THEY are a common sight on the streets of cities and towns, braving all weathers to perform on a grim stage such as a windswept corner or gloomy road underpass.

Performing with an upturned hat or laid-flat guitar case at their feet as the rest of us hurry past, they hope that sometimes folk will stop to give them a few coins for their musical efforts.  

But now, Glasgow-based Celtic Music Radio, a station run by music-loving volunteers, is giving buskers the chance to come in out of the cold to play to a worldwide audience.

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“In the tough world of the music business, it is difficult for acts to make themselves heard, to escape from the crowd and win or build an audience,” said chair of the Board of directors, Alex Jenkins.

“The buskers, through this set-up, can reach potentially up to   70,000 listeners via our FM, DAB and online output.”

Every Saturday evening, the two-hour Saturday Jam Session features sets from buskers, pre-recorded earlier in the week in the charity-status station’s Kinning Park studios.

The programme started in March this year and was thought up by station volunteers, Paul Lucas, and 18-year-old student, Matthew Gibb, who himself started busking at the age of 12 at the Braehead Shopping Centre, where he came to the attention of Paul, an operations manager there.

Both were aware of the talents of buskers and reckoned Celtic Music Radio, which is currently undertaking a new advertising and sponsorship drive, could offer them a platform.

“There is no doubt that the buskers really welcome the exposure and we have devised a show where they play and we have a chat with them on air, too,” said Paul. “The recording sessions are always fun and I think that is reflected when they are broadcast.”

Matthew, who is studying commercial music, agreed that the exposure for the musicians was extremely important. 

“The standards are exceptionally high,” he said. “The buskers – the youngest was twelve – all really enjoy themselves and welcome the chance from Celtic Music Radio to broadcast to the world, not just to a street audience. The show goes out internationally and at home so who knows who could be listening in.

“Paul and I are pleased to be involved in producing such a unique programme. 

“We like the technical challenges, the production and editing processes. But most of all it’s about putting the musicians, the busker guests, fully and properly in the radio spotlight.”

This week/last week, Maria McAveety was in the studios in Admiral Street to record a session, fresh from a successful day’s busking in Dundee.

The 20-year-old from Stepps, near Glasgow, is about to enter her final year studying English and History at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs in upstate New York.

She loves spending her summer months back in Scotland busking, something she’s done since she was 13.

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“Lots of people busk for a whole lot of different reasons and I always say I do it as it beats showing up on time for a real job,” said Maria, who can be found regularly playing in Glasgow’s Argyle Street near Debenham’s.

“Busking really is fun and I usually play for around four hours at a time, sometimes longer. It is competitive as well so I have to be up bright and early to get a good spot.”

Maria was impressed by the set-up and the warm welcome at Celtic Music Radio, and was really pleased to be a Saturday Jam Session performer.

“What the station is doing is so good, so fresh,” she said. “It’s great fun being here and I’m pleased that Paul, Matthew and the station gave me this chance. I think all buskers would be.”

One of Maria’s favourite musicians is former busker, Passenger, who was a studio guest in the early days of his career on Celtic Music Radio, which is on air 365 days a year – and its outside broadcasts include Celtic Connections, during which it produces more than 130 hours of programmes every year.

Alex Jenkins said the Saturday Jam Session is what the station is all about.

“We have a reputation for being a strong cultural voice for contemporary and traditional Scottish music, arts and culture, and all kinds of musical genres,” he said.

“We look to explore new frontiers in communication and broadcasting and that involves including people who do not have access to mainstream media.

“Our continual aim is provide an outlet for singers and songwriters, and musicians across a range of artistic disciplines and we are all about promoting Scottish undiscovered and emerging artists.

“The likes of Billy Bragg and even Bob Dylan started out as buskers so maybe the station, through programmes such as this, might discover a talent that could go on to have a successful and lucrative career in the music business