Teenager Joe Robinson was busking on Huddersfield’s streets within four months of first picking up a guitar.
And the 15-year-old has just brought out his first six-track EP on Spotify within 17 months of playing that first note.
Joe bought an old acoustic guitar from a friend for £20 which only had five strings to start his busking career … and his first session brought in £30.
He’s since started playing gigs and has performed at the White Swan and the Turntable Coffee and Vinyl cafe in Huddersfield town centre but you can often catch him on Saturdays busking on New Street.
Joe, who lives in Stainland just down the valley from Outlane, with dad Rik, mum Fiona and 17-year-old sister Niamh, first started playing drums when he was three and is now a proficient drummer.
Rik – headteacher at Ravenshall School in Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury – has played the guitar since he was 14 and Joe thought he’d try another instrument so he could play with his dad which is why he chose drums.
But it all changed at Christmas 2021 when Joe decided to buy a cheap electric guitar with his Christmas money and taught himself how to play using the website Ultimate Guitar. He decided to have a go at busking so bought his friend’s old acoustic guitar and first went busking in Huddersfield on Easter Saturday 2021.
He now busks in Huddersfield every two weeks or so and also plays in Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Manchester. By late 2022 he decided to drag an amp round with him and go electric on the streets.
Rik, 45, who played in a band called The Container Drivers championed by legendary DJ John Peel, said: “Joe is already better than me at playing the guitar and has a really good voice with a real sense of presence on stage. There’s a lot to think about when you’re playing guitar but Joe sings as well. To do all that and not be nervous is phenomenal.”
Most people love to hear Joe busking although he recalls one woman who came up to him and said bluntly: “You sound like a dying cat.” He took no notice and carried on!
Joe’s busking set includes indie and folk such as The Mountain Goats and Ben Marwood but he also does crowd-pleasers including Oasis, Ed Sheeran, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, The Cure, The Cranberries and The Killers.
Joe met 16-year-old Colne Valley singer songwriter Mason Whittle at an open mic acoustic night at The Sportsman pub in Huddersfield and they will be teaming up to do a gig at the Grayston Unity pub in Halifax on June 25.
Joe visited relatives in High Wycombe this New Year but forgot to take his guitar and was itching to have a go busking there so bought a guitar in a second-hand shop for £15. He then made £50 busking and sold the guitar back to the shop for a tenner before returning home.
And when he went on holiday to Barnard Castle in County Durham he made £120 busking for an hour a day for three days.
The EP called Love Is Nature came out on Spotify on Friday (May 5) and has six tracks – Way Too Much, My Secret, hotwaterbottle, Endangered Species, Little Otter and Bug Bites.
The songs are mainly about relationships but take a lot of extended metaphors from nature.
They are out under Joe’s stage name Doogle which comes from his mum’s Irish roots. His middle name is Dougal named after Dougal in Irish sitcom Father Ted and was always a source of folk poking fun at Joe so he turned it around by changing the spelling to Doogle.
There’s an Australian guitarist already called Joe Robinson and an American comedian also shares the same name so Joe wanted to make sure he was different.
Joe, who also plays drums in West Yorkshire punk band Alarm 77, attends Brooksbank School in Elland and will soon take his GCSEs before aiming to spend the rest of the summer busking and playing gigs.
In the autumn he will start two years at the Access Creative College in Manchester doing a Level 3 diploma in music performance.
Both Joe and Rik play cricket for Sowerby Bridge. Joe is a bowler while Rik is the opening batsman and wicket-keeper.
Joe said: “I’d love to make it as a singer songwriter in music but if I don’t I’d then look to be a session musician, probably playing drums.
“It’d be a great to work on cruise ships and see the world.”
- Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.