Vines, Freeman

Making Guitars & Sense of the World

Freeman Vines photographed by Jeffery Minnish, Fountain, April 2021

Freeman Vines, a Greene County native and long-time Fountain resident, is a blues musician, luthier, author and philosopher. Most days, he’s at work on another guitar at Music Maker East’s downtown Fountain workshop/studio.

We’ve never booked him for a show here, but every now and then we’ll hear his blues slipping out the back door of his studio a few doors up from us. Freeman came to the attention of Music Maker’s Tim Duffy by way of another Fountain musician, Lightnin’ Wells, who has worked with Music Maker and several of its legendary blues musicians for over 20 years.

His first book, Hanging Tree Guitars, about his life, his phiklosophy, and his handmade guitars and wood sculptures that were featured for several months at the Greenville Museum of Art and then at other galleries.

He’s also featured in MusicMaker’s newest book, Song Keepers (February 2024), which further establishes the nonprofit’s growing Fountain footprint.

Freeman is the brother of the legendary local gospel group the Vines Sisters, also known as the Glorifying Vines, who got their first European tour a couple of years ago through arrangements with Music Maker. Freeman almost got to England in 2020 to view the opening of the first gallery show that featured some of his guitars.

In addition to the local buzz over his show at the Greenville Museum of Art, Freeman has generated a lot of copy, with features in Rolling Stone, the Smithsonian, Our State, and on NPR, and he gets plenty of visitors. In early April 2020 the photographer Jeffery Minnish, who lives in Durham, stopped by and took several excellent pictures of him. A Goldsboro native, Minnish specializes in portraits of musicians, cowboys, street folk, and dancers, and his webpage is lots of fun to browse.

Last fall, the French photographers & journalists Louise Oligny and Patrick Artinian stopped by for a visit and an impromptu jam, with Louise on trumpet.

Freeman Vines photographed by Jeffery Minnish, Fountain, April 2021

We don’t get to hear Mr. Vines perform often around here, but early in the pandemic, spring 2020, he was messing around with one of his newly constructed guitars, and I was able to capture this little tune:

Alex Albright
February 1, 2024

Freeman Vines photographed by Jeffery Minnish, Fountain, April 2021