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New Documentary Series Shows the Inside Story of Street Musicians Around the World

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cqoNhOaAqk?rel=0&w=600&h=338]A new documentary series is coming out about the culture of street musicians around the world. I want to watch this. Let’s help make it happen.

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There are a few things that are nearly ubiquitous in world travel: buses, street food vendors, sketchy cops . . . Another is people playing music in the streets. It is a rare thing in this world to walk down the streets of a major city and not see someone out exchanging noise for pocket change. Street musicians are almost everywhere.

But how much do we really know about these people or this profession? Even I, who have befriended and/ or interviewed street musicians at various points in my travels have very little idea how most really live — especially the traditional traveling musicians or locals playing regional folk songs.

Where do they came from? Where do they go home to at night? How did they get started playing music in the streets? Where did they learn their songs? How much money do they actually make? What are the cultural dynamics?

India street musician

Filmmaker Ramiro Lago has decided to go out an answer these questions. So far he’s filmed street musicians in four countries in Asia, and he intends to continue doing so around the world and air his findings in a documentary series called Notas de la Calle:

It started a few years ago in a metro station looking for a hostel in Kuala Lumpur, when I stared for a long time at a blind couple. She was singing, he was playing guitar, and I remember looking at them wondering if they were playing a Malaysian popular song or one of their own, and if so, if they had been recorded yet?

I kept thinking about this couple for a long time. What about their daily life? Did they go every day to the same place? Did they have problems with police? How did they claimed the space? Since I saw them, I pretty much recorded every street musician I saw in every country I’ve been.

I spoke with Ramiro about this a few days ago in Xiamen, China. “I’ve always been interested in people doing things in the streets, living in the streets, giving away their music to everybody,” he said.

The project is being crowdfunded by people who want to learn about the background of this culture that spans the globe and extends far back through history. If you want to know a little more about the lives of the people you see playing music in the streets, here’s a chance to make it happen.

Support Notas de la Calle

Rami, the filmmaker doing this documentary, is a good friend. I’ve been watching him going around Xiamen filming for the past two years. This is going to be good. Please help him out a little — I really want to watch what he comes up with.


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Filed under: Art and Music, Jobs and Professions

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3720 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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