Concord busker Domenic DiNardo makes money as he entertains passers-by

  • Domenic DiNardo, 69, plays the saxophone in front of the Red River Theatres sign on Main Street in Concord on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. DiNardo is a busker who takes part in a program to allow musicians to make money sharing their his talent with passers-by on the street. Jacob Dawson / Monitor staff

  • Domenic DiNardo, 69, looks out on Main Street while playing his saxophone in downtown Concord on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. DiNardo said he will go out busking four or five days a week. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • Domenic DiNardo, 69, plays his saxophone for passers-by in front of the Red River Theatres during the lunch rush on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, June 14, 2018

The lone musician sat in the brick courtyard in downtown Concord, the wind blowing through his white beard as he belted away on his saxophone.

His case was propped open, displaying some business cards and a small bowl with $1 bills in it. His cellphone was on holding the bills in place in the warm summer wind, and melodies played out of his Bluetooth speaker behind the case.

“I’m trying to make money doing this,” Domenic DiNardo said as he took a break before playing again.

DiNardo has been playing the saxophone for 56 years. Now the 69-year-old has taken his talents to the streets of downtown Concord. Such an activity – playing music for money in downtown Concord – wasn’t always legal, but with a spruced-up downtown, it’s now encouraged.

“People love it,” he said. “People come up to me and say ‘Man, come back here, keep doing this, this is so wonderful.’ ”

In February 2012, the Concord City Council approved a pilot program to allow street musicians, or buskers, to sign up to perform at one of four locations downtown. Performers are allowed to play from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

DiNardo said he plays in Concord and Portsmouth. He started busking in Concord last fall. On Tuesday, DiNardo could be heard near the Red River Theatres, where he was sitting on the granite block holding up the theater’s sign.

“When I was playing out here, people would say, ‘Hey, man, you should go to Portsmouth. You’d make more money.’ And it’s true,” he said.

DiNardo splits his time between the two cities once the weather gets nice, performing four or five days a week to pay the bills. Choosing Concord doesn’t always pay off.

“Lately, this place has really died out. I used to do pretty well here and I didn’t go to Portsmouth,” he said. “Over the last few times I’ve been here it hasn’t been as profitable.”

DiNardo said busking is very popular in Portsmouth and the people there appreciate the music, which leads to greater donations.

“They almost beg me: ‘Please come back here again; we love this,’ ” DiNardo said. “And there’s lots of people that go busking in Portsmouth.”

DiNardo didn’t want to say how much he makes on a typical day, but he said he keeps a log of where he played, for how long and how many donations he received, which he hands off to his accountant. He will play for a couple hours at a time or until the battery on his portable speaker dies. Sometimes he tires out before the speaker does.

DiNardo moved from Manchester, where he said it’s illegal to busk. He’s been in bands all his life and still plays in a 10-piece band he started in Manchester. Various gigs throughout his life led him to meet some of the greatest rock ’n’ roll acts, like The Allman Brothers Band and Aerosmith.

Concord’s buskers need to sign up to perform at Strings & Things on South Main Street.

Mike Gallant from Strings & Things said they haven’t had many problems with buskers signing up, but he admitted it’s possible some rogue buskers are out playing beyond one of the city’s four designated locations. While it’s hard to control, Gallant said he still thinks it’s a good way for the city to keep an eye on the program.

“It does bring some new life to the city. Some make a living,” he said. “It also gives kids opportunities to play to the public. The program kind of empowers kids to do it on their own.”

More information about busking guidelines are available at Strings & Things or online at the Concord Chamber of Commerce website.

(Jacob Dawson can be reached at 369-3325, jdawson@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @jaked156.)