unique and unusual sound, which he refers to as “Gypsy Blues.”
Nathan Rivera first arrived in New Orleans on his birthday in 2010, had a dollar pinned to his shirt, and slept next to a cemetery. Since then, he’s kept coming back, becoming a part of an incredible network of musicians that regularly play on the street. He can been found in New Orleans today, playing on Royal Street or in local venues.
See. Scan. Act.
Born in Pennsylvania, Shine has been playing the guitar ever since he can recall. Quitting his job to pursue music completely, he left town with nothing but a few bucks and his instruments, “playing on the street to earn a few bucks for food.” First arriving in New Orleans 3 years ago, he has been drawn back to make this city his home, feeling totally welcome as a musician and having the opportunity to play with his idols. Busking has given Shine the freedom to travel around the country and connect with other musicians and people. Royal Street in New Orleans has been a stomping ground for this passion. Being a fan of Beck, WC, Björk, and Elliot Smith, and having a lifetime of influences has lead his raw sound to folk music. “Hopefully it feels good.”
See. Scan. Act.
In 2009, Todd Day Wait put everything he owned on the curb of his home in Columbia, Missouri, and started what would become a seemingly never-ending cross-county voyage. Traveling in a vegetable oil-powered airport shuttle bus, he headed out to California by way of the Rocky Mountains, and ended up in New Orleans. Along the way, he would find collaborators where he could, picking up one line-up for a few states, and rotating regionally. Relying on each musician’s various strengths, Todd would adapt his music to suit them, shifting genres as he did states. Through this process, Todd Day Wait arrived at a musical aesthetic that blends blues, folk, country, early R&B, and soul. In 2012, after years on the road, Todd Day Wait relocated to New Orleans and the permanent line-up of Todd Day Wait’s Pigpen was formed, including Matt Dethrow on upright bass, George Aschmann on fiddle, and Todd Day Wait on guitar. Today, Todd Day Wait’s Pigpen can be found playing on the streets of the French Quarter and in venues throughout New Orleans.
See. Scan. Act.
Todd Day Wait's Pigpen
Yes Ma’am are New Orleans based street musicians playing 1920’s rock ‘n roll about women, chickens and drinkin’. Dizzie plays the washboard with Elena Dorn on Violin, Matt Edens is the soaring vocalist playing the guitar suitcase and even a bell all at once. Asher is on base and Harlan on the banjo. Their sound is gritty but heartfelt singing songs about “the best things in life: fried food, pretty women, ramblin', and loving your mother.” Pleasing the crowds on Royal Street with their unique performance Yes Ma’am are witty, fun and make you want to move your feet.
See. Scan. Act.
Kim's career has been marked by a number of highlights, starting with the prestigious D&AD Award nomination in 2003 as Creative Director for The British Tea Council, working with talent such as Minnie Driver, Kate Moss, Kylie Minogue, and Stella McCartney to bring the "cup of tea" alive in a creative exhibition, book and digital experience called My Cup Of Tea. At 30, she was appointed one of the youngest board members at Hill & Knowlton for her expertise in mobile technology and entertainment, a unique mix that applies to the every day mission of Best Of Street. When Kim and Best of Street co-founder Jeff Semones met, they arrived at the Best Of Street concept individually, and together they realized the concept into the social enterprise it is today. email@example.com
Jeff's professional experience consists of an amalgamation of entertainment, digital media, marketing and advertising. His music business career began in college as an A&R field rep for Capitol Records, where he discovered his eye (and ears) for talent. In 1992 Jeff moved into the live music space as an independent concert promoter in the Midwest, overseeing all booking, promoting and production responsibilities. In 1996, Jeff moved to Los Angeles where he joined the William Morris Agency upon being accepted to their much lauded Agent Trainee program, booking talent for the Contemporary Music Department. In 1999 Jeff dove into digital media world by co-launching a start-up, online marketing services company called M80. In short order M80 became a leader in providing interactive marketing solutions for the music and entertainment industries while helping to establish and legitimize a burgeoning word of mouth marketing industry. Today, Jeff is the President of M80, guiding the company’s evolution into a full service social media agency, now part the WPP network of companies. Throughout it all, Jeff's fascination with the convergence of entertainment, technology and human interaction is what motivates and inspires him as much today as it did 20+ years ago. Jeff.Semones@m80.com
Jess CottonArtist Liaison
A marketing graduate from London, Jess has worked freelance for a range of businesses, from tech to scouting to consulting. Blitzing the wonderful world of music festivals, she has worked as an artist liaison at The BRIT Awards in 2013 and for the Rolling Stones at their series of 2013 concerts in Hyde Park, London. Now, Jess finds herself flying over the pond to follow the roots of music in New Orleans, working for profits with purpose to discover raw talent from the streets. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamie SolockDigital Lead
Jamie Solock is a visual artist who creates installations that explore the interaction between language and image and the way it affects ideas of perception, bias and expectation. She recently relocated to New Orleans after completing her Masters of Sculpture at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Before pursuing her art career, she spent five years as a project manager in the publishing industry. She uses her skills as an artist to create innovative design campaigns, websites, and displays for creative companies and others who want a visual artist to work on their products. She is particularly interested in using new technologies to generate striking solutions to design problems. Jamie is also a member of the New Orleans art collective the Front, where she shows her work. email@example.com
Press and Content Developer
Reya Hart is a young artist from the northern California coast. Leaving her rural home for San Francisco at 15, she managed to work at some of the most culturally historic landmarks in San Francisco including City Lights Bookstore, the Warfield Theatre, and the Fillmore West. At 18, she moved to New York to intern at Rolling Stone magazine and became an online contributor. Since then, she has traveled the world, living briefly in London before falling in love with New Orleans, where she can now be found listening to jazz underneath the willow trees. Reya Hart is a graduate of the creative writing program at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts and is currently a Music Industry Studies Major at Loyola University, New Orleans. firstname.lastname@example.org