Created on Thursday, 09 February 2012 17:06
Written by Mike Martin
COLUMBIA, 2/10/12 (Beat Byte) -- A months-long skirmish between a Columbia icon and a street musician will burst onto the public stage this Valentines Day, when a Columbia municipal court decides The Case of the Busted Busker.
Celtic fiddle player Patrick Brennus McFarland and True/False Film Festival co-founder Paul Sturtz have locked horns over McFarland's fiddle "busking," the practice of playing music in public places for gratuities.
McFarland often plays near Sturtz's office window on 9th Street.
"Last October, Paul Sturtz called the police on me because he said my music was annoying him," McFarland told the Columbia Heart Beat.
Sturtz defended the move with a link from the MSNBC story, Musicians don’t want tunes used for torture. "Twelve hours a day outside your window, it'll break a man," the former First Ward City Councilman told the Heart Beat.
Charged with violating Section 16-258.1, a Columbia city ordinance that governs music volume downtown, McFarland characterized Sturtz's complaint as "very disingenuous. My un-amplified fiddle produces sound that is one quarter the power of other buskers in the area."
He also accused Sturtz of "hypocrisy. Mr. Sturtz is the chief organizer of the True/False film festival, which massively employs buskers as a promotional gimmick."
Armed with sound level readings from a meter, and "numerous letters of support from local business owners," McFarland said he goes on trial Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 9 am over a violation he characterized as "strangely reminiscent of the witch laws of the Middle Ages."
"This is an open invitation to anyone to come by and watch the roasting," McFarland added. "But I'm pretty sure I won't be the one on the spit."