Free Downtown Concert(s): The Big Busk Returns To Portland This Saturday


2011 Update: Free Portland Downtown Concert(s): The Third Annual Big Busk This Weekend


If there aren’t enough Portland street festivals, beer festivals, whole city festivals for you this weekend, how about a free downtown concert around every corner? That is what you get with the Big Busk, which returns for its second year this Saturday.

I received an email last year about the first Big Busk and asked the founder, Richard Mavis, what exactly the big busk is.

Richard’s response:

There’s no pretension to it. I got the idea one night, posted an ad on Craigslist the next, and then it became a thing. The people that were into it were really into it, for various reasons of course but mostly for the reasons that make this festival different from others — being decentralized (no stage, no audience) and invasive (every corner is a stage, everyone is the audience), publicized (media mentions and other promotions) but insiderey (you could “wander into it” just by being downtown), and so on.

Yeah, it’s an experiment. Busk and bust are different by just one letter. But so far reaction has been positive. There are forces that would like to see this become a regular event. Hopefully this one will be good enough to warrant a second.**

I’m still recruiting bands. The roster is 17-19 strong right now. My ideal is 25 and I probably could hit it with a bit more time, but probably won’t, considering.

It’s happening between 2-8 PM next Saturday, the 18th, at various locations. The schedule will be put into the map on the website pretty soon.

And that’s it.


Press Release on the Big Busk 2010:

Taking It To The Streets: The 2010 Big Busk
Buskers Do It On The Streets: The 2010 Big Busk

The Big Busk is a new music festival for downtown Portland. Last year nineteen bands played for over seven hours in scattered spots around downtown. This year’s Big Busk promises to be even better. The lineup expands almost daily with bands ranging from solo singer-songwriters on ukuleles to a nine-headed alt-folk leviathan.

The idea behind the event is, for an entire afternoon, to saturate downtown with music. All kinds of music. There is no main stage, but every corner is a stage. There is no one audience, but everyone is the audience. There is no admission fee, but we trust attendees tip generously.

So it’s kind of an experiment. It’s also kind of an art project and a tongue-in-cheek celebration of creative defiance. Good music for tough times.

For information on how to take part in this year’s Big Busk, contact [email protected] Interested in attending? More information can be found at

**Apparently it did.

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3 Responses to Free Downtown Concert(s): The Big Busk Returns To Portland This Saturday

  1. sara mann July 16, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    where does this start and stop???? I get it’s downtown; but what’s a good beginning point???

    • Elizabeth Wisler July 17, 2010 at 2:58 am #

      The Allegro Elite Duo (virtual accordion and violin) will play at the corners of 4th and Yamhill from 6pm to 7pm and at 6th and Yamhill from 7pm to 8pm.

      The majority of performers will be from 2pm to 8pm along Yamhill and Morrison Streets from 10th Avenue through 3rd Street. Every hour will be a different performer on the street corners inclusive of these streets and avenues.

      Check out for map and performers.

      See you there!

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