Music Maker Relief Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of the Blues gain recognition and meet their day-to-day needs. Our blog is dedicated to keeping the conversation about these artists alive & thriving.

Diggin’ Preston Fulp – Wedding Bells

Preston Fulp

Made famous by Hank Williams, a sad song of unrequited love. Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel/ but wedding bells with never ring for me. These lyrics fit right into the canon of country music, a song that contrasts beautiful imagery with the damning facts of life. AND it’s about as good a blues as ever was written. Preston Fulp’s falsetto delivery and sweet arrangement on the guitar make you bob your head while asking yourself if it’s right to bob your head to such a sad song.

– Aaron



Here are the official lyrics, Preston has taken some liberties.

Wedding Bells

I have the invitation that you sent me

You wanted me to see you change your name
I couldn’t stand to see you wed another
But dear I hope you’re happy just the same

Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel
That should be ringing out for you and me
Down the aisle with someone else you’re walking
Those wedding bells will never ring for me

I planned a little cottage in the valley
I even bought a little band of gold
I thought some day I’d place it on your finger
But now the future looks so dark and cold

Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel
I hear the children laughing out with glee
At home alone I hang my head in sorrow
Those wedding bells will never ring for me

I fancy that I see a bunch of roses
A blossom from an orange tree in your hair
And while the organ plays I love you truly
Please let me pretend that I am there

Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel
Ever since the day you set me free
I knew someday that you would wed another
But wedding bells will never ring for me.



Diggin:’ Little Pink Anderson’s Walk With Me


One of the best parts about working with Music Maker is being able to put faces to songs after meeting artists in person for the first time. I’ve seen Little Pink Anderson perform here and there, and I’m always drawn to the songs he does that stray away from his more traditional blues ballads. The song below, “Walk With Me”, an acapella dedication to Pink’s sister, journeys through a strong vocal build, and finishes with a hymn style resolve. It’s a song from a portion of Pink’s catalog thats a bit more somber than his usual collection, but I think it might be closer to Pink’s own individual journey. You can definitely feel a deep presence on this one.

— Berk


Diggin’: Dr. Burt – Clock On the Wall



Sometimes at Music Maker, you go down into the music archive, close your eyes, spin around three times, point to the shelf and grab the first thing in front of you. Music Maker CD Roulette! Okay, maybe it’s not exactly like that, but the copious amounts of original recordings available in the archive can certainly be overwhelming. Today I was lucky enough to grab the Dr. Burt CD “They Call Me Dr. Burt” and happened to play the song “Clock On the Wall” first.

This song immediately starts out heavy, reminiscent of a crawling deep blues style, with a growling guitar lick. A really great contrast begins to take shape from Dr. Burt’s melodic lyrics and the heavy crunch behind his distorted guitar. The two compliment each other perfectly, and Dr. Burt’s howling style of song carries this lonesome ballad all the way home. The song practically begs you to sing along. Enjoy!

 — Berk


Young Bluesman Jontavious Willis Visits With Elder Music Makers!


Jontavious Willis by Aaron Greenhood

Jontavious struck the last note of “Big Road Blues” and both Boo Hanks and Jontavious burst out laughing. A musical connection has a beautiful way of closing an age gap of 70+ years. Here they were in Boo’s living room, just two passionate musicians trading songs and stories, quizzing each other on blues history.

Jontavious Willis, 19 years old, from Greenville, Georgia is a natural musician. His guitar remains in conversation with his smooth tenor throughout each song, so natural it feels like hearing a familiar song for the first time. He’s entirely self taught. A couple weeks ago Jontavious called the Music Maker office and said that he had been watching all of the youtube videos we have posted and that he would love to come visit some of the artists we work with. So, we planned a visit. As we rode up to Boo’s place from Hillsborough, Jontavious told us that he has watched every Music Maker video on youtube at least twice. With ungoverned excitement, he listed off his favorites and proceeded to rattle off dates and bios. He stopped to apologize for his enthusiasm.
Boo Hanks was the first blues musician Jontavious had ever met, and he couldn’t hide his joy.

