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Street Musicians Claim They Were Asked To Leave Broadway

Posted at 10:00 PM, Aug 26, 2017

Several street musicians have claimed they have been asked to leave downtown Nashville or they will be cited. 

It appears officials have been cracking down on an ordinance. 

A tourist said the street music has been one of the reasons he loves Broadway.

"This is Nashville. It's known for music, and this is his version of music," Michael Ossana said.  

Ossana stopped to listen to William Boyd make music with kitchenware. 

"I would be happy if I died right here playing my music," Boyd said.

Boyd has become known as "Broadway's Spoon Man." He said the tip money he has made in downtown Nashville has been his main income. 

He said on the day of the eclipse, he was told he couldn't sing or play music on the sidewalk.

"I just don't want to give it up. It would break my heart," Boyd said.

In July, several businesses received a letter that they had to remove signs and advertisements from the sidewalk as well.

A guy known as the "Broadway Rapper" said he was also told to pack up and leave for the first time in 15 years.

"As you see the streets are empty. They did what they had to do," Kyhil Smith, the "Broadway Rapper," said. "It was all because a sign ordinance stopped businesses from having signs out on the street... So then they complained, if they can't have signs out there, then why can musicians be out there? I understand it, but I want to come to a fair medium."

The "Broadway Rapper" and "Broadway's Spoon Man" have been looking for a new place to make a living. Some businesses with private alleys have been allowing them to set up there.

"I believe the solution would be if we could all have just permits to be able play out here on Broadway because it is Music City, and that's what people come here for," Smith said. 

"I had to buy money from a loan company, and I'm financially broke," Boyd said.

We have reached out to Mayor Megan Barry's office for comment. Metro Councilman Freddie O'Connell responded in part:

"My understanding after conversations with the Mayor's Office and Public Works is that recent enforcement activities have been an intentional effort to improve the overall pedestrian environment. The initial focus, working with DISTRICT Merchants, was to level a playing field that had become an arms race of sorts, with sandwich boards and other items impeding very crowded sidewalks.

Beyond that, I know there was an intent to limit people setting up drum kits and amplified equipment for the same reason.

It's just enforcement, though. No new ordinance."