Introducing the world of blues to Caldwell County, and Caldwell County to the world

Jun. 07, 2013 @ 01:54 AM

The people behind the Pop Ferguson Blues Festival are clear about the blues – what it is, and what it isn’t.

Ask Clyde Ferguson Jr., the organizer of the festival, or blues singer Barbara Carr, one of this year’s keynote acts.

Blues music isn’t rock and roll, Carr said. And it doesn’t go 169 beats a minute, Ferguson added.

“We don’t apologize for the blues,” Carr said.

This year’s festival, which starts this evening in Lenoir, will focus – unapologetically, of course – on women in blues.

People talk about men in the blues all the time, Ferguson explained, but historically, the role women play is just as large. The first noted blues artists were women, he said.

The story of blues is their story, too.

“And a lot of times,” Ferguson said, “a lot of that story doesn’t get told.”

Carr is one of those women. A two-time Living Blues magazine Female Artist of the Year, she started singing with her sisters as a child in St. Louis, Miss. She then made her way through four record labels and about 20 albums.

Carr said she loves the blues because she was raised with it, self-taught on an old, upright piano in her family’s home. And she loves the stories the blues tell.

“There’s some real stories,” she said. “That’s real life. The hard, the good, the in-between when it’s not bad or good – all of that’s the blues.”

Ferguson concurred. Even if you don’t sing or play the blues, he said, you’ve felt it.

“Everybody feels the blues,” he said. “Everybody.”

As he plans each annual festival, Ferguson has one overarching goal: spreading culture both to and from the county.

“It’s introducing the world to Caldwell County,” he said. “And also trying to introduce Caldwell County to the world.”