Deep Winter Blues set for Saturday at Hagood Mill

PICKENS — It has been cold and bleak outside, so to heat things up, Hagood Mill will present “Deep Winter Blues” from noon until 3 p.m. this Saturday.

Steve McGaha

Steve McGaha

Upcountry South Carolina is a historical Mecca for the Piedmont blues. Throughout the 1920s and ‘30s, the streets of Laurens County, Greenville, Spartanburg, and Anderson reverberated with the music of bluesmen/street preachers as they were strolling with their tin cups extended.

Many of these musicians became famous on the streets of New York City in the folk revival of the ‘50s and ‘60s. It is that tradition that is celebrated each February at Hagood Mill.

This year’s lineup features Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award winner and bluesman Steve McGaha, with blues historian and musicologist Hunter Holmes playing some red hot blues. Attendees will be able to hear the old music that made Upstate South Carolina a famous “roots environment” for the Piedmont Blues — some tunes primitive in nature and others coming from the sweet soul of the South Carolina bluesmen of long ago.

There will be lots of other things to see on Saturday as well, as Hagood Mill hosts a variety of folk life and traditional arts demonstrations. There will be blacksmithing, bowl-digging, flint knapping, chair-caning, moonshining, broom-making, basket-making, pottery, quilting, spinning, knitting, weaving, woodcarving, metal-smithing, bee keeping, leather-working and more. Visitors can ask questions of the artists and make a purchase of their traditional arts to take home. As always, event organizers encourage visitors to bring their favorite old-time instruments and join in on the “open jam” which takes place throughout the day under the ancient cedar beside the site’s 1791 log cabin.

The centerpiece of the Hagood Mill historic site is the water-powered 1845 gristmill. It is one of the finest examples of 19th-century technology in the Upcountry and operates just as it has for the last century-and-a-half. The mill will be running throughout the day. In the old mill, fresh stone-ground corn meal, grits, and wheat flour will be available. In addition rye flour, Basmati rice flour, oat flour, oatmeal, popping corn meal, and grits, organic yellow corn meal and grits, and buckwheat flour are produced and may be available.