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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Buskers

Take a virtual transit music break: Fridays at noon on our Facebook page

Musicians have been providing SkyTrain customers with music and entertainment since Expo ’86, performing at 11 stations along Expo and Canada Lines. The start of COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to performances, so we’re bringing some of your favourites from your commute into your home. This month, give yourself a break and tune in to TransLink’s Facebook page every Friday at 12:00 pm to enjoy an online edition of TransLink’s Musicians Program.

Each musician will perform a 10-to-15-minute set during the stream. In lieu of tips, please consider a donation to the local initiative of your choice to support the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Here is the lineup for this month’s performances:


Week 1 (May 8) 

Stephen Thakkar

Genre: Indie Folk 

Hailing from Oakville, Ontario, this young singer songwriter is just beginning to launch his career. His smooth vocals and high energy compliment his authenticity, creating a heartfelt and inviting experience. 

Follow on Instagram








Week 2 (May 15)

Luifox Gutierrez & Alma Chevere World Latin Band 

Genre: latin pop, romantic ballads, rumbas, rock, salsa, reggae, zouk and flamenco Chill

LuiFox from Alma Chevere World Latin Band is a singer-songwriter and a multi-talented artist with experience in the performing arts as a Salsa dancer. Born in Venezuela with a musical family background, playing professionally over 20 years, creating compositions that are lyrical masterpieces of romance, passions, travels and the powerful emotions every immigrant feels when settling into a new life. The diversity of topics makes it easy for the audiences to connect with the music. Since 2009 LuiFox has been performing with his band “Alma Chevere” as well as as a solo artist.

Visit the band’s website





Week 3 (May 22)

Caroline Olsen 

Genre: Classical and folk music

Classically-trained violist Caroline Olsen is equally at home performing with a symphony orchestra in a concert hall or a cover band at the local pub. Join her for an uplifting programme of classical and folk music adapted for solo viola. 





Apply to become TransLink Musician

You can find performing musician in almost every major city around the world. They animate corners of our streets and through their performances help us discover different genres, styles and instruments. These performers are like urban conductors, setting the tempo and mood for our city lives. Whether we are hurrying to catch a bus or get to our end destinations, catchy beats or familiar melodies encourage us to slow down and spend more time in our public spaces.

Are you a musician interested to showcase your talent and gain more practice? Apply to TransLink’s Musicians Program – sometimes referred to our busker program. It provides the opportunity for registered musicians to perform at approved SkyTrain stations, playing a variety of instruments and styles.

Each year TransLink holds annual auditions to select new musicians. Aspiring performers participate in “So You Think You Can Busk?”, an American Idol-style audition. Both single and duo performers are welcomed. Successful musicians are issued a license valid for two years. This year auditions will take place in the online format. Learn more here.


So you think you can busk?! 2017

Above is a video from the 2011 busker auditions!

Do you have what it takes to be a TransLink busker?! If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place! We are holding auditions on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 for new buskers in 2018.

Read more »

Meet the Buskers: Desirée

We have a very special busker profile for you today!

Not only is Desirée Dawson one of the TransLink Buskers and has been for a few years, but she is also the winner of the CBC Music’s Searchlight’s top prize this year!

Enjoying a fairly busy and exciting time, we were lucky enough to grab Desirée for a few moments to discuss her music and her experiences as a busker and her plans for the future!

How long have you been playing music/singing?

I’ve been singing my whole life.. literally since I was a baby haha.  I’ve been playing the Baritone ukulele for three years now.

What training do you have?

I took singing and piano lessons for a little bit when I was really young! Ukulele is self-taught! 

What instruments do you play?

Piano, Baritone Ukulele, Sansula.

What  do like about busking?

I like connecting with others and spreading some musical medicine to people as they go about their daily tasks!

Do you have any funny stories from your busking experiences you want to share?

I always think its SO cool and funny how dogs react to busking. They sometimes just stand there mesmerized, usually looking at my amp, shifting their cute little heads from side to side wondering what the heck is going on in that box.

Tell us about participating in the CBC Music Spotlight competition – what made you want to compete? And you won! What does that feel like? What does it mean for your musical career?

Its been a wild journey! Everything seems to have happened so quickly and all at once, but at the same time I’ve been working at this for years so its really such a proud moment for myself.

I really want to get my music out to the world, to connect with others, to grow and learn more and more! This competition has helped me already, in so many ways with that! The fact that my daily tasks seem to be 90% just connecting with people, sharing and learning to enhance the music I create, is really amazing to me! I’m forever grateful for the wonderful experience.

