So, if you didn’t already know, apparently there had been a ban on busking, or street performing, in San Antonio up until the summer of last year (even though I swear I’ve seen that bagpipe guy by the downtown McDonalds for years). With the ban gone, we asked a few local performers from San Antonio what their experience has been playing the streets of the River City.
Singer/guitar player Nick Long of Lonely Horse, who participated in a busking test program put on by the city in 2015, says he usually busks by aforementioned McDonalds, near the La Antorcha de la Amistad sculpture. Asked what he thinks about the new law, which bars performers from using amplification of any kind, Long says, “It sucks downtown sometimes 'cuz you’re singing over cars and traffic...some level of amplification would be nice”
Long said he used to see Alvaro del Norte of Piñata Protest (which is currently on tour with The Casualties and Brujeria) busking in front of The Alamo, which is now on list of areas that ban busking.
“After moving to our third location, closer to the River Center Mall, we thought we had finally found a good spot” local dancer and theater director Stephan Gaeth says. It was crowded, but the space was large enough for him and guitarist Sam Fuller to play and dance. They were soon joined by another guitarist, and even a random guy who decided to join in and sing. “But within 30 minutes of being there, we were stopped by two cops on bikes who then told us that the whole street, Commerce Street, was actually off limits." The cops didn't fine them, but reminded them that they could have.
Despite the crackdown on performances and insidiously increasing list of restrictions, there are still many who are pretty stoked about getting the opportunity to play to strangers, like local pop sensation Wayne Holtz, who has yet to busk but is eager to test the waters.
“Busking is all I've wanted to do for the past 6 months,” Holtz says. “Sure I've been lucky enough to play at some of the best venues in town, but since I'm not trained, I've always felt like a street dancer. A street performer. The idea of throwing your talent in an unsuspecting crowd's face may be frightening to some, but I['d] feel right at home."
Taken from the The Downtown Street Performers Policy of San Antonio, here's some information on location restrictions (updated as of October 19, 2016).
Busking will not be allowed on the San Antonio River Walk, Alamo Plaza (bounded by Alamo Street from Commerce to Houston, and east to Crockett and Blum – to include sidewalks on both sides of the street and the Plaza itself), Main Plaza and outdoor spaces owned and controlled by the City of San Antonio for other purposes such as the Convention Center, Alamodome, City Hall, Market Square, La Villita, and the Commerce St Bridge between Losoya and Presa St.
Persons performing on street level bridges over the San Antonio River Walk should take note that any loud sounds created as part of their performance shall likely be deemed a noise nuisance by River Walk proprietors or downtown residents and will thus be asked to cease creating such sound or be subject to citation under section 21-52 "noise nuisance."