From Busking to Hit Recording Artist to Busking – Wes Dolan

Posted on May 11, 2012


By Jennifer King

Mansfield town busker, Wes Dolan (31) recently returned to the streets of Mansfield to continue busking his way to fame despite having a record deal and making several television and film appearances.

In 2010, He starred in the futuristic horror film The Plague and a number of his songs featured on its soundtrack. Later that same year, he starred in The Stone – No Soul Left Unturned. A number of his songs have appeared on movies over the last two years.

Dolan signed a record deal with Reality Entertainment in 2011 was a resident musician for the Sky Television series, Mindscape.

Wes’s first album, Reason to Exist, was released in September 2011. It reached number 2 in the Amazon Blues chart and remained in the top 10 for about a month. His second album is due for release in December this year.

With a clear passion for entertaining the crowds, Wes regularly still entertains the crowds in Mansfield and plays for local venues whilst balancing his recording career.

He said, “I started learning to play music in pubs with my dad and uncle who busked about 30 years ago. I usually play about 5 gigs a month and busk 5 days a week. I am self-employed and I make a decent enough living out if it.

Unless you’re as popular as Bruno Mars or Lady Gaga, album sales aren’t really a great earner but they do raise your profile and help with getting booked for festivals and other venues.”

Wes was taught to play the guitar from a young age by his father, Liam Dolan and his uncle, Joe Dolan. These two brothers from Ireland raised Wes around music. Throughout Wes’s career, his father, Liam and his fiancé, Laura Wilcockson have performed with him regularly.

Busking is a passion of Wes’s and it’s in his roots. He has had some good and bad experiences with it though, “my best experience of busking was when someone gave me £1000 for playing one song! My worst experience was when someone attacked me and I defended myself and rendered them unconscious in the Mansfield town centre.”

Although busking is not illegal, some councils will release by-laws prohibiting buskers from being in the streets. Mansfield District council has no such by-law and there are often three or more buskers visiting the town centre on a weekly basis. Many of them play instruments but none of them seem to have the rapport with the public that Wes has built up over the years.

James King (67) of Rainworth near Mansfield said, “I come into town around three times a week. Wes and I sometimes go for a coffee in the week. I love his singing and his laid back voice. Blues music is one of my favourite genres. He is one of the most talented musicians I have heard in a long time and he is a lovely person.”

Within city centres such as Sheffield or York, buskers must abide by a code of conduct and they must get permission to perform under the Licencing Act 2003.  Buskers must for example, not obstruct the path or shop entrances by spreading out their equipment.  There are certain areas where they may not be allowed to busk and they are not allowed to sell any merchandise on the streets.

London has its own individual set of rules around busking. The buskers working around London have to apply for a licence, but could be signed up to do things such as perform on the tube.  A busker working on the tube will perform to around 3.5 million tube passengers a day.  Buskers who get opportunities like this often get picked out to perform at other venues, some have even performed to royalty.

Wes has work coming up with Awesome magazine, and is playing local gigs around Mansfield.

To check if your council has by-laws prohibiting buskers just visit your local council website.