Blind Willie McTell, one of the true pioneers and all-time greats of country blues guitar, was born south of Thomson, Ga., in the area known as Happy Valley in McDuffie County. He was inducted posthumously into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1990. (He died in 1959.)
The Thomson-McDuffie County Tourism Board hosted the 1st Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival in October of 1993. Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, featuring Sam Myers, headlined. The overcast day finally gave way to rain during Funderburgh’s set, but the band had enough cover to stay dry: they kept the crowd rocking into the night.
Approaching its 15th year, the festival has continued to grow with normal attendance in the 2,000 plus range. An array of talent from around the U.S. make the trek to east Georgia each year to play the festival.
Past Headliners and Performers:
2007: Delbert McClinton, Francine Reed, Rory Block, The Wiyos, John Nemeth, The Breeze Kings
2006: Chuck Leavell, Randell Bramblett Band, Sean Costello, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Steve James & Del Ray, Devil in a Woodpile, Crosstie Walkers.
2005: Marcia Ball, John Hammond Trio, Little Charlie & the Nightcats, Maria Muldaur.