Broadway street performers try to stand out in crowd - WKRN News 2

Broadway street performers try to stand out in crowd

Posted: Updated: Jun 06, 2014 09:20 PM
J.P. Willis is a street performer trying to make a name for himself during the CMA Music Festival. J.P. Willis is a street performer trying to make a name for himself during the CMA Music Festival.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Broadway street performers tried to grab the attention of the thousands of country music fans in town for the CMA Musical Festival.

J.P. Willis played the banjo in an alley off Lower Broad Friday for tips. It is his regular day job.

"I work eight hours a day, six days a week. Usually on Fridays and Saturdays I'll go ahead and work a double shift, I call it," Willis explained.

However, CMA Music Fest does not mean more tips in the bucket.

"There's so much more noise, it's louder," Willis said. "So much going on, you know, people's attention, it's got a lot of competition, I guess you'd say."

The majority of fans walk past Willis and his tip bucket. A few stop to listen and throw in a dollar or two, but seldom does anyone stop to buy a CD.

"I think maybe at night you can make more. But as of right now, I've been here since about 11 and haven't made any substantial amount, you know, more than normal. It's probably a little less than it normally would be," Willis said.

Willis has not had a big break and has performed with a few minor stars. Last year he was discovered by producers of the FOX show "Buried Treasure" to play the banjo in the backseat of a car as antique dealer Barry Weiss went in search of a precious antique.

Like many of the people who move to the Music City to perform and write songs, Willis plays mostly for the love of music. He said he is not sure if he would trade performing on the street for a job on the road with a band.

"I think it's pretty cool to play that [traditional bluegrass music] for an audience that's probably never heard it. They're not going to go out and try to find that, because they don't know anything about it," Willis told News 2.

"I see people from all different cultures enjoying traditional bluegrass, and that's real fun for me," he said.

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