Blind Willie – Out There Somewhere

May 13th, 2015 | By Elizabeth Vance

George Eskola paid a visit to Blind Willie’s grave the day before the festival.

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How Did We Do?

May 11th, 2015 | By Don Powers

We would love to know your thoughts about this year’s festival. Please leave a comment and let us know!

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Festival Photos

May 11th, 2015 | By Elizabeth Vance

We had a great time on Saturday! Hope you did, too! Check out the official photos below.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Fan Mail!

April 22nd, 2015 | By Elizabeth Vance

We received the below note via email yesterday… Thank you Randy from North Carolina for the compliments. We love our fans!
I realize you’re super busy this time of year. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and all involved with putting on this wonderful festival. I missed the very first one and I think only one since then. My wife and I have gone to many music festivals around but the Blind Willie Fest is the cream of the crop. From the parking, vending of great food and drink, tremendous staff and best of all a great entertaining lineup. The family atmosphere and spacious crowd area is relaxing, enjoyable and stress-free. Even with the relatively new addition of shade tents ( which we now partake), there is still not an overcrowding or “jammed up” feeling for anyone. The whole vibe of the festival is for everyone to just have fun and relax, rain or shine. Your musical talent varies from year to year in a good way, always staying true to the blues genre but covering a wide range.
Sorry we will not be in town for the documentary. Hope it is available on DVD at some point. Also the ticket purchasing experience on-line was much easier this year.
Thanks again for all the great effort. It’s much appreciated! See ya’ll soon.


April 8th, 2015 | By Elizabeth Vance

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“Rollicking roadhouse rave-ups and soulful Gulf Coast R&B.” –USA Today

Texas-born, Louisiana-raised pianist/vocalist/songwriter Marcia Ball, touring in support of her latest Alligator Records CD, THE TATTOOED LADY AND THE ALLIGATOR MAN, will headline the Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival in Thomson on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Ball’s groove-laden New Orleans R&B, heart-wrenching ballads and driving Gulf Coast blues have made her a one-of-a-kind favorite of music fans everywhere. Her music mixes equal parts simmering soul fervor and rollicking Crescent City piano. THE TATTOOED LADY AND THE ALLIGATOR MAN is her sixth release for Alligator. Four of her previous five releases received Grammy Award nominations. Ball received the 2012 Blues Music Award (BMA) for the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Of The Year. She has now won a total of nine BMAs and has received a whopping 42 nominations. Ball received a 2014 Living Blues Readers’ Poll Award for Most Outstanding
Musician (Keyboard) and now holds seven Living Blues Awards in all. She was inducted into the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame in 2010 and into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Concert information is as follows:

Date: Saturday, May 9, 2015
Event: Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival
Address: 965 Stagecoach Road
City: Thomson, GA
Phone: 706-597-1000
Showtime: 6:35pm
Ticket price: $30 advance / $40 day of event / children 12 and under free
*See website for complete festival line-up

Marcia Ball has earned worldwide fame for her ability to ignite a full-scale roadhouse rhythm and blues party every time she strolls onto the stage. Her groove-laden New Orleans boogie, deeply soulful ballads and rollicking Gulf Coast blues have made her a one-of-a-kind favorite with music fans all over the world.

On THE TATTOOED LADY AND THE ALLIGATOR MAN, Ball draws listeners deep into her music with instantly memorable melodies and imaginative imagery. Her songs paint vibrant musical pictures, richly detailed with characters, flavors and scenes straight out of Louisiana and Texas. With raucous horns punctuating Ball’s legendary piano pounding and emotional, melodic vocals, the new CD mixes Ball’s New Orleans R&B, swampy Louisiana ballads, and jumping, Tex-Mex flavored zydeco into a one-of-a-kind musical gumbo, a sound she has been perfecting over the course of her four-decade career.