This was an historic moment. When it was time to go, we had to pry them apart.

— Aaron

Diggin’: Ironing Board Sam with Ben Sollee “Summertime”


It’s getting so hot, I believe the cotton is high. The heat feels like being wrapped in a hot wash cloth. At this point, it can only be taken in spurts. The nights are hot, the mornings steam, the afternoons spur delirium – dizzy, sun blinded and giddy we wander around for our cars. Inside, at once feeling what the chicken feels inside a pressure cooker if it wasn’t already lifeless. Cooked alive! Salt and pepper me and hand me a bouquet of parsley! We promised ourselves we wouldn’t complain about the heat this Summer, that we’d relish it, take it day by day and remember those cold months when we didn’t want to go outside even to gather more firewood. These days are really testing that resolve.

 This version of Summertime is a little nugget of a jam Ironing Board Sam had with Ben Sollee when he passed through a couple of years ago. They were introduced down in the MM studio and after some niceties, they sat down and were musical kin before we could even hit the ‘record’ button.
Sam’s keyboard playing is lush and full of intensity, spurred on by Ben’s staccato rhythmic pulsations on his cello and then all at once it opens up into atmospheric ringing notes, and then Sam begins to sing. Genius! We look forward to getting these guys back together again.

— Aaron

Dedicated Volunteer Seeks New Car!

ColemanAsk 2

Macavine Hays, Boo Hanks, Tony Young

In 2006, an unknown Piedmont Blues guitarist joined Music Maker. Now a blues legend, Boo Hanks would not have been known to Music Maker or the world without the efforts of volunteer Tony Young.

On that fateful day in 2006, Tony went to pick up Boo Hanks from his house, then turned around to head for Hillsborough. They arrived at the old Music Maker headquarters where Tony introduced Boo to Tim Duffy and Dom Flemons, who were waiting there for him. After a few words they sat down and started recording what would become Pickin’ Low Cotton, Boo’s first Music Maker release and also his passport to a new life as a renowned country blues guitarist. He has since performed as far as Belgium and in prestigious venues such as the Lincoln Center in New York.

Tony has long been Boo’s biggest fan and a huge help. Tony carries Boo to nearly all of his gigs in his Chevrolet Celebrity Sedan. A few days ago, at 350,000 miles, it kicked the bucket. Tony reached out to let us know he is casting his net wide to look for his next car. He is on a fixed income and has limited funds to work with, so he is looking for a killer deal. We are so grateful to Tony for the many hours of driving he has put in to help Boo in his career, he is a true friend.

Please forward any leads you may have to and we will pass them along to Tony. Thanks!

Diggin’: Dave McGrew’s “Going Home”

Tim's most recent photo of Dave, October 2014

Tim’s most recent photo of Dave, October 2014


The first photo Tim took of Dave, August, 1979

Dave McGrew has spent his life following the harvest as a fruit picker; Lemons, apples, cherries, mangoes, avocados, strawberries, grapes – you name it. His hands have likely been on your fruit. He has also been one of the most die-hard Music Maker supporters and Partners from the beginning. He has helped build two Music Maker headquarters and shared time with countless artists; one of his closest relationships was with Cootie Stark. When Dave was visiting during the Music Maker Homecoming, he told us he had written a song for Cootie and we promptly sat down to record it. We recorded two versions, one with a full band and one with just Tim and Dave. Each take saw Dave overcome with emotion singing through big tears telling Cootie how he’s coming to see him. I have spent entire days listening to this song on repeat, a meditation on brotherly love and longing, unusual and heart-wrenching- enjoy.

— Aaron

Diggin’: Big Ron Hunter’s “Through My Eyes”


Big Ron Hunter was the first artist I met through Music Maker, and I was eager to get to know his music after getting a chance to meet him. We met while MMRF’s Founder, Tim Duffy, was taking a tintype of the Bluesman. Looking at an image of his own genuine smile, Ron confirmed what we were all thinking: “That’s really me. That’s the real me.”

I landed on ‘Through My Eyes’ for this week’s Diggin’, a well-worn ballad with all the touches of time-tested love.