Coming up, I will be recording my first EP in Toronto at Metalworks studios! Once that is done, I imagine I can finally live my dream of going on tour!

What can passengers/passerbys expect when they catch you performing on the system?

I am not one who dances around, puts on a upbeat show necessarily. I just act as ambiance for passerby’s.  I aim to enhance the quality of peoples day casually and subtly, in the background.  I like to be peoples personal theme music haha!!

Ok, it’s hard, I know, but I ask everyone! What is your favourite song? Favourite band/artist?

Very hard. I do not have a favourite at all. This question always gives me anxiety because I always end up re-reading interviews being like “HOW COULD I FORGET TO SAY ________”.  I will just say that I really love Lianne La Havas and Leon Bridges a wholllllllee lot!

What does the future hold for superstar busker, Desirée?

Music, music and more music.  Busking, busking and more busking, loving, loving and more loving!

Advice for those interested in the busker program?

Be so truly you that people can’t help but feel the heart and dedication in your music. You can do it!!!

Looking for more Desirée? Check out her interview with Shad from CBC’s q.

If you feel like you could be the next busking sensation, you can learn more about the TransLink Busker Program and audition for next year!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Meet the Buskers: Roland

We’re back again with a new profile on our series “Meet the TransLink Buskers!”

Last time we met the multi-talented Amine and today we present a showman for all showmen, saxophonist, Roland!

Roland is no ordinary sax player… if there is such a thing!

Oh sure, he’ll start off playing like you’d expect but the next thing you know the sax is above his head, behind his back, taken apart, played and put back together again!

He certainly loves what he does and we love to listen and watch him perform!

Why did you decide to become a TransLink busker?

I decided to stop playing in nightclubs and I wanted something to do in my spare time. I heard about the program and thought it would be great to play for some groups of people passing by you at the stations. I enjoy meeting people from all walks of life, it has been so enjoyable for me to entertain in this way.

How long has music been a part of your life?

I have been playing for many years and have played with some of the best entertainers around. I am self taught and play by ear. I believe my good ear is a God given talent.

Asking the tough questions… favourite style of music/favourite song?

I loved all different genres in music, but my favourite is blues. My all time favourite song is Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.

What can riders passing by expect from your set?

They’re going to hear some great music from a great entertainer, I hope! I always get a good reaction from the crowds of people.

Stay tuned to the Buzzer blog for more busker fun in the coming months as we profile other artists in the program!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Meet the TransLink Buskers: Amine

We’re back for another installment of Meet the TransLink Buskers; the new series where we interview and profile your favourite SkyTrain station busking musicians!

Last time we met Nikita and today, classically trained string instrument aficionado, Amine Bouzaher is in the hot seat!

Let’s find out what makes this incredible musician tick!

What do you like about Busking?

I’ve been busking for a years now, starting out at Granville Island doing the indoor acoustic thing. When I found out I could play in high-trafficked transit locations that was enough for me to audition. I love people’s reactions when they really connect with your music, especially when people actually stop and turn around in the middle of a busy day.

How many years have you been playing music?

I’ve been playing music since I was a kid, when my parents paid for piano lessons while I lived in Egypt. It’s pretty funny because my parents never really even played musical instruments or listened to much music that I remember. The first cds they got me were when I was 15, Godsmack, Britney Spears and 50 Cent, quite the combo package… I play violin, guitar, keys, bass and general percussion, all at the same time with a loop pedal when I play gigs actually!

What is your favourite type of music to play? And how about to listen to?

I will listen to almost anything, but I’m not a fan of overly-poppy music, or really heavy bass music that has no melody. These days I’m loving the future bass sound, especially artists like NoMBe, or similarly soully hip-hop inspired tunes like Tom Misch produces. I also really love atmospheric, cinematic music like some of Hans Zimmer and Nikolas Frahm’s movie scores. Oh, and I can’t forget some of the amazing music that is being produced by Japanese producers like Dasuke Tatanabe and Yosi Horikaw!.

All-time favourite song? (I love asking this one!)

Wow. That’s like asking me which sibling is my favourite…(my brother). I think the only way to answer that question, because my taste changes all the time, is to mention the first really good down-tempo song that blew my mind and got me on the musical thought-train I’m on now…Bonobo’s “Days to Come” feat. Andrea Triana.

