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Busking Joe: Saving for a Tour Van Documentary Film Review


Written & Directed by: #AlexBrindle #LewisBrindle

Starring: #JoeySwindells

Documentary Film Review by: #ChrisBuick


The busking life might sound simple, you set up, you play for a bit, you go home, hopefully with more cash than you started with. But after watching Busking Joe: Saving for a Tour Van, you’ll realise that its anything but in what might just be one of the most inspiring and uplifting rock and roll stories of recent times.

Joey Swindells aka Busking Joe is a street drummer and a pretty damn good one at that, busking whenever and wherever he can with the hopes of finally saving enough money to afford the van of his dreams so he can take himself and his music to even bigger and farther places. In this half hour lesson from filmmakers Alex and Lewis Brindle in doing what it takes to do what you love, we join Joe in his red Suzuki as he embarks on his glamourous tour of Blackpool, Scarborough, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Manchester, with each day and gig hopefully edging himself a bit closer to that dream van of freedom.

"Can’t fix it with duct tape, not using enough duct tape."

Okay, maybe it’s not rock and roll in the traditional sense, the only vices that Joe has stashed in his patched-up bass drum is some bottled water, deodorant and a packet of hay fever tablets. But once Busking Joe: Saving for a Tour Van is all said and done, many would be hard pushed to see Joe as anything other than a bona fide legend, not just as a musician but as a person. Joe is resourceful, efficient, determined but above all else, infinitely likeable, his enthusiasm for what he does completely infectious which makes him the perfect subject to root for. Every day presents him with a new challenge, such a broken bass pedal or serious impalement, but each time he picks himself up and dusts himself off with a smile and turn of phrase that makes you simply want to step through the screen, drop him a couple of quid and dance to his beat.

"Pennies make pounds"

But as effortless as it is to like Joe, the way in which the Brindle Twins present their subject, not just in his playing prime but also in his more serious and heartfelt moments, is really commendable. Moments of narration where Joe reflects on his childhood and musical beginnings, not to mention a surprisingly impactful closing monologue, really honour their protagonist while also preventing the film from ever feeling repetitive. It would have probably been enough for the Brindles to simply point the camera at Joe and let him do his thing, but what’s really special is the way that the film manages to not just capture the magic Joe creates, but make us feel part of it too and as countless people spill out of concerts to then rave to Joe’s beats, the film puts us right in the middle to enjoy the party.

Funny, heart-warming, inspirational, the superlatives go on and on. All that is left is to leave you with the immortal words of Busking Joe himself.

"You can butter toast with a spoon."

Watch the trailer here:


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