Musicians join farmers at the Market

BERKELEY, Calif. — At the Downtown Berkeley Farmers’ Market, running now for 26 years, you can find vendors selling their fresh produce, shoppers browsing the merchandise — and musicians making music.

Berkeley Farmers' Market at Center St. on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way

Vendors line Center Street on Saturdays in downtown Berkeley. Photo by David Reardon

Some of the musicians have a bit of a story to tell. Gary Rosenberg, one of the performers at the market, has been doing exactly that for 10 years now. He says that he has a great time performing at the market, and he enjoys the applause that shoppers will sometimes give at the end of a song. He said there is a sign-up process for musicians wishing to perform in the marketplace, but there’s no audition. One could pretty much just walk right in and play.

Rosenberg said he enjoys playing”Puff, the Magic Dragon” for children: “I feel like I change their lives a little bit.”

Gary Rosenberg

Gary Rosenberg performs at the Market at Center and MLK streets in downtown Berkeley. Photo by Brian Vu

Another musician, who called herself Lazy Lili,  talked about one of the market’s Christmas seasons, where she was to perform onstage. On that particular day, it was raining heavily, but she was told to play anyway. She performed under a tarpfor a crowd of about 20. She said that when she performs on a regular day, shoppers will come and have conversations with her.

She also gave a detailed description of what a musician has to do in order to get a gig at the market: You have to sign up a month ahead of time, and there’s a long queue of others trying to get the same job. She said that there is a morning shift and an afternoon shift, and at any one point there are only four musicians performing at a time.