Sixth Pop Ferguson blues festival 'branches' out

Jun. 10, 2014 @ 05:26 PM

This year, the annual Pop Ferguson blues Heritage Festival is shaking things up a bit, adding variety and expanding its scope of music.

This year’s theme of “Roots, Branches and Stems” pays homage to the foundations and the distant horizons of the Piedmont Blues -- from the foundations of Pop Ferguson, Phil Wiggins and John Dee Holman, expanding to influence bluegrass and rock and roll, and even further out to hip hop and popm said Clyde Ferguson Jr., organizer of the festival named for his 86-year-old father.

This is the first time the festival has featured artists that play genres other than blues, Ferguson said, though he said it’s all part of holding true to the event’s mission statement: “to promote, preserve and advance the culture of blues music as an art form in America.”

“Blues is the roots to all other authentic American music,” Ferguson said, adding that he feels this year’s theme encompasses the previous five years’ themes, which included “The geography of the blues,” “Piedmont Blues” and last year’s “Women of the Blues.”

The festival will again bring top-tier blues performers to downtown Lenoir, including iconic harmonica player Phil Wiggins, Durham-based Piedmont Blues pioneer John Dee Holman, and of course, Pop Ferguson himself.

“Last year, we had four Grammy Award winners, this year, two or three have been nominated, and you’ll probably see them win one pretty soon,” Ferguson said.

The festivities start Friday, June 13, with a block party the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, where Ferguson said his father used to sit out by a tree and play the blues, just down the street from major juke joint, the Buckohollar.

Ferguson said he’s heard from people planning to travel to Lenoir from as far as Spokane, Wash.

People from across the country are “coming to Caldwell County to see our blues shows,” he said. “That means we are bringing part of the world here to see and we’re showing Caldwell County folks parts of the world (they’d) never see.”

The 2014 Pops Ferguson Blues Heritage Festival opens with a free block party 6-8 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, 313 Greenhaven Drive NE in Lenoir.  An open jam session then will be held at The Alibi, 915 West Ave. NW, from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Blues on the Grass featuring Grammy Award-winning Barbara Carr, Rosa Russ and Cool John Ferguson, will be at the Delk House, 415 Hibriten Ave. in Lenoir, starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person at Delk Law Firm, 757-0783.

The street festival will be 1-10 p.m. in downtown Lenoir, with acts beginning at 2 p.m. at the square downtown and Hogwaller Stage on Church Street.