These musicians say George Street is getting more violent and needs more policing

Craig Follett, left, and Rowan Sherlock are musicians who play gigs in downtown St. John's.  (Heather Barrett/CBC - image credit)
Craig Follett, left, and Rowan Sherlock are musicians who play gigs in downtown St. John's. (Heather Barrett/CBC - image credit)
Heather Barrett/CBC
Heather Barrett/CBC

After some recent muggings of musicians in downtown St. John's, two performers say the area feels increasingly unsafe late at night.

Fiddle player Rowan Sherlock and bass player Craig Follett have been part of the pub circuit for many years and have seen their share of hairy situations.

"Sometimes it can be a little bit daunting walking down George Street and you've got some expensive equipment tied to your back and in your arms and in your hands," said Sherlock. "You're kind of left a bit vulnerable."

Two recent events stick out recently for Sherlock: a fellow fiddle player was mugged on George Street and had two instruments stolen, and a drummer friend was mugged while walking home after a gig.

Follett said the problems are also trickling outside George Street.

He lives downtown and often used to walk to gigs with his instrument on his back and headphones on.

"That's all over with. I would never walk downtown with headphones now. I've had a few incidents myself. Nothing physical happened, but I've been followed more than once," he said.

"The vibe that I get is it's not necessarily people who are homeless or down on their luck. It seems like somebody who has a substance abuse problem."

Paul Daly/The Canadian Press
Paul Daly/The Canadian Press

More policing

Both musicians say there isn't enough of a police presence on George Street anymore but they aren't blaming the RNC for not being there.

Sherlock said he has spoken with officers who say the police force is understaffed.

"Maybe it's a policing thing that needs to be increased or something the George Street Association can jump on board with and maybe team up with the RNC," he said.

"I'm not going to say it's a laziness from the RNC at all but there is something that needs to be done there for sure.

Sherlock said musicians are trying to find solutions. He said the musicians he gigs with strategize ahead of time, find parking spots near each other and walk to and from the venues together. He said the responsibility isn't on the venues or their owners.

The RNC and the George Street Association have both declined to comment.

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