Andy: “It’s not something you would do for fun, It’s a survival technique.”

By Josh Reaney

Andy Kirkham, 51, from Meadowhead, relies on busking to fund his PHD in Ethnomusicology at the University of Sheffield.

He says he only turns to busking when the need arises as it can attract unwanted attention.

“When you put yourself out in the streets and you start making a noise you attract attention. Some of it is good attention but a lot of the time you get attention from freaks and weirdo’s and that can be very dangerous.”

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A close encounter

The most dangerous situation Andy has been in whilst busking was in York when another busker threatened him with a knife.

“I got this one spot and this guy came up and said this is my pitch, and he pulled a knife and flicked it right in front of my face,

“I thought f**k it I’m not that interested.”

Because Andy is a mature student he isn’t entitled to benefits and a lack of government support means there are no grants available for people looking to study PHD’s in arts and humanities.

The blues

Although he has been through a lot whilst completing his PHD, Andy says the blues helps him see the bigger picture and reminds him that he’s not alone.

“The blues speaks to me in a voice which is beyond language. Everything else seems juvenile and pointless.”

“Once you get into it and start really thinking about what it means you learn that everything’s going to be alright.”

“People think its sad music and it’s not it’s all about defiance.”

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