Thursday, September 16, 2010
Blues alive downtown
By SUE WATSON
A kind of miracle has happened this summer in Holly Springs with the unexpected success of a Main Street promotional event, “Hidden Treasures.”
Organizers say interest and participation in the bikers rally and blues music has exceeded all expectations.
Organizer Charles Terry said two things connected with the Thursday night out at North Center Street have been very positive.
The reference to the area as “Blues Alley” instead of “the alley” as a local hangout has been a very positive new concept, he said. Secondly, several of those local hangouts have been picking up the trash on the street immediately after the party.
“People are pitching in without having to be asked,” he said.
Terry said bikers say they not only enjoy the ride to Holly Springs but the music. Initially, he envisioned a big biker element to the evening and a singer or two with a guitar showing up on the street corner, he said.
About 25 bikers rode in for Thursday night’s rally.
Never in his wildest imagination did he expect the event to turn out to be a major musical entertainment venue, drawing popular bands, he said.
Musician Ralph Waller, who has played every Thursday night with the Tough Street Band since the event began in July, said the turnout of the community to listen and dance to the music “gives us good promotion.”
Musical artists like himself are enjoying entertaining and giving voice to the blues in Holly Springs, he said.
Judy Smith, executive director of Holly Springs Main Street Association - a partnership between the city and Rust College - said some new things are planned for the last Thursday night, September 30.
“Stay tuned,” she said. “Come out. We started with bikes being the attraction, but the bands became the attraction. We need to build this in the community.”
Asked what she likes best about blues night, Smith said, “I love the spontaneity of the bands.”
She praised emcee Willie Wilkerson, who took on the role of inviting the bands to come to Holly Springs. Entertainers perform for free. Smith also likes the family participation and that parents bring their children with them.
“The alley has taken on another flavor,” Smith said. “People are saying ‘Blues Alley.’ What’s so amazing is every Thursday night we see different people. I can’t stress enough how nice they’ve been. People who we do not know come and pick up the trash after the event.
“If we can get people to have respect for and enjoy their hometown, that’s the flavor of it.”
Joining Wilkinson at the microphone, Holly Springs alderman Johnnie Ree Bagley entoned, “Let’s make Holly Springs a place to have fun.”
Bagley, a deputy clerk at justice court, was among those with the court making a presence regularly at blues night. With Bagley Thursday evening were Mae Garrison and children, judge Ernest Cunningham, justice court clerk Monet Autry and constable Don Cothern.
Cunningham has not hidden his enjoyment of blues night.
“It’s a change in atmosphere and it really lifts the spirit of people in Holly Springs,” he said. “I’m certainly enjoying myself.”
Supervisor George Zinn III and alderman Russell Johnson were also present last week.
Musically, local rapper Rodney “Dur Sac” Faulkner was added to the mix with a five-minute spot to promote some music on his new CD “It’s a New Day,” available in October.
Other entertainers included Soul Finger from Memphis, Robert Kimbrough and the Blues Connection of Holly Springs, Duwayne Burnside band, and Ralph Waller and the Tough Street Band.
Extra thanks for undergirding blues night with sound equipment and technical know-how goes to Rust College and Bobby Johnson, station manager with RCTV 2, Wayne Fiddis, station manager of WURC FM 88.1, and students with the radio and television crew. Helpers include Omar Cumberbatch, a political science major from Atlanta, Ga., who loves working with radio and the small town atmosphere of Holly Springs.
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