What can riders passing by expect to hear/see as you perform?

Smiles. A lanky, curly-haired goof-trooper who’s probably shoe-gazing pretty hard. And a lot of looped violin : )

If you see me/hear me playing don’t hesitate to stop and ask questions, I can usually just sit back and let the looper do it’s thing; I always have time for a chat!

What are you up to music-wise beyond busking?

I’m working on an EP produced right at home in my own office-room-conversion studio. Most of the songs are found-sound beats with live-instrumentation and a bunch of keys/synths/basses and such.

Be sure to head on over to SoundCloud to listen to some of Amine’s music!

Stay tuned to the Buzzer blog for more busker fun in the coming months as we profile other artists in the program!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Meet the TransLink Buskers: Nikita

Sure, you’ve seen (or heard!) the buskers around the system, but I want to know more! Don’t you??

Nikita Afonso Promo Photo

Best of the Okanagan 2015: Best Local Musician winner and TransLink busker, Nikita Afonso

Where do they come from? How did they get into music? Why do they want to be a part of the TransLink Busker Program? And so much more!

These burning questions leads us into a new series on the blog where we interview and profile your favourite SkyTrain station buskers!

First up is Nikita Afonso.

When I heard Nikita in the auditions, I was impressed by not only her talent but her experience at such a young age!

She’s had two CDs, shared the stage with Keith Urban (um, megastar anyone?) and was voted South Okanagan Best Local Musician for 2015.

What made you want to audition for the busker program?

Throughout high school I used to busk every Saturday morning at the local farmers market in the Okanagan. Busking is a great, relaxed way for me to share music and hopefully as some joy to those passing by, and it is also a great way to meet new people.

How many years have you been playing music/singing?

I have been singing and playing guitar for almost seven years. I first started with an all-girl band when I was in elementary school. Being the only one with a true passion to continue after a couple years with the band, I then took private singing and guitar lessons to learn more about my craft and also songwriting, which I love! I started performing around town at local coffee shops which then snowballed into festivals and more.

What is your favourite type of music/artist/band to play?

My favourite artists to listen to and cover right now are Miranda Lambert and Joni Mitchell. I love their songwriting and their melodies are so catchy and beautiful.

All-time favourite song? (It’s a tough one, I know!)

This IS a tough one… I would have to say A Case of You by Joni Mitchel. I don’t think I will ever get sick of that song.

What can riders passing by your busker location expect to hear and see as you perform?

Those taking the trains can expect to hear lots of familiar covers ranging from The Beatles to Johnny Cash to TLC and also current top 40 hits from Ed Sheeran to Miranda Lambert.  I will also be mixing in some fun, upbeat originals songs!

Be sure to check out Nikita’s YouTube channel to see much more of her musical talent!

Stay tuned to the Buzzer blog for more busker fun in the coming months as we profile other artists in the program!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Buskers strum their stuff during auditions!

Buskers 2015 judges

So much talent at this year’s Busker auditions!

Last week, our annual busker auditions took place at TransLink’s head office in New Westminster and it was a day full of extremely talented musicians!

Musicians have been part of the transit culture in Metro Vancouver since 1986.

The music really helps to create welcoming public spaces for riders on the system and surrounding communities.

There were nearly 50 musicians vying for one of available licenses to busk at SkyTrain stations.

They performed for a panel of three judges  who were treated to a variety of performances!

From instrumental classical violinists to pop-cover accordionists, everyone had something a little different to bring to the stage.

Thanks to all the musicians that came out to perform!

Stay tuned to our Instagram account for quick
15-second snippets of some of the auditions!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Last call for Busker audition applicants!

Duo performance

A duo performance from the 2013 auditions

Calling all musicians, performers, maestros, twangers, crooners and songsters!

TransLink’s Busker Program is back in action for its 29th year and the last day to submit an application for an audition is this Thursday, November 12!

Don’t miss out! Due to the limited number of audition slots applicants must complete and submit the following:

Auditions are taking place on Thursday, November 26, 2015.

We thank all applicants for their interest, but only those selected to audition will be contacted. Successful applicants will be notified of their audition time by November 20, 2015.

Notes for the 2016 Program:

Those selected for the 2016 program will be notified within a week following the November 26, 2015 auditions and are required to complete the following:

  • Attend the MANDATORY meeting on December 17, 2015, from 1 p.m. to
    2 p.m., where the Program will be explained in more detail and licenses distributed.
  • Submit a criminal record check.
  • Sign the TransLink Musicians License and guidelines.
  • Pay the $75.00 TransLink Busker License fee (cash or cheque made out to “TransLink”).

