Lenoir gets the blues

Jun. 16, 2014 @ 05:03 PM

The weather almost seemed too good for a celebration of blues music and its relatives.

The festival’s namesake, Clyde “Pop” Ferguson, and the Original Pop Ferguson Blues Review Band took the stage.

Clyde “Pop” Ferguson of Lenoir, the namesake of the festival, is a North Carolina legend. Ferguson, 86, has played the blues as a traveling musician nearly all his life and plays traditional blues with his son, Clyde Ferguson Jr., the festival’s organizer. They were the first to take the main stage shortly after 1. With his trademark Fender Stratocaster, Pop adjusted his microphone and tapped out a beat with his shoes. With Clyde Jr., on bass, the group started the set with “Give me back my wig,” a blues classic.

Pop Ferguson said he has been playing music for 76 years, and knows now he is a part of history, having been inducted into the U.S. Folkways Museum of the Smithsonian Institute six years ago. Still, he remains humble.

“I give God the credit for everything,” he said in an interview between sets. “He’s number 1. I never thought I would see a festival her in my name. I appreciate the people of Lenoir for coming out.”

Louise Austin and her two grandchildren, 11-year-old Katelyn Hartley and 10-year-old Madelyn Whisnant, got a choice seat in the shade. The girls munched on ice cream cones from the Corner Creamery as they waited for the music to begin.

“Coming to these festivals, you see a lot of people you haven’t seen in a while,” Austin said. “But we’ve been looking forward to hearing some very good blues and gospel music.”