Ashton Kutcher’s Philly Fiddler Found

By Teresa Masterson
|  Friday, Sep 11, 2009  |  Updated 12:14 PM EDT
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Justus Plays a Little Tune

NBCPhiladelphia.com

Justus Rivera, 13, could only muster the words "wow" after he heard Ashton Kutcher made him a YouTube sensation.

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Justus Talks About Kutcher

Justus talks about his experience with Ashton Kutcher.

Justus: "I Play a lot of Guitar Hero"

This musical prodigy can play a half dozen instruments and has been playing music since he was two.
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A mysterious young violinist who found fame by way of Ashton Kutcher's Twitter feed has been identified.

"I'm famous?" Justus Rivera, 13, said with shy surprise Thursday.

Kutcher, the actor and producer who is the most followed user on Twitter, was intrigued when he saw Justus playing at the entrance of Rittenhouse Square on the corner of 18th and Walnut streets last Saturday night.

Kutcher made a brief video of Justus’ sidewalk performance and posted a link to it on his Twitter account, saying, “I came across this young man sawing on a fiddle and playing it hot.”

Since then, footage of Rivera playing has been watched more than 30,000 times on the Internet.

Soon after the video of Rivera went up, a director of a popular daytime talk show saw Kutcher's tweet and launched a search for the mystery fiddler. NBC Philadelphia found him.

A North Philly native, Justus is a self-taught musician who's been playing the violin for less than two years. His explanation for how he picked it up so fast?

"I guess my fingers are just used to it because I play a lot of Guitar Hero," said Justus.

In addition to Guitar Hero and the violin, Justus is a skilled player of the trumpet, bongos, piano, guitar, drums, and the xylophone. Justus is an eighth grader at Girard Academic Music Program (GAMP) -- a magnet secondary school at 22nd and Ritner Streets in South Philly.

According to Justus' mother, Angelica Nieves, the prodigy plays in the Rittenhouse area on weekends once or twice a month.

"I get this adrenaline rush when people and crowds are standing by," Justus said about playing in public. "I like the people; I like the money too."

Justus makes $200 to $500 every time he busks in Center City. He said the money goes to his college fund or to help around the house.  

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