From the poignant Just Keep Holding On to the fresh start of Clean My House to the surprising and timely The Squeeze Is On to the southern warmth of Human Kindness, Ball has delivered a set of songs so well written and so well performed, she’ll astound and delight her longtime fans and give newcomers plenty of reasons to join the party. Featuring her stellar, road-tested touring band, with help from friends Delbert McClinton and Terrance Simien and production by Grammy-winner Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Joe Louis Walker, James Cotton, Susan Tedeschi), THE TATTOOED LADY AND THE ALLIGATOR MAN is happy, moving, joyful, stirring, thought-provoking, danceable and fun.

After a 1978 solo LP for Capitol and a successful series of releases on Rounder, Ball joined the Alligator Records family in 2001 with the release of the critically acclaimed Presumed Innocent. The CD took home the 2002 Blues Music Award for Blues Album Of The Year. 2004′s So Many Rivers, 2005′s Live! Down The Road, 2008′s Peace, Love & BBQ and 2011′s Roadside Attractions all received Grammy Award nominations as well as critical and popular acclaim.

The New York Times says, “Marcia Ball plays two-fisted New Orleans barrelhouse piano and sings in a husky, knowing voice about all the trouble men and women can get into on the way to a good time.” Living Blues declares, “Her originals sound like timeless classics and southern soul masterpieces that no one else can imitate.” Of the new album, Ball says, “I don’t make a record until I have something to say, stories to tell, messages to impart. I try to make records that are true to me,” she continues, “and this one couldn’t be truer.”

CONTACT: PUBLICITY: Marc Lipkin / Chris Levick email:
RADIO: Tim Kolleth email:
p.o. box 60234
chicago, illinois 60660
773-973-7736/773-973-2088 (fax)

Purchase Tickets for the 2015 Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival

February 27th, 2015 | By Elizabeth Vance


Tickets for this year’s 22nd Annual Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival are on sale now. This year, we have three ticket purchasing options. The first is to purchase them directly through our website. The second option is visiting the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce and purchasing your tickets in person. The third option is purchasing the tickets on the day of the event, May 9, 2015.

Click here to purchase tickets through our website.

This year’s festival schedule:

• Bruce Katz Band: 12:00
• Chris Smither: 1:05
• Mingo Fishtrap: 2:25
• Golden State-Lone Star Blues Revue: 3:55
• John Hammond: 5:10
• Marcia Ball: 6:35

The Thomson Chamber of Commerce address:

149 Main Street
Thomson, GA 30824

The Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival site is located at:

965 Stagecoach Road N.E.
Thomson, GA 30824

If you would like to see this year’s festival poster, click here.

22nd Annual Willie McTell Fest Lineup Announced

February 9th, 2015 | By Elizabeth Vance

The Activities Council of Thomson is proud to announce the 2015 lineup for the 22nd Annual Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival, Saturday May 9th. The festival has been bringing great roots musicians and blues players to Thomson, in eastern Georgia, for over two decades. The festival is always held in honor of Thomson’s Blind Willie McTell, an early 20th Century pioneer on the 12 string guitar. McTell played in a variety of musical styles, including blues in the Piedmont style, ragtime, and gospel music. McTell was born in McDuffie County and is buried in the Happy Valley area of the county. His influence extends over a wide variety of artists, including The Allman Brothers Band, who famously covered McTell’s “Statesboro Blues”, and Bob Dylan, who paid tribute to McTell in his 1983 song “Blind Willie McTell”.

This year’s lineup stars Marcia Ball, John Hammond, the Golden State-Lone Star Blues Revue, Chris Smither, Mingo Fishtrap, and the Bruce Katz Band. Tickets will be on sale March 1st at . Prices for tickets are $30 advance and $40, the day of. There is no charge for children, ages 12 and under. Great regional food will again be featured along the food court. Gates open at 11 in the morning, with music beginning at noon.

About the artists…..

Marcia Ball

Marcia Ball

Marcia Ball has played McTell Fest, first in 2004 (with a lineup that featured Pinetop Perkins) and again in 2011. She and her combo put on a dynamite show of New Orleans influenced blues, featuring Ms. Ball on vocals and piano. She had been nominated for five Grammys and has won the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of The Year five times in the last ten years…an award given each May by the Blues foundation in Memphis. Ball’s New Orleans boogie and Gulf Coast blues have made her a one-of-a-kind favorite with music fans all over the world. She’s touring behind her sixth release for Alligator Records, The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man.

