What Made ‘The Piano Man’ Break Down As He Played The Piano in Poole?

ByQuyen Anne

Aug 17, 2023
AN ANGRY row that broke out between a busker and a market manager in a high street has been viewed more than 500,000 times online.

The busker says he “crumbled” in the street after the confrontation on Poole’s high street.

James Tofalli, known as Piano Man, was playing his piano in Poole before he was confronted by a market manager who told him to leave.

The confrontation, which was captured on James’ Facebook page live and has been viewed over half a million times, shows the manager asking him to move before and argument erupts.

James can be heard repeatedly shouting “get out of my face” as the market manager is on the phone before playing on his piano, his “safety net”.

Bournemouth Echo: James broke down as he played the piano
Bournemouth Echo: James broke down as he played the piano

James broke down as he played the piano (Image: Piano Man Facebook page)

A man can then be heard saying he will “smash his piano”, James shouts back and he then breaks down in tears as he continues to play, with members of the public offering him support.

Speaking with the Echo, James, 31, said: “I have been playing on the streets for seven years, so I can tell when people are off, and his attitude was immediately ‘this is my space, I’m the boss of this area’.

“As soon as he noticed I was recording, he changed and was passive aggressive and I crumbled in front of the street.

“I find in those sorts of situations it would have been like fight or flight for me and I got stuck in the middle there because luckily I had the piano in front of me.

Bournemouth Echo: The market manager in the video
Bournemouth Echo: The market manager in the video

The market manager in the video (Image: Piano Man Facebook page)

“I’ve had problems with drugs in the past, so the piano is my sort of safety net. I was overwhelmed at the minute and I struggled to deal with it. I’m still struggling to deal with it now.”

Paul Lewis, director at SMT Markets which operates Poole’s markets, said: “We encourage buskers and we want buskers, as is evidenced with what we have in Winchester, where there is a lot of busking.

“The lad is so talented and we encourage him on that, but then there also has to be some sort of rules in place about where buskers are, otherwise shoppers wouldn’t be able to walk through the markets.

Bournemouth Echo: James Tofalli 'The Piano Man'
Bournemouth Echo: James Tofalli ‘The Piano Man’

James Tofalli ‘The Piano Man’ (Image: Piano Man Facebook page)

“To be honest with you, it has blown up a little bit, but it is a free speech nation and everybody is entitled to their own opinion, as is he.”

A BCP Council spokesman said: “Whilst Poole’s market is run by an external company and the market manager is directly employed by them, we have received formal complaints about this issue and are investigating some of the concerns raised.”

Explaining the rules on busking, he said: “Busking is not usually considered a licensable activity under the Licensing Act 2003, but if noise objections are raised by others in the vicinity, buskers may be asked to turn their music down.

“This guideline is there to ensure that everyone enjoys visiting, shopping and trading on the high street.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *