When was the last time you saw a traditional one-man band in Mansfield town centre?
If the answer is just the other day, then you probably saw Mansfield Woodhouse’s Will Knight – or Billy Boy Blue as he is commonly known – performing on West Gate to mark International Busking Day.
The 50-year-old was taking part in the international event as representative for Mansfield, performing a set of traditional blues and rock’n’roll which was recorded and will be shown across the world as part of the event.
Mansfield-born Billy said: “I first read about the event online and saw that more than 100 countries are taking part, but I noticed nobody was standing to represent Mansfield.”
Billy has been busking since his early 20s, starting off with a traditional acoustic guitar before moving onto his one-man-band set up more recently to fill what he describes as a “niche gap in the market”.
He said: “I wanted to do something a bit different and I felt busking with an acoustic guitar had got a bit over-played, if you will.
“My first love that I used to play in when I was young is my blues harp, so I incorporated that in with the high-hat and the bass drum to form the American blues set up.
“This set up is unusual for some people, because the only melody is my voice and the blues harp, whereas I think people are often used to hearing a guitar.”
Busking is something Billy has enjoyed since he first performed in the early 1990s, with his love for music fervent in his renditions of classic blues and rock’n’roll anthems.
He said: “I find the best thing about busking is expressing the sound and then sharing it too.
“It is a nice thing to share and it’s direct to the public, very immediate, which I enjoy.
“I always get a positive reaction whenever I am out on the streets, and when I have performed in front of crowds people seem to love my sound.
“I just think it brings a breath of fresh air to people who love the sound of blues and who don’t get to hear the traditional American sound very often in the streets.”
Prior to taking up a career in music, Billy has worked as a carer, a therapist and in retail, but music is now his key focus.
He is now planning on releasing a recorded album of his hour-long International Busking Day set.