Jefferson Pointe Presents: Busker Nights

Jun 13, 2017

Jefferson Pointe has hosted many events over the years since opening in August of 2001. Every summer shoppers can hear music from live bands on Friday nights. Now, Tuesday nights bring a different set of attractions. WBOI’s Ben Clemmer reports.

Every Tuesday from now until August 29th will be Busker Night at Jefferson Pointe. But what is a busker?

“Acoustic acts with stilt walkers, fire breathers, mimes, and jugglers, and palm readers, and just a little bit of a different feel. We were hoping to get 13 performers and we wound up with well over fifty performers.”

That’s Katrina Newman, Marketing and Business Development Manager for Asset Services in Fort Wayne. She’s helped organize the busker nights which will provide a space for a variety of street performers and entertainers all over the shopping plaza.

I found Jess Thrower, playing guitar. She’s one of tonight’s acoustic performers. A small crowd has stopped to listen and a couple kids put some money in Thrower’s guitar case. She’s an experienced performer, though new to busking.

I also sat down with Rowan Greene who has been performing since he learned to juggle over a decade ago. He’s been busking for years and tells me what potential buskers should know going in.  

“You should go out to the place that you find the most people you have never met before, and play the thing you are least good at, over and over again until you are comfortable messing up in front of people. And then, you can find a center of being comfortable doing what you’re good at. Lead with what you’re not, then your comfort zone will expand and you’ll be able to find your flow.”

Thrower and Greene aren’t the only experienced performer at Jefferson Pointe for the first Busker Night. Lauren Tourkow is artistic director of Pyroscope Entertainment, which employs fire dancers, spinners, and flow artists. Pyroscope has been around for six years, but Tourkow’s family has been performing for much longer.

“My grandfather was in Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus because he was a foot juggler.”

A couple of the fire spinners from Pyroscope will be performing at Busker Night on June 13th. Tourkow will be lighting up Jefferson Pointe later this summer.

“Something that wows the crowd, that is so unique and different that people just look and a stunned. If a busker can create that type of reaction, then you know you are doing the right thing.”

Jacob Ganser of Tag Art Company lends his services to Busker Night as a palm reader.
Credit Ben Clemmer

Troy Ganser of Tag Art Company performs on stilts during the first Busker Night.
Credit Jacob Ganser

As we finish our conversation, a family walks by. Two of the members are around eight feet tall. They have to duck to get through the main entrance of Rosati’s Pizza. That’s because they’re on stilts. Troy Ganser and his sons Michael and Jacob are here representing Tag Art Company, based in New Haven. I talk with Jacob Ganser, and you can hear the sound of his brother’s stilts in the background.

“Our company usually specializes in bringing entertainment to certain places, so sometimes that’s something as small as balloon art and face painting, that’s not really busking, but every now and then you’ll get the occasional stilt walker or costumed character that’s just walking around downtown Fort Wayne.”

The Ganser brothers join their dad by the fountain. Troy Ganser tells me more about Tag’s plan to support Busker Nights moving forward.

“We should have some form of talent every week. Every Busker Night at Jefferson Point.”

Tag Art Company will be providing stilt walkers, mimes, and many other entertainers every Busker Night until the end of August. You can find the whole story at WBOI.org.

For WBOI News, I’m Ben Clemmer.