PICKENS — Did you know that Upcountry South Carolina was historical Mecca for the Blues?
Throughout the 1920s and ’30s the streets of Laurens, Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson counties reverberated with the music of bluesmen, street preachers and buskers — all strolