I recently was able travel with the Music Maker crew to Southern Pines, NC for the 15th annual Sunrise Theater Blues Crawl. After helping to coordinate the event, it was exciting to see months of planning fall into place.
When we arrived in Southern Pines, we made our way around to every venue, speaking with friendly staff members, setting up sound equipment, and enjoying the buzz of conversation throughout town. The sunshine and warm breeze had brought out a crowd long before any show started, and people were excited about a night of good blues and fun.
As we got closer to showtime, artists began to arrive and I was able to meet more Music Makers than I ever had in the past. It was a bit like a family reunion, with people asking who was already in town and who had yet to arrive. Everyone seemed to be excited for everyone else’s shows, and the scale and uniqueness of the event really hit me- this was a special occasion, a time of celebration and fun, with some of the most talented blues artists I’ve ever heard.
Down at the Sunrise Theater, Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen was getting ready for her set, the first of the night. As she made her way on stage, I learned very quickly why Mother Blues got her name, and experienced culinary heaven on earth- her homemade jambalaya which she brought with her backstage.
As the night got going, we made our way around town, and were impressed by the large crowd that was already out for the Crawl. As the sun set, we made our way to several shows: Robert Lee Coleman making his guitar sing at the Jefferson Inn, the Screaming J’s rollicking tunes at Rhett’s Restaurant, and the peaceful and powerful presence of Boo Hanks, with just his guitar and hundreds of stories to tell, at the Eye Candy Gallery.
After Cool John Ferguson’s lively and life-altering set at the Sunrise Theater, I had a moment to say hello to his drummer for the night, Bubba Norwood. “I was born with drumsticks in my hands,” he told me, as he described how he comes alive when he plays the drums. This is how it seemed with every artist that night- a dedicated passion and commitment to the craft was evident in every solo, in every beat.
When the night came to a close, and the drive back to Hillsborough was underway, I was able to reflect on what I had experienced for the past 8 hours. I was able to witness firsthand the wonderful relationships that have been built through Music Maker, and appreciate afresh the importance of its mission- these traditions are too precious to lose!