Author: Adrienne Coling

So You Think You Can Busk? 2014 – A day full of talented musicians!


Our esteemed panel of 'So You Think You Can Busk?' judges!

Our esteemed panel of ‘So You Think You Can Busk?’ judges!

Our annual “So You Think You Can Busk” auditions took place on Wednesday, December 10 at TransLink’s head office in New Westminster and it was a day full of talented musicians!

In total, there were 32 musicians vying for one of seven available licenses to busk at one of six SkyTrain stations. They performed for a panel of three judges – TransLink’s own Colleen Brennan, VP of Communications and Customer Engagement;  Jacey Gibb, Editor-in-Chief of Discorder Magazine; and Lisa Christiansen, Traffic and Arts Reporter, CBC Radio One.

The judges were treated to a variety of performances from instrumentals, covers and original music to the acoustic guitar, the ukulele and harmonica. What about the handpan, Tibetan singing bowls and Caribbean steel pans? Yup, they heard those too! What are they? You’ll have to watch the audition footage to find out!

Check out our Instagram account for quick 15-second snippets of some of the performances. Judge and on-air personality Lisa Christiansen did a radio piece on the day (you’ll want to listen to the December 11, 2014 recording at around 32:25). We have posted all the auditions to the Buzzer blog YouTube channel too.

Thanks to all the musicians that came out to perform! The sights and sounds of musicians have been part of the transit culture in Metro Vancouver since 1986. Their music helps to create welcoming public spaces for customers and surrounding communities.

Watch all the auditions!


Author: Allen Tung

So You Think You Can Busk? We want to hear you at our 2014 busker auditions!


Duo performance

A duo auditioning at last year’s So You Think You Can Busk? 

Attention all buskers! TransLink will be holding our annual busker auditions at our head office next to Sapperton Station on December 10!

For 28 years, buskers have been part of the culture of transit in Metro Vancouver. Expo ’86 brought an influx of street performers and it was deemed busking performers would make a nice addition to the SkyTrain system. We’re so happy is was!

Since then, musicians of every ilk have provided riders with entertainment and a soundtrack to their travels. Buskers help make the six SkyTrain stations in downtown Vancouver more vibrant adding a bit of music to the environment.

Every year, licenses open up for new buskers to join seasoned veterans already playing on the system. Interested in busking on the system? Think you got what it takes?

All you need to do is fill out the application form and submit it in-person to TransLink’s head office at 400 – 287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster, BC by December 3, 2014 to enter the audition process.

Once applications are submitted, qualified buskers will be invited to audition on Wednesday, December 10 from 10 am to 4 pm.


When: Wednesday, December 10 from 10 am to 4 pm
Where: TransLink Head Office, 400 – 287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster, BC

Successful candidates will be offered a license to perform at select stations, located primarily in the downtown core for one year from January to December 2015.

Audition spots are on a limited first-come-first serve basis; once filled, no further applications will be accepted. Successful candidates will be required to attend a mandatory licensing session soon after auditioning. New licenses will take effect January 1, 2015. Cost for the annual license is $ 75.00.

Last year, eight busker licenses were up for grabs and we had nearly 50 musicians apply to audition. Click here to see what happened!

Author: Allen Tung

So You Think You Can Busk? – and the winner is Patrick Jolicoeur!



The online vote to pick the eighth and final transit busker license for 2014 is now complete! All four candidates really rallied their troops to get the vote out, but in the end Patrick Jolicoeur was the winner of the eighth and final transit busker license with 34% of the vote!

We’d like to thank all the buskers who came out for the auditions. Now watch out and listen up for Patrick and the other seven successful musicians on the system in the new year!

For those who haven’t watched it yet, here’s Patrick’s winner audition!

So You Think You Can Busk? – Vote for who busks on the transit system!



UPDATE: The voting is now complete and Patrick Jolicoeur is the winner of the eighth and final transit busker license for 2014 with 34% of the vote!

We’d like to thank all the buskers who came out for the auditions. Now watch out and listen up for Patrick and the other seven successful musicians on the system in the new year!

For those who haven’t wanted it yet, here’s Patrick’s winner audition!

