Now in its 23rd year, the Bull Durham Blues Festival, a program of the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation Inc. is North Carolina’s largest celebration of the blues, with fans attending from more than 175 North Carolina cities, 25 states and five countries. This year it presents blues megastar Buddy Guy, vocalists Bettye Lavette, Ruthie Foster and New Orleans’ The Wild Magnolias along with artists with North Carolina connections. Triangle group Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos bring a Zydeco/Cajun flavor to the festival, and M.S.G. – The Acoustic Blues Trio performs traditional Piedmont blues.
For Gastonia native Mel Melton, what started out as a short visit to Louisiana in 1969 turned into a music career that included singing and playing harmonica with a Zydeco band called Bayou Rhythm. He went on to Chicago to pursue another love, Cajun cooking and brought both skills back to North Carolina in 1990. Today, he’s the proprietor of Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse in Durham, commuting from his farm in Yanceyville to serve up a mixture of Cajun cooking, live music and dancing for an appreciative Triangle clientele. His current band, Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos, will take the stage at the Hayti Heritage Center on the opening night of the Bull Durham Blues Festival.
If you’ve still got an itch for the blues this fall, the Music Maker Relief Foundation’s Annual Warehouse Blues Series returns for a seventh year from Sunday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 3. The free concert series features Music Maker artists including Cool John Ferguson and Bubba Norwood on drums (Sept. 12), Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen with Bubba Norwood along with Proffitt & Sandidge (Sept. 19), Drink Small and Hubby Jenkins (Sept. 26) and Big Ron Hunter and Kelley & the Cowboys (Oct. 3). Concerts take place from 5 to7 p.m. in Durham Central Park, 502 Foster Street, Durham. For more information, visit http://www.musicmaker.org or call (919) 643-2456.
Although he was born in New York City, Moog synthesizer inventor and electronic music pioneer Robert Moog lived the last 30 years of his life in Asheville until his death in 2005. Now Moogfest, the annual music event held in his honor in New York City, is moving to Asheville for the first time. The three-day festival, held in venues throughout the city will feature musical performers including Devo, Van Dyke Parks (collaborator with the Beach Boys, U2 and Bonnie Raitt) Clare and The Reasons, The Disco Biscuits, Ikonika and many others. There will be panel discussions and workshops with artists, opportunities for interactive experiences with a variety of Moog instruments, visual art exhibitions, installations and film screenings from Friday, Oct. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 31. For more information or to order tickets, visit http://moogfest.com.
The Kruger Brothers, Jens on banjo and Uwe on guitar, have been mainstays at the Happy Valley Fiddlers’ Convention since its inception. Born in Switzerland and playing music professionally since 1973, their first visit to North Carolina resulted from an invitation to play Merlefest 1997, and since 2003 they have made their homes in the region. It’s their love of traditional music that brought them here and keeps them here.