A town rich in culture and regional flair, Pittsburgh is one of the best cities to see buskers, entertainers who perform a variety of talents in public locations for gratuities. While the city’s busking scene is rather small, it is certainly big on talent. From artists to musicians and even magicians, there is no shortage of street performers who know how to draw a crowd. If you’ve never seen busking, there are plenty of locations around Pittsburgh where you can see some of the city’s best.
Roberto Clemente Bridge
Pittsburgh, PA 15272
Pittsburghers either love him or loathe him, but there’s no denying that “Sax Guy” Reggie Howze has earned himself the recognition as one of Pittsburgh’s best buskers. A forty-something Hill District native, Howze has become somewhat of a local celebrity to Pittsburghers. Whether he’s heckling the locals or playing his repertoire of 80’s theme songs mixed with Pittsburgh sports fight songs and a hint of jazz, Sax Guy certainly knows how to draw a crowd. Catch him before and after Pirates baseball home games and, on occasion, outside the CONSOL Energy Center and Heinz Field following Penguins and Steelers games.
Along the Monongahela River across from downtown
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
From balloon art to mandolins to a washtub bass, you’re guaranteed to find a wide variety of street talent in the city’s South Side. This eccentric, urban area is well known for its booming bar scene that provides continuous nightlife entertainment for the city’s college students, but take a cue from the locals and venture outside the clubs and pubs. This is where South Side’s eclectic buskers take to the streets at night armed with unique vocals, blaring accordions, lively fiddles and more. If you’re lucky, you may meet up with baritone gospel singer Bill Dorsey or banjo busker Bruce Miller.
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2100 Smallman St
Pittsburgh, PA 15222With its ability to draw energetic and supportive spectators, the Pittsburgh Public Market has become a regular stomping ground for several buskers, including Sam Wise, self-proclaimed “Pittsburgh’s shortest bearded magician.” Wise brings his shows featuring kid-centered magic, balloon twisting and juggling talents to this 10,000-square-feet space. If a quirky mix of acoustic folk, blues and country music is what you’re looking for, don’t miss The Squirrel Hillbillies from the city’s East End. The duo frequently performs sets debuting original songs at the Pittsburgh Public Market, a venue that feels like home to them.
Pittsburgh, PA 15211
In addition to breathtaking views of the city, you’ll be blown away by some of the buskers circulating Pittsburgh’s Mt. Washington neighborhood. Eye-catching balloon animal artists, spectacular vocalists and acoustic musicians are just a few of the buskers you’ll encounter strolling these charming urban streets. In comparison to South Side and Squirrel Hill, Mt. Washington’s buskers’ acts tend to be more family friendly. With its kaleidoscope of street performers, there’s something for everyone high atop Mt. Washington.
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
If you enjoy the soulful sounds of string instruments, including banjos, fiddles, guitars and violins, venture along Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. One of the area’s favorite busking violinists affectionately referred to by locals as the “Violin Lady” can often be heard playing a variety of classical music around Squirrel Hill. Be sure to make a stop outside Acoustic Music Works. The store openly welcomes and encourages buskers to its Murray Avenue storefront.
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Head to CBS Pittsburgh’s Best Of page for more local tips on family fun, shopping, nightlife, food, culture and more!
Jessica Wasik lives in Pittsburgh where works as a full-time figure skating coach sharing her passion with todays generation of young skaters. A graduate of Robert Morris University with a degree in English Studies, Jessica is also a contributing writer for Allegheny West Magazine. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.