Previously… It’s time to help TransLink choose the eighth and final busker license this year. Yesterday, we held our annual busker licenses auditions, So You Think You Can Busk? This morning we contacted the seven successful musicians who will be busking on the system starting in 2014. The winning buskers include musicians who play guitar, tamboa and harmonica.

Our panel of amazing judges also chose four candidates who will compete for the eighth and final busker license. Now it’s your turn to be the judge and pick which one of these four candidates will be the successful busker to play on the system!

Videos of each of the four candidates’ auditions were taken and are posted below. Take a look, enjoy the music, and vote for which musician you would like to see perform at six different transit locations in Vancouver! Those station include: Waterfront (Howe Street entrance and SkyWalk), Burrard, Granville, Vancouver City Centre and Commercial-Broadway.

This public vote is open between December 5 to 15, 2013. The busker with the most votes will be announced on December 16, 2013. I’ll do my best to update the blog throughout the competition with the results.

When you’re watching the videos: It’s good to think about what the atmosphere is in these stations during morning/evening rush hour periods as well as slower periods on the system when you’re considering who to vote for. Would you like to hear certain things when it’s busy? What would you like to hear on a Sunday afternoon on the system?

Now, enjoy the show, and get voting!

*note: Buskers had roughly three minutes to perform. Some buskers interacted with our judges which made for different auditions lengths.

Who's your favourite busker?

  • Patrick (34%, 3,913 Votes)
  • Connor (24%, 2,738 Votes)
  • Jessica and Hugh (22%, 2,523 Votes)
  • Jovana and Tobias (19%, 2,173 Votes)

Total Voters: 11,365

Connor Kelly

Patrick Jolicoeur

Jessica Malihot and Hugh Barbour

Jovana Golubovic and Tobias Oliveira

So You Think You Can Busk? – What a Day!

Wow! A whirlwind of a day is over, but the fun has just begun! If you weren’t following #sytycb on Twitter and Instagram, below are some shots of the day that Angela C took. Thanks Angela!

Tomorrow is the big day for the start of the public vote that will decide the eighth and final TransLink busking license. I’ll be posting the videos we shot of the four candidates, so that between Dec 5 to 15, readers of the blog can vote for who they think should be busking on the transit system.

We can’t wait for you to see them!

Today is… So You Think You Can Busk?




Today is the big day for So You Think You Can Busk?

After preparing all morning, we are looking forward to see all the performances from Metro Vancouver’s talented buskers.

Aside from TransLink’s Cindy Bromley, Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations, we are also expecting a few guest panelists to be our judges today!

Aamer Haleem, co-host of CTV Morning Live

Jonny Staub, co-host of The Beat 94.5 FM’s morning show

Kenneth Chan, Deputy Editor and Social Media Coordinator with Vancity Buzz.

The four judges will decide who will successfully audition for the first seven busker licenses. Stay tuned – we’ll be announcing how you can cast your vote in deciding which busker should get the eighth and final license!

TransLink So You Think You Can Busk 2013

All set up and ready to go!

Author: Angela Chang

TransLink’s 2013 busker auditions start tomorrow!

SYTYCB2013All the busker applications are in, and we have a full house for TransLink’s annual busker competition So You Think You Can Busk? tomorrow! In the two-week call for audition applications, we had nearly 50 musicians apply. These musicians will compete for eight coveted one-year TransLink busker licenses.

The 2013 So You Think You Can Busk Judges:

This year, we’re adding some guest panelists to join TransLink’s Cindy Bromley, Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations. They are:

Aamer Haleem, co-host of CTV Morning Live

Jonny Staub, co-host of The Beat 94.5 FM’s morning show

Kenneth Chan, Deputy Editor and Social Media Coordinator with Vancity Buzz.

Seven buskers licenses are awarded, and buzzer readers pick the winner of the eighth!

We’re changing things up this year! Our four judges will be scoring the buskers throughout the day tomorrow. After the event finishes around 4 p.m., they’ll huddle in a room determining who will win seven of the licenses.

Who wins the final license to busk? That will be up to readers of the blog! After the judges choose the seven license winners, they’ll identify four candidates to compete for the final license. We’ll be videotaping all the buskers during the auditions. On Thursday, December 5, we’ll post the auditions of the four final candidates on the blog so readers can cast their votes!

Check the blog on Thursday, and vote on who you think deserves to busk on the system! You’ll also want to watch the blog, The Buzzer Twitter channel and the TransLink Facebook page tomorrow because we’ll be posting audition updates throughout the day. Oh, and here’s the news release. This is going to be fun!