Busker joins Kanye West at US festival

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A Preston busker has revealed how a chance meeting has led to him joining a bill with rap superstar Kanye West.

Graham Farnworth, a former Broughton High School pupil from Fulwood, was jamming with a friend on-board his London houseboat, when a team from Budweiser searching for the world’s top street performers, stumbled across him.

'Graham Farnworth was speaking to LEP as part of Budweiser's 'Made Underground' series to create the ultimate band of street performers from around the world'  Graham in red/pink striped shirt

'Graham Farnworth was speaking to LEP as part of Budweiser's 'Made Underground' series to create the ultimate band of street performers from around the world' Graham in red/pink striped shirt

The team, including Jamie N Commons, a British folk musician and Brooklyn-based four-piece band, X Ambassadors, had been scouring the streets and subways of London, Rio de Janeiro, New York and Philadelphia to find unsung talents of global music.

The lucky few will be put together to re-record X Ambassadors’s song Jungle at the Budweiser Made in America festival, an event founded by rapper Jay-Z which takes place on August 30 and 31 in Los Angeles. They will take to the same stage as the likes of Kanye West, chart topper Rita Ora and US singer-songwriter John Mayer in front of 50,000 people.

Graham, 27, said: “They’d visited some of the more popular busking hotspots like the South Bank, and decided to walk down the canal, because there’s quite a thriving music scene.

“I was on the boat playing some blues with my friend Joe - he was playing the harmonica, and I was playing guitar - and the guys stopped to talk.

“They decided to offer us the chance to go to LA, and it was unbelievable.

“All the time when you’re busking people come up to you and offer you things, and 90 per cent of the time it comes to nothing, but sometimes it can be really good - and this is one of the best.

“It’s really exciting. I don’t know who the other buskers are going to be, but it’ll be great to be up on the stage with them performing Jungle.

“I’ve played at very busy locations, but I’ve never performed in front of so many people all at the same time.

“There’s no plans for afterwards, but you never know, we might be super-productive and start something else.”

Graham, who has lived in London since enrolling on a music degree course at Goldsmiths College aged 18, began to busk as “a natural progression”.

He said: “I finished uni and I had a music degree, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.

“I didn’t want to teach, so I started playing in markets around London and it’s taken off from there. It’s a great way of meeting musicians and a great platform to music - you get people coming up to you and responding.

“I mostly play national guitar - a metal guitar with a cone in it. It’s a very traditional instrument and it’s got a lot of character. It’s got a very Americana sound, and people really resonate with it.

“It’s also really resilient. It’s not going to damage easily if people throw a stone at you!

“When you’re busking, you’re putting yourself out there, you’re not standing, waiting.

“A lot of people give gifts and say it’s made their day, but you do also get lunatics coming out, screaming at you.”

It’s not the first time Graham has been picked up through his busking. He has just finished a 12-month theatre show contract based on meeting people through busking.

Graham has no plans to return to the north to busk any time soon, but believes it could be quite profitable.

He said: “I’ve actually never busked in Preston, but it might be quite good. I’ve done well when I performed in other places in the north like Liverpool and York.

“I don’t think it’s the wealth of a place that dictates how much you are given, it’s more to do with the people.”