A HAVERFORDWEST busker, slammed in a recent letter which described him as “tone-deaf” and “bellowing,” has praised the wave of support he received from the people of Pembrokeshire.

Western Telegraph:

In a letter published in the Milford Mercury, visitor to Haverfordwest, Lorraine Watton of West Bromwich criticised the busking skills of Pete Jones, who has been busking in the town for some 10 years, performing a variety of songs on his ukulele at the town’s old bridge.

“It was such a lovely day and all was peaceful until what sounded like a violent altercation suddenly broke out nearby,” wrote Lorraine. “The loud shouting came from the bridge and turned out to be a busker with a ukulele. He must have been tone-deaf because he couldn't sing in tune and massacred every song he attempted.”

The letter drew the ire of many supporters and fans of Mr Jones, who hit out at what they consider her unfair attack on him.

Pete Jones, 39, of Portfield, who moved to Pembrokeshire in the late 90s from Cheshire, explained the background to his busking: “I’d been unemployed for a long period of time, it’s a completely disheartening experience.

“I had set up my own Bushcraft business on the day of the credit crunch and I sold items by local artisans; suddenly that fell by the wayside, with massive rates in the riverside market.

“I had a choice of becoming unemployed or becoming self-employed, having to become ‘a bit more crafty’ about how I made my money.

“One of the reasons I chose to busk was to liven the place up; the music I play is always up-beat, I’m starting to do my own songs but there’s a lot of stuff like Jimmy Cliff and quite a few punk and ska tracks, all the way up to John Denver and modern stuff; I play about 70 different songs.”

Pete, who volunteers as an artist at the town’s VC Gallery, added: “Part of it is to lift my mood, if easing my mood lifts others’ mood that’s great; there’s a lot of lonely people out there, I often end up chatting to them, helping them feel not so lonely.

“I think it’s better coming to a town where you’re greeted with a smile.”

Speaking about the letter, he said: “Initially, I was absolutely gutted, I try not to be critical of others; that was quite a scathing assault.

“I rang the newspaper and then noticed the comments on Facebook, the level of support that was there; the majority of them were people I knew in passing; speaking to the paper now gives me an opportunity to thank everybody who has supported me.

“It’s kind of overwhelming a bit, it was nice to know I was thought so highly of by a lot of people; I always try to be open and friendly, that was mentioned a lot.

“I actually messaged Lorraine [the author of the letter] on Facebook thanking her for her feedback and inviting her out for a coffee next time she’s in Haverfordwest. I try and see the positive side in everyone, the negative side doesn’t compute with me.

“A lot of it is about lifting people’s moods; I get old couples dancing on the bridge to my music, for a lot of them it’s their era.

“I really want the opportunity to thank everyone in a kind of official manner. There’s been a knock-on effect after the letter; today someone stopped me as I was walking down, offering their support.

“It’s a really good community that I’m proud to be part of, there’s a lot more acceptance here than you find in a lot of places.”

Pete has now been asked to perform at both next year’s St Davids Music Festival and the Unearthed festival.