John Hammond

John Hammond

John Hammond has been out singing and playing solo blues guitar and harmonica since the early sixties. During this time he’s recorded 35 albums, 8 of which were nominated for Grammy awards. His collaboration with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Koko Taylor and others, called Blues Explosion, won a Grammy in 1985. Hammond was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2012. His 2014 release, Timeless, is nominated for a Blues Music Award this year in the category of Acoustic Album of the Year, along with a nomination for Acoustic Artist of the Year. He has performed or recorded with Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Duane Allman, Mike Bloomfield, JJ Cale, Tom Waits, The Band, John Lee Hooker, Dr. John and many more. He truly is one of the world’s premier acoustic blues artists.

The rest of the lineup is a who’s who of great players. The Golden State-Lone Star Blues Revue is a five-piece, featuring Mark Hummel on vocals and harp, along with guitar greats Charlie Baty and Anson Funderburgh. Baty and Funderburgh have appeared a number of times in Thomson….Anson with The Rockets and “Little” Charlie with the Nightcats. Soloist Chris Smither appeared in Thomson in 2000. He has been playing and singing and writing for over 50 years. Chris comes into town touring behind his career retrospective Still on The Levee, his 17th release. His finger-style guitar playing is rooted in the syncopated blues style of say, John Hurt, and his original tunes have been covered by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Diana Krall and many others.

From Austin, Texas, soul-funk revivalists Mingo Fishtrap bring a soulful, rootsy sound to Thomson this May. This 8 piece band with a full horn section is fronted by songwriter and vocalist/guitarist Roger Blevins Jr. Formed in Texas in the Mid 90’s, they’ve recorded 6 albums. Their latest release is 2014’s On Time. Opening the festival this year will be piano/organ virtuoso Bruce Katz and his combo, the Bruce Katz Band. Bruce played here last year with Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band and has been a mainstay of the New England blues and jazz scene for decades. Bruce’s current album, “Homecoming,” is #8 on the Living Blues Radio Chart and getting heavy radio play on XM/Sirius Bluesville Channel. As an added collaboration for 2015, we’re pleased to announce that Bruce and his combo will play with John Hammond for about ½ of his set later in the afternoon.

Organizers of the festival, the Activities Council of Thomson (ACT) are a non-profit organization founded in 1974. ACT was formed to foster education, appreciation and promotion of American arts, particularly those that draw from Southern history, culture and the American experience. To this end, its primary purpose over the past two decades has been to expose this area of Georgia to styles of music and musicians that, without our effort, would likely pass us by. For our work, we were honored with the Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities in 2014.

For more information visit our Facebook page,, or call 706-597-1000.

22nd Annual Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival

February 4th, 2015 | By Don Powers

When: May 9, 2015

Where: Stagecoach Rd., just off Hwy 78. North of Thomson, GA.

Tickets: On sale in early April
Advanced tickets are $30.
Tickets at the gate are $40.
Children 12 and under get in free.

Vendors: Food trucks, local restaurants and food vendors offer a wide variety of food, from snacks to full meals. Be sure to arrive hungry! The local arts council sets up a booth with blues/music related art and items for sale.

What To Bring: Cash is king! Most vendors do not take credit cards. All seating is lawn seating. Bring a blanket or low-back beach chair, camera, sunscreen. Tailgate tents are allowed in designated areas. No Coolers.

 2015 Line up: Marcia Ball, John Hammond, Golden State-Lone Star Revue, Chris Smither, Mingo Fishtrap, Bruce Katz Band

May 10, 2014 – Festival Photos

May 14th, 2014 | By Elizabeth Vance

There were a lot of great photos taken at the festival. These are from the festival’s official photographer Gene Driskell.

Created with flickr slideshow.


Backstage photos from festival photographer, Gene Driskell.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Giant Stella Guitars

April 23rd, 2014 | By Elizabeth Vance

Three artfully-painted, 7-foot guitars are currently located along Main Street. These guitars are replicas of the Stella guitar that Blind Willie McTell was known to play. 


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