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.”