Official visitor information site for Durham, NC

Bull Durham Blues Festival

Bull City Summer Blues

One of the South's great musical traditions, the Blues, found a special home in Durham in the 1930s. Each summer, visitors to Durham have the opportunity to experience the Piedmont Blues, a long and historic finger picking blues guitar tradition, in its birthplace.

While the origins of the Blues can be traced back as far as the pre-Civil War era when slavery pervaded the South, the Piedmont blues developed in tandem with the post-war development of the tobacco trade. Blues singers often performed in and around the downtown tobacco warehouses where farmers, businessmen and street vendors congregated to conduct business.

The Piedmont Blues style was adopted throughout North Carolina and up and down the East Coast.  Blind Boy Fuller, Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Buddy Moss, Washboard Sam and Sonny Davis were among the musicians who popularized the Piedmont Blues. It garnered national recognition and adoption through the success of Fuller’s 1940’s release “Step It Up and Go” sold over half a million copies.

The Blues have helped define Durham as a community as well as contribute to Durham’s musical heritage. “Durham is the music city of the Piedmont,” said bluesman Bobby Hinton, adding that Durham is a “Blues city.”

Hear the Piedmont Blues this July 4, 7-8 at the Festival for the Eno and keep an eye out for the Bull Durham Blues Festival line-up!

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October 3 - 3, 2014

Moonlight & Starlight Paddle

Enjoy the wildlife, soak in the moonrays & starshine, and experience the sounds of nature. These very leisurely paddles are suitable for just about anyone. Pre-registration required. Cost $25 per person (canoe), $30 per person (kayak).

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