In 2018 the corporation of Kelowna, helmed by an insidious city council and man-child mayor, declared busking to be nothing more than noisy pan-handingly and tasked the criminal department of the city’s by-law offices to create new by-laws that all but completely outlawed the act. It was then that a beloved street performer would be catapulted to the centre of a massive, swelling backlash.
The community of Kelowna loved and cherished arts and culture in the downtown core. It had long been a source of pride for residents to boast about the robust culture and arts that were nearly ever-present in the city. A hub for tourists, the town of Kelowna was apt for street performers, and a well oiled craftsman could eke out a decent living performing their talent for passersby. For some clouded and ill-informed reason, the stagnant city council thought this should be the focus of their attention and ire.
Officer Black was a bulldog of a by-law officer, often seen kicking and spiting on the homeless, and taunting individuals with tickets. He gained a wide reputation for his ruthless disrespect for the community and abuse of his powers. It was to no-one's surprise when Officer Black issued an outrageous by-law fine of $500.00 to a welcomed and well-received street performer. Sensing the injustice and having the courage to stand his ground, the street performer began recording the incident on his busking camera. The video was posted to social media and collected over 80 thousand views overnight. The story went viral. It had struck a chord with the community of Kelowna and beyond. Residents who were sick of bureaucrats encroaching on their personal freedoms used this as a catalyst to mobilize and voice their displeasure. The young performer went on to give interviews with TV stations, newspapers, and radio talk shows across Canada. Often the headlines read something like: “Kelowna Busker takes on City Council”
The nickname stuck, and Michael S.e Elliott became known as the Kelowna Busker.
The backlash worked, city council and the mayor were rightly embarrassed and rescinded the ticket and all the new by-laws pertaining to busking. Arts and culture at the street level were safe again…. For now.
Michael is not afraid to play the role of the outlaw when required, but the song performer would rather heal wounds than create them. Twenty years of performance experience lends itself to deeply crafted stories and songs of introspection, connection, and commitment. A great performance dares to risk vulnerability to pave a connection from artist to audience that allows a depth of empathy rarely experienced in our day-to-day. This is one of many special medicines' music offers us. It builds connection. This is Michael’s philosophy. It informs the singer’s work ethic and enthusiasm. It’s entranced in his intentions and buried in the songs. It is the corner stone of gratitude and the spark of every fond memory. Connection.
Michael’s music has been published, awarded, and well received, but it would be a shame to let someone else sell you on what music to enjoy. Better to hear for yourself: