George Higgs

Location: R.A. Fountain

From the July 11, 2007 FAD:

Higgs, who has released two critically acclaimed CDs on the Hillsborough-based MusicMaker label, has been one of Fountain’s most popular performers, as he alternated playing this crossroads community of 500 with gigs in France, Australia, and throughout the United States. But health problems have limited his performing schedule since he suffered a series of strokes–and renal failure–in the spring of 2006.

Higgs’ wife Bettye, who wrote several songs on his latest CD, Rainy Day, says that his health is good, and that he is progressing well with his rehab therapy, which includes daily singing and playing guitar and harmonica. He performed in Fountain in January, and has recently played in Durham and Wilson to large and enthusiastic crowds.

Higgs is the last of his generation of Piedmont blues artists still living and performing in eastern North Carolina. Developed by itinerant performers around tobacco warehouses in the 1920s and ’30s, Piedmont is a style of blues that features more delicate finger-picking than Delta blues as well as the infusion of other styles of music into its composition. “It was very social music,” said Alex Albright, Fountain General Store proprietor, “and it included a lot of what today would be called ‘sampling’ of the country and popular music its composers enjoy listening to.”

UNC-TV’s Piedmont blues webpage says: “If you could wrap Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee into one package, it would probably look a lot like George Higgs. Not only does Higgs play blues on the guitar, but he also is an artist on the harmonica.” The webpage also includes a video clip of Higgs performing, as well as lots more praise for this unique and excellent musician.

Higgs will perform two sets of about 40-45 minutes each. “He’s not up to a full 2 hours yet,” said Bettye Higgs. “But he’s working on it.”

Tags: blues, Concert, harmonica, original, Piedmont blues