A Winston-Salem, N.C. native and Music Maker artist since 2007, Big Ron brings his own style to acoustic blues and this track is no exception. Ron’s persona and smile exude a kind wisdom, and this track is flowing with that same milk and honey. Skillful guitar blends with Ron’s rich and soothing vocals, resulting in a song that’s perfectly fitting for a slow summer afternoon.

Take a listen and get to know the world’s happiest Bluesman!

– Jenny

Jenny Hicks is our public relations intern for Summer 2015. An avid music enthusiast, Jenny grew up surrounded by a myriad of musical styles and developed a love for finding new artists, new albums and new genres to admire. She is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied Communication and Public Relations. Before coming to Music Maker, she worked with Alamance for Freedom and the Fill Your Bucket List Foundation, where she found a love for nonprofit work. Jenny lives in Mebane, N.C., with a few too many cats and spends her free time collecting vinyl, watching Netflix or hiking with friends. 

Music Maker at Newport Folk Festival hosted by Dom Flemons

2011_07_31 Newport Folk-6-S

Dom Flemons (right) performing at the Newport Folk Festival in 2012.

Last year, I traveled to New Orleans with Ironing Board Sam to help with his performance at JazzFest. While checking into the hotel I noticed a short man with a cane and a golfing cap standing by the desk, smiling, while he waited for his traveling party to check in. I immediately recognized this man as George Wein, the founder of the Newport Jazz and Newport Folk Festivals. George Wein invented the modern music festival and shaped the musical experience for the entire world. I instantly turned to Ironing Board Sam and said, “You should meet this man.” I introduced the two and told Mr. Wein that Sam would be playing at JazzFest this year. Sam and Mr. Wein discussed how excited they were to be in New Orleans. Unfortunately, Mr. Wein’s traveling party finished checking in and they needed to get settled, so the conversation was quite brief, but nonetheless incredible to witness.

It is such an incredible honor for Music Maker to play this historic and still highly relevant festival. Everyone at the office is just buzzing with excitement. The Como Mamas, Ironing Board Sam, Boo Hanks, Ardie Dean, Nashid Abdul and Albert White will all be part of this Music Maker Blues Revue with special guest performer/host Dom Flemons!

– Corn  Lewis

Diggin’: “Do You Know What It Means To Have A Friend?”

TimCaptGabeTim, Guitar Gabriel, Captain Luke

This is a beautiful gospel song that Guitar Gabriel composed the night his mother passed. It asks the question, Do You Know What it Means to Have a Friend? “A friend will tell you, just what to do, turnaround, they’ll turn their back on you.”

My 25 years with Captain Luke reminds me that I do know what it means to have a friend. Since my 20s, Captain has been the one I turned to talk about everything; my family, the business we built together, other MM artists. Captain himself over the years has been a friend to hundred of music lovers.

This track is from our first album, Guitar Gabriel & Brothers in the Kitchen (Toot Blues on the website.) Captain and I were the “brothers in the kitchen,” and I spent a lot of time with him in his kitchen as he build his tin can ash trays, cooked biscuits, and shared many a beer.

So enjoy this track, as we all remember Captain Luke this week, it seemed appropriate to pull out this song sung by his great friend.

– Tim Duffy

Ironing Board Sam is Up to Something…

Here’s a sneak peek at what Ironing Board Sam has been up to. We can’t say anything right now, but stay tuned for a big announcement, coming soon!


Music Makers at Jazzfest 2015

Check out some photos of Major Handy and Ironing Board Sam from last week’s Jazzfest!

Major Handy on the Fais Do-Do stage

Major Handy on the Fais Do-Do stage


Ironing Board Sam debuts his silver suit to a packed Blues Tent

Ironing Board Sam's drummer Kerry Brown lights his sticks on fire!

Ironing Board Sam’s drummer Kerry Brown lights his sticks on fire!


Alabama Slim, Aaron Greenhood, Tim Duffy and Ironing Board Sam backstage at the festival


Ironing Board Sam’s daughter and granddaughters traveled from Alabama to see him!