Ted Lasso's busking star Cam Cole takes his From The Street To The Stage tour to The Joiners
Ted Lasso has been one of the surprise TV hits of the past couple of years, starring Jason Sudeikis as the titular football coach.
During the Golden Globe-nominated comedy’s first season there was an eye-catching cameo from Cam Cole as a busker pulled off the street as a last-minute replacement for Robbie Williams at a high-end charity bash. Cam’s primal blues-rock brings the house down.
Over the past few years, Cam has been racking up millions of views online for videos of his infectious one-man band performances on the streets, and it was these that caught the producers’ eyes.
‘They were looking for a main busker part,’ says Cam. ‘They typed in “London buskers”, and I came up, and Jason Sudoko,’ he messes up the actor’s name – you get the impression Cam’s not a big TV watcher, ‘was like, “I want that guy”.
‘They wanted me to a play a character, but I said I'd rather play myself, if that's alright? And they said "yes”.’
On tour in Yorkshire at the time – this was in 2019 – he jumped on a train to London: ‘I was straight on to a film set with my own movie-set caravan with my name on the door. It was good,’ he chuckles.
Many moons ago, Cam says ‘I started out with the intention of trying to be a rock star’, playing the gig circuit around London, trying to make it the ‘proper’ way. ‘I did that for about a year and a half, then I started living on the road, because I couldn't afford London rent, so I started living in a van, and I found I could make enough for my fuel and my food from just busking.
‘I always played my own songs on the street, but I'd make enough, like £20 or something, then over the years, the show developed on the street and I found I was having a wider audience reach from playing on the streets than I was from gigs.’
One of his regular pitches was in Camden.
‘Loads of tourists would turn up on the weekends on a sunny day and I'd be there playing. Then they'd take my music home to wherever they went, so I've got a fanbase from all over the world, just from playing to that many people over the space of about eight years, busking on the streets.’
Every once in a while Cam’s performances have gone viral on social media.
‘Yeah, it’s nice when I get a bump from one of those platforms, but aside from these platforms, the biggest thing has just literally been word of mouth, when people share it among themselves and start talking.
‘That grows it more than anything else.
‘It's not any one thing – it's the accumulation of many things, and multiple people talking about you and all these little boosts from different platforms, and plugging away at it.
‘The concept of getting a big break is an X Factor-type thing.
‘They actually asked me to come on that, and Britain’s Got Talent – but that's not for me. What's the point?
‘I've built it for this long by myself, if I go with them, they'll take everything, won't they? Which is how they work – so, no.’
With his latest album Crooked Hill released to critical acclaim, Cam has embarked on his biggest conventional tour to date. But being a ‘rock star’ is no longer the aim.
‘A few years ago I gave up on the idea of being a rock star – I just want to play music, and do my thing and not care where it takes me.
‘It’s funny, I'm excited about doing this tour, but I'm past the point of being excited about the future after so many years of doing this – it is what it is! There's no point in attaching yourself to ideas in your head about what the future may hold.
‘It's not about “making it” any more, it's about doing the thing that you love, and you have that every single night when you're playing a gig.
‘I've fallen in love with the journey of it, rather than worrying about playing Wembley years down the road.
‘Ultimately there isn't an end goal – so when you're not thinking like that, you've won already, it's fine!’
Cam Cole is at The Joiners, Southampton on Monday, September 27. Go to joiners.vticket.co.uk.
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