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Comedian Mark Thomas joins kazoo-led orchestra to protest licensing of buskers

PUBLISHED: 18:00 16 October 2013

Mark Thomas hands out leaflets about Camden's proposed new busking laws with the Citzen's Kazoo Orchestra in Camden Town. Picture: Polly Hancock

Mark Thomas hands out leaflets about Camden's proposed new busking laws with the Citzen's Kazoo Orchestra in Camden Town. Picture: Polly Hancock

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A protest kazoo orchestra held its very first performance on Monday as it rallied against a proposal by Camden Council to force buskers to pay for a licence.

Buskers, professional musicians and bystanders joined forces to form the 60-strong Citizens’ Kazoo Orchestra, performing kazoo-led renditions of The Beatles’ All You Need is Love and the theme tune from the 1963 film The Great Escape.

The three-hour protest in Camden High Street, supported by comedian Mark Thomas, highlighted what organisers call a “draconian” licensing proposal that could see unlicensed buskers fined up to £1,000 and have their instruments confiscated.

The kazoo was the group’s instrument of choice because it is cheap to replace if confiscated.

Mr Thomas said: “The council might call this a licence but it is a tax on spontaneity, creativity and the ethos of having a go.”

The council said it faced an “escalating number of complaints from local residents regarding disruptive busking”.

A petition opposing the proposals has now gained more than 2,700 signatures.


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