SINGING THE BLUES: BCTMA hosts a night of ‘dynamite picking’Published 5:37pm Thursday, February 21, 2013
If you try to call Lightnin’ Wells and get his answering machine instead, it’s okay. It’s really no hardship to listen to his original outgoing message sung and played in the style for which he’s known: piedmont blues, a tradition that once thrived in the Carolinas.
Wells takes the stage at the Union Alley Coffeehouse Saturday night in Washington and while many may have seen him perform solo, this time he’s bringing the band.
They’re called the Carolina Yellow Hammers — Wells’ on guitar, Frankie Harrison on mandolin, vocalist John Booker on bass and another vocalist, Lane Hollis, on banjo and fiddle — and they’re known as “superpickers,” or players’ players.
Wells is certainly well known on the festival circuit — playing North Carolina music festivals Merlefest and Shakori Hills multiple times, interspersed with performances at Chicago Blues Festival and the Lincoln Center Gospel and Blues Festival in New York City, among many others.
Bob Burtman wrote in Spectator Magazine that Wells was “a veritable bottomless pit of songs and techniques. Wells should be declared a state resource, placed on the endangered species list, and given his own habitat to practice his craft.”
In between educational opportunities, — Wells performs regularly in North Carolina schools — recording five albums over his career, including a children’s album, “Jump Little Children: Old Songs for Young Folks,” and producing albums for piedmont blues artists Algia Mae Hinton and Big Boy Henry, Wells still finds time to get together with fellow pickers the likes of which make up the Carolina Yellow Hammers.
Linda Boyer, chairman of the Beaufort County Traditional Music Association, described Saturday night’s performance as “an evening of traditional folk songs telling stories of times past, blues songs of long lost loves, add a sprinkling of country, gospel and some dynamite picking.”
The show starts at 7 p.m., tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for BCTMA members.
Union Alley Coffeehouse is located in the back of the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, 158 W. Main St., Washington. For more information about BCTMA, visit www.bctma.org.