It was a windy and chilly day when a city employee recorded street musician, Bryson Andres shredding away on his electric violin earlier this year. The video, recorded in January, sparked a viral chain reaction online earning almost two million views and earning Andres a spot on radio stations and performance offers.
The performance was highlighted in a story published last week by The Spokesman-Review as they previewed the possible changes in the city’s noise ordinance. Andres performed frequently in front of Riverfront Park gaining audience, busking for cash and selling cds of his recordings.
“When I came to Spokane, there were hardly any performers on the streets,” Andres shared over the phone.
He traveled to Spokane after playing everywhere he could in Alaska. He wanted to broaden his horizons, but playing in Spokane almost made him stop. He found the support for his art lacking. And then a video of him performing One Republic was touched by internet magic, the unexplainable force behind viral videos.
“Before that video was taken, I was thinking about not playing out of state anymore. I was at a loss,” Andres said.
The video rallied unexpected attention from fans and supporters.
“As a street performer, I learned I’m not wasting my time. I’m inspiring others,” Andres said. “Having a viral video and more supporters and fans helped me see why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
Andres believes street performers are another way to inspire people without having them to pay to see something beautiful. Over the phone he expressed concerns with the the new city ordinance that focuses on enforcing the ordinance when noises are audible up to 100 feet away. Some musicians believe this targets amplified noise, a tool Andres used to increase the sound of his electric violin with a looping effect.
Tim Connor with the Center of Justice testified to city council that the new ordinance could open the city up to potential lawsuits. The required decibel readers that would be used in a court of law are priced at $2,000. Spokane Police major Frank Scalise says they meet the scientific standard of credibility. Since the new ordinance does not rely heavily on decibel readings, determining the levels of noise relies on one’s ears based on distance.
Now that the new ordinance passed, Andres isn’t so sure he’ll return to Spokane. While performing in town, he received only one complaint compared to the almost two million views on Youtube.
“I don’t understand why there isn’t rules in place like there is in other cities,” Andres explained. “With the current laws, anyone can get up there and play. If they’re not great, of course they’ll annoy.”
Andres recommended an audition process for permitting to allow quality musicians to perform on streets. He referenced cities like Los Angeles that require noise enforcers to carry decibel meters. Not only that, they have time limits on how long musicians can perform.
He disclosed in a phone interview that the outcome of the vote would heavily determine whether or not he returns, but since that conversation, he’s written on his Facebook: “We’ll see.”
Since January, his Spokane-based video introduced him to thousands of new listeners. He has an offer on the table to perform overseas for three months starting at the end of May.