I thought that I would use this forum to help spread the word about many of the wonderful, and unknown blues artists that have come from my neck of the world. The Southern Piedmont of North Carolina, and just across the border in northern South Carolina. Many people know of many of the legends that have come from this area like Doc Watson, John Coltrane, Hank Garland, Aurthur Smith, Earl Scruggs, and the Marshall Tucker band. Unfortunately people do not know the many unknown blues artists that, through other artists that haven been influenced by them, have influenced countless blues artists through out the years. Our unique blend of blues, bluegrass, and country not only help give birth to rag time but bled its way through out the East influencing all of the artists that created the Nashville sound. People like Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, or Rockabilly pioneers like Carl Perkins. Our folk societies have been trying for years to get these people their due. Thankfully for Kenny Wayne Shepherds efforts on his album/DVD documentary “10 Days Out” to try and record a lot of the surviving old school blues players, and preserve their legacy, featured many of these Piedmont blues players. Thankfully that helped generate some interest. David Holt (most well known for his work with Doc Watson) has been doing some interviews with these people, and I have attached a few that I could find for you guys to investigate, and maybe help spread the word. I had a wake up call when Tommy Harkenrider came to Durham with Junior Watson to do a clinic, and I was surprised at how few of the people there, and running the event, knew of the treasures like Etta Baker that we could have literally walked down the street to talk to. I thought it was sad to see a blues enthusiast like Tommy come here, and when asking what was around of interest no one knew. I hope you guys find something you like in the videos to follow.
Here is my first set of interview footage of some Piedmont Blues artists. The first is my favorite. Not only because Etta Baker was such a treasure of a person, and did everything she could to help a fellow musician, but her stories in her interviews bring back a lot of memories as a kid growing up in the country. The fish fries she mentions, and the bonfires we had growing up as well where my grandfather and his brothers would play music all night. We could cut a rug all night because there was nothing out here, so no one to disturb or things to hurt. I tease Tommy because you can’t do stuff like a bonfire in Southern Ca. without burning down half the State. LOL. I hope you enjoy
Elizabeth Cotten Videos
One of our more famous players. He is from my backyard. About 45 minutes away.
Mississippi John Hurt and Big bill Broonzy (while fantastic players in their own right) often cited Josh White, John Jackson, Barbeque Bob and Scrapper Blackwell as important figures in this style of blues.
Blind Willie McTell wasn’t from North Carolina like the others. He was from Georgia. He was another big proponent of the style. Though the Carolinas is the area most well know as the Southern Piedmont, it does extend into Georgia and up into parts of Virginia.
He gave us one of our more famous blues songs. Most people give writing credit for this song to Robert Johnson
Craner thanks for that post. I will have to do some searching on some of them. Let the digging begin.
Add Buddy Moss to your list then as well.
Good to see a John Dee Holeman video on here. I have been lucky enough to spend some time with Mr. Holeman through my good friend Tad Walters. He lives maybe 4 or 5 miles from the Blue Note Grill where Tommy and Junior Watson were in Durham. Unfortunately, you would be hard pressed to get him to play the Blind Boy Fuller style these days, but he can still tell the crap out of a story or dirty joke. There is a documentary on Youtube called Blues Houseparty with him and John Jackson (from Virginia) that is highly entertaining.
Ever wonder where those British guys came up with the name Pink Floyd? Well, it is an amalgamation of the names of Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, both from the Carolinas. Pink Anderson came from South Carolina, and may be the only thing cooler than bootleg fireworks to come from that state.
Floyd Council came from my hometown of Chapel Hill, NC and is one of the only sidemen to ever be recorded with Blind Boy Fuller. Come to think of it, I went to middle and high school with several Council kids. I wonder if they were related?
Don’t forget the good Reverend Gary Davis! He was born in the godforsaken southern version of Carolina, but migrated to Durham in the 20s. Every time I go to Durham, I wonder if I am walking where Blind Boy Fuller and the Reverend Gary Davis once walked.
I did know about Reverend Gary Davis, but I did not realize that about Pink Anderson and Floyd Council being from these parts. I did know they were the reason behind the band name Pink Floyd. That is how I originally discovered the two artists. South Carolina hasn’t been completely useless because it also gave us Hank Garland and Arthur Smith. They were from just across the border though, so that may explain their coolness. LOL. Plus Arthur jumped ship across the border and spent the majority of his life in the Charlotte area. He and my dad knew each other well because dad played with him a good bit on Arthur’s TV show. I saw Arthur a few times. Salt of the Earth kind of fellow. Jason, maybe I will see you at the Clinic in Durham this year. I will be Tommy’s ride up from Charlotte.
I have that House Party video saved on my Youtube account. It is good. I found while watching Sister Rosetta Tharp videos.
I was driving to work today and remembered Ralph Willis. He started in Alabama then moved to NC in the 30s. There is a whole CD on YouTube. Check out #10, Goin to Chattanooga.
Another good one that I just thought of is Willie Trice. I think he came from Greensboro. Can’t find any good examples of his stuff on youtube.
Last one for now is Hacksaw Harney. Robert Lockwood said he was the best guitar player he had ever heard. I did not know Lockwood had such high praise in him. He came from the Delta, but his style sounds more Piedmont than Delta to me. Insert joke about 80s airlines of the southeast here.
I will definitely be at the clinic in Durham this August.
Thanks for all of this information you have been sharing. I have found some cool things through all of the information that has been shared on this post. I have a buddy that I play music with, who is a good bit older, and he is a vast wealth of knowledge in roots music. he is digging up some information for me to look up on. I will share what I get from him. I look forward to geeking out in Raleigh. Tommy told me he had a student in North Carolina, and asked if I knew who you were. He didn’t realize I was about 3 hours a way.
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