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Piedmont Blues Resource Links
Music Maker Relief Foundation, Inc.
Music Maker Relief Foundation, Inc. helps the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern music gain recognition and meet their day to day needs. The organization presents these musical traditions to the world so American culture will flourish and be preserved for future generations. Music Maker artists include Piedmont Blues artists Etta Baker, Guitar Gabriel, Richard "Big Boy" Henry, as well as local stringband musicians The Carolina Chocolate Drops. "Music Maker has been instrumental in aiding Piedmont Blues masters such as Etta Baker, John Dee Holeman, George Higgs, Big Boy Henry, Guitar Gabriel, Willa Mae Buckner, Captain Luke, Preston Fulp, Guitar Slim Stephens and many more." — Music Maker Relief Foundation founder, Tim Duffy
Piedmont Blues Preservation Society
The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society is an educational non-profit organization which was officially incorporated in the state of North Carolina in August 1985. The society is governed by a volunteer board of sixteen officers, representing a broad cross section of the local community. The general funding is provided through membership dues, souvenir sales, corporate donations, grants, and newsletter advertising. The society currently has approximately three hundred active members.
The Cape Fear Blues Society
The Cape Fear Blues Society was formed in 1987 by a small group of blues supporters in Wilmington, NC. The CFBS is now a vibrant, all-inclusive organization that welcomes listeners, musicians and blues enthusiasts from all walks of life. Thanks to its dynamic membership base and positive perspective, the CFBS is one of the most widely-recognized, non-profit music societies in the Carolinas.
Primary Source for Piedmont Blues Program Information:
Bastin, Bruce. Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast.
Chicago: U of Illinois P, 1986.
Bull Durham Blues Festival
The beloved Bull Durham Blues Festival presents a host of Blues legends from the Historic Durham Athletic Park. For more than a decade, the annual event has been the site of the biggest Blues celebration in the state. The festival draws upwards of 15,000 people and features the soulful sounds of Eddy Clearwater, Marcia Ball, Blues Kravin and Bobby Rush.
Carolina Blues Festival
Decades old, the annual Carolina Blues Festival presents some of the area's best and brightest Blues artists, all performing from downtown Greensboro. This event, the longest-running blues festival in the Southeast, is produced by the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society and is the anchor event for the annual Piedmont Jazz & Blues Festival.
Festival for the Eno
The Festival for the Eno is presented by the Eno River Association. Since July 4, 1980 when buses rolled in for the first Festival, affectionate crowds have filled the Eno's Meadow and the Grove for performances by Doc Watson, Etta Baker, the Badgett Sisters, and many more. Today the annual event features over 100 performers on five stages. All proceeds from the Festival for the Eno go to preserve and protect lands in the Eno River basin.
Etta Baker of Morganton, NC, was born in 1913 and has been playing guitar since the age of 3. She is the premier female Piedmont blues guitar instrumentalist, plays the guitar everyday, and is constantly working on new arrangements. Etta maintains a beautiful yard and garden, and, in her 90s, is matriarch of 108 members in her immediate family.
Reverend Blind Gary Davis
Reverend Gary Davis was a towering figure in at least two realms. As a finger-style guitarist he developed a complex yet swinging approach to picking that has influenced generations of players, including Jerry Garcia, Ry Cooder, Dave Van Ronk, Jorma Kaukonen and Stefan Grossman. And as a composer of religious and secular music he created a substantial body of work that has been recorded by, among others, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Peter Paul & Mary and the Grateful Dead, not to mention Davis's own releases.
Gabriel, who was born Robert Lewis Jones, has been a part of that world before. He is familiar to many blues fans as Nyles Jones, the name under which he recorded a highly acclaimed LP, My South, My Blues, for the Gemini label in 1970. The album was reissued in 1988 on the French label, Jambalaya, as Nyles Jones, the Welfare Blues. Mike Leadbitter, writing in Blues Unlimited in 1970, called the single, Welfare Blues, the most important 45 released that year.
Richard "Big Boy" Henry
Born in Beaufort, North Carolina in 1921, Big Boy was the patriarch of the Carolina Blues. Big Boy weaves timeless parables into this his CD, "Beaufort Blues". In "Old Bill" he points out the helplessness we all feel witnessing senseless sacrifice. In "John Henry" he rewrites an age old classic revealing this legend's intimate character. And in "Vellevina" he lets us know what true love is all about. Big Boy passes the torch in this album to his son Luther who makes his debut singing an original song, giving us a glimpse of how Big Boy might have sounded in his prime.