Interview with Brian Coleman, Summerville, South Carolina

First Nation drummer Brian Coleman was born in Summerville, South Carolina, where he resides with his wife Shantrice and their daughter, Alijah. Brian is a Tribal member of the Edisto Natchez-Kusso Tribe of South Carolina. He serves as Chairman and Treasurer of the Board for the Tribal Council and the Edisto Indian Free Clinic. As a musician, he is a member of the Edisto River Singers Drum group, with whom he regularly performs at pow wows and other functions. He received his degree in electrical engineering from South Carolina State University and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Charleston Southern University, and continues to work as an electrical engineer.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/09/2020.

Interview with Gregory Hodges, Spartanburg, South Carolina

South Carolina-based blues musician Gregory Hodges has spent years touring with and performing with a number of different acts, including Col. Bruce Hampton and the Code Talkers. He relocated to New Orleans for a number of years and got a chance to perform with a number of his musical heroes, including George Porter, Art Neville, Hubert Sumlin, Aaron Neville, Lenny Kravitz, Charlie Musselwhite, Dr. John, Tom Jones, and more. After more than half a decade in New Orleans, Hodges relocated back to South Carolina, where he is the front man for the Gregory Hodges Band, which features Tez Sherard on drums, Frank Willkie on bass, and Aaron Bowen on keys.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/01/2020.

Interview with J. Michael King, Greenville, South Carolina

J. Michael King is a composer, writer, and accomplished Piedmont blues musician. He plays in the time-honored style of bluesman Reverend Gary Davis, a Laurens County native who played throughout Greenville and Spartanburg counties during the 1930s and 40s. The guitar stylings of South Carolina bluesmen like Blind Willie Walker, Josh White, and Pink Anderson are central influences. He apprenticed under Ernie Hawkins, who studied with Gary Davis in the mid-1960s. King has composed and performed music for four documentaries by filmmaker Stan Woodward, including Puddin’ Pot, a short film produced in 2002 exploring the community-based foodways tradition. He was instrumental in co-producing a recording of Piedmont blues classics entitled Blues Haiku. King also produced his own albums, Carolina Bar-B-Q and Meat and Three, two collections of Piedmont blues and string band music featuring tunes about South Carolina’s distinctive cuisine. King plays frequently with fellow musicians and Folk Heritage Award recipients Steve McGaha and Freddie Vanderford and has presented the South Carolina blues story to thousands of students and tourists throughout the state. He conducts educational programs about South Carolina Piedmont blues for Southside High School and the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, Hagood Mill Historic Site & Folklife Center in Pickens, and the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia. King received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 2018.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/14/2020.

Interview with Vanderford, Buffalo, South Carolina

Growing up in Buffalo, South Carolina, Vanderford first learned to play the mouth harp, or harmonica, from his grandfather, who played “old mountain songs” on the instrument. Initially, Vanderford blended the country style of his grandfather with the sound of the Chicago blues. However, an encounter with the Piedmont blues of Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson would forever change Vanderford’s musical style. As a knowledgeable cultural historian and traditional performer, Vanderford is highly sought after for his performing and recording talents. Vanderford received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 2010.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/14/2020.

Interview with Willie Wells, West Columbia, South Carolina

Willie Wells, the son of the late Bill Wells, has always been on the music scene. Since the early ‘70s, Willie has played drums and sung lead and harmony vocals. Willie and another musician friend organized a country music group called CHOYCE that ran for more than twenty years. With early country music and bluegrass influences from his father, Willie continued to develop and expand his musical direction toward recording studio production. In the past ten to twelve years, Willie has shifted more toward continuing the bluegrass legacy of his father. Being inspired by his father to play guitar and to be at the helm of the “Blue Ridge Mtn. Grass” band (BRMG) that his father started some forty years ago, Willie is keeping his father’s wishes to preserve bluegrass music in South Carolina. Today, the band is a mix of traditional and contemporary bluegrass with some new arrangements of old songs as well as a mix of original songs. Willie Wells & The Blue Ridge Mtn. Grass first album title, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, continues to promote bluegrass music throughout the area. Willie is also the owner of Bill’s Music Shop & Picking’ Parlor in West Columbia, South Carolina.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/14/2020.