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Greenville Gets A Nice Case of the Blues

Brett Barest on the Upstate Music Scene

View This Week’s Concert Calendar

My appreciation of the blues goes back to when I was a kid and my Dad always had stacks of BB King and Muddy Waters records and CDs laying around for me to get acquainted with. As with a lot of music, I did not fully grasp the energy of the genre until I consumed it live. That experience came around the age of 13 when my parents took me to see Buddy Guy at Greenville’s brand new entertainment venue, The Peace Center.

At the time, Buddy Guy would have been in his 50’s which, in my young mind, was ancient for a guy who walked off the stage and played his guitar as he walked around the concert hall amongst the crowd. His energy and mastery of his instrument are still vivid in my mind as I knew I would always be a fan of the blues, no matter what other styles and influences might come my way. I have stayed true to that prediction and still consider the blues to be, arguably, my favorite genre of music for most of my adult life.

Fortunately for those that share this opinion, there are a bunch of opportunities to indulge in various blues stylings in and around Greenville over the next few days.

TONIGHT: Todd Albright @ The Radio Room

For blues in its purest and rawest form, tonight’s show at the Radio Room is not to be missed. Todd Albright is a powerful voice in the blues community with a devotion to the traditions of pre-WWII blues masters. This is the blues as I most enjoy it – a guy picking the strings of his guitar and singing his stories as he might have on his front porch 100 years ago. For his part, Albright is finger picking at a 12 string guitar making him the only 12 string player on today’s scene and delivering a totally unique style to his sound.

Hailing from Detroit, Albright recently signed to Third Man Records after catching the ear of Jack White. Paying homage to the greats that came before him, from Blind Willie McTell to Leadbelly, Albright perfectly captures the sound of American roots music for modern audiences. His visit to The Radio Room is definitely going to be a memorable one that guests will be talking about for a long time to come.

Learn more at toddalbright.com

Thursday-Saturday: Mac Arnold’s Cornbread & Collard Greens Blues Festival @ Commerce Park, Fountain Inn

The Upstate’s own blues legend Mac Arnold needs little introduction. His career has seen him play bandmate to the likes of James Brown, Muddy Waters, and countless others. His signature bass line will be forever heard on reruns of Sanford and Son and his gasoline can guitar is as “blues” a thing you will ever see and hear in your life. 

This weekend the 13th Annual Mac Arnold Cornbread & Collard Greens Blues Festival will be held in Downtown Fountain Inn and will see Arnold joined by other great blues men and women for a great weekend of music. Wanda Johnson, SONG Band, Jaguar 4, and Johnny Drummer will each take a turn opening things up over the festival’s three days. Even better, the annual event is a charitable one with proceeds going to support Arnold’s I Can Do Anything Foundation which raises money to buy instruments for elementary students.

Saturday: Matt Walsh & The Movers @ Velo Fellow

I thought the aforementioned four days of blues would fill the Upstate’s blues needs but then I ran across this show at Velo Fellow Saturday night. While Matt Walsh’s bio cites a blend of influences that includes everything from rock to jazz, the foundation rests upon driving blues guitar riffs that are music to my ears. I continue to be pleasantly surprised at the quality of music Velo Fellow continues to bring to Downtown Greenville and this week is no exception.

Hailing from North Carolina, Walsh was exposed to early 1950’s electric blues at a young age and, listening to his music today, it is obvious that it never left him. Sprinkle in a world of other musical influences and you have a unique, original sound that is firmly tied to American roots music. Performing with his rhythm section The Movers, this is going to be a great way to spend a Saturday evening in Greenville.

Learn more at mattwalshmusic.net

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