Archive for Friday, August 23, 2013

World-renowned performers wow downtown Lawrence

August 23, 2013


Fire-eaters, contortionists, musicians, magicians and countless other novelty acts transfixed thousands of onlookers in downtown Lawrence Friday night, as the sixth annual Busker Festival got underway.

Massachusetts Street regularly plays host to a variety of street performers, but only once a year does it come alive with renowned performing artists from across the country. With the scent of funnel cakes wafting through the air, downtown Lawrence is being transformed into a circus sideshow for the weekend.

Hundreds of people lined 8th Street Friday night, turning the block into a lively stage for one inspirational diva, Linsey Lindberg — known by her fans as “Mama Lou Strong Woman.” She tore phonebooks in half with ease and folded frying pans as if they were tortillas. Some children, too short to see behind four rows of standing adults, climbed on top of a nearby dumpster just to catch a glimpse of her incredible act.

“I love the immediacy and presence of performing on the street,” Lindberg said. “When you’re good like every performer here tonight, you connect with the audience all around you. I feel like I’m just standing in the center with all these strings extended out around me.”

After her performance, little girls and boys flexed their muscles for Mama Lou while their parents gave her compliments and $5 tips. A life-size wooden Mama Lou stood in the corner of the makeshift stage, and people of all ages popped their face through the cutout hole to add their heads to a picture of Mama Lou's body.

The crowd came to be entertained, but they left inspired by the woman who is more than just a captivating entertainer; she sees herself as a role model.

“Little girls want to look up to someone who is Barbie-pretty, but also doesn’t take sass from any man,” Lindberg said. “But little boys love Mama Lou, too. I feel like I’m changing a generation of young men, because when they see me, they believe that women are strong and they won’t forget it.”

A block away, on 7th Street, drummer Peter Rabbit rapidly beat his bright orange Home Depot buckets for a large crowd. Rabbit says the crowd’s reaction is a key reason he performs.

“It’s not about the money for me,” Rabbit said. “It’s about inspiring other artists everywhere.”

Rabbit has come a long way from his time drumming on the streets of New York City. At the age of 5, his brother set him up with a bucket and a drumstick on a corner in Times Square. He never looked back.

“It kept me out of trouble and it has brought me all over the world,” said Rabbit, now 28. “I’ve performed with Kanye West and been on Broadway, but I would do it in a basement if I had to.”

Rabbit has performed in the brightest of spotlights across the nation and throughout the world, but he says he has grown a strong appreciation for busker festivals over the past few years.

“There are a lot in Europe, but there are not too many in North America,” Rabbit said. “I could have been in Germany this week, but I came here to support the United States and build reputation for busker fests. If Kansas can have one, New York or Los Angeles can too."

Lindberg, a Kansas native who has taken her act to busker festivals from Singapore to Iceland, says the spirit of Lawrence’s audience is magical.

“It shocks me," she said. "I’m humbled by all the love that happens here.”

You can catch Mama Lou Strongwoman, Peter Rabbit and other world-renowned performers at the Busker Festival today from 2 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For a complete schedule of performance times, visit


Jillian Andrews 4 years, 10 months ago

I've seen Mama Lou perform before. She's awesome! I wish my eight-year-old daughter could see her and see what women can do. Amazing!

hiphopsux 4 years, 10 months ago

Saw both of these acts last night, truly amazing. The best thing Lawrence does every year- Buskerfest rules!

patkindle 4 years, 10 months ago

I believe buskers were originally hired by store keepers to attract customers into their stores. I guess today this provides entertainment for downtown Lawrence///////// ...I just hope we are not just teaching the kids it is cool to beg for money on the street

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

These people were not begging. They entertained, and people paid them for the fun. How judgmental can you get. Or are you jealous that you are stuck in a 9-5?

homeontherange 4 years, 10 months ago

Tried to enjoy some quality time with my daughter at buskerfest this afternoon only to find out I received a $55 ticket for backing in a parking stall in the lot south of city hall. I agree, now that I searched the lot, that it is signed "no back in parking". It is easier to back in a larger pickup than trying to pull straight in. If I saw the sign I would never have backed in. I was busy driving carefully when entering the lot, trying not to run over any buskers. Why is this lot signed to not back in? I hope to find out at 8 AM Monday morning. Probably will not actually get an answer. Now that I plan to spend my dollars elsewhere, they got my money anyway. Good luck visitors, hope you have more fun than I.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 10 months ago

For all the parking and eye-sight problems they present to the rest of us, larger pickups probably ought to pay a yearly additional $100 or two to the city if they want to ever try to park downtown.

livetocook 4 years, 10 months ago

What about scooters or mopeds taking a parking spot? They are eye-sight problems.

Keith 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree, now that I searched the lot, that it is signed "no back in parking".

" Why is this lot signed to not back in?"

Probably because it makes it hard for the meter readers to get your license number when checking stalls.

akt2 4 years, 10 months ago

I think SUV's are a menace. You pretty much just have to say a prayer and inch out when you leave because there is no hope of actually seeing another vehicle or pedestrian coming.

Bob_Loblaw 4 years, 10 months ago

The spots on the streets right next to the parking lot entrances/exits should be compact cars only. You cannot see what's coming on the right and HAVE TO go almost all the way out. Either that or just make street parking in those areas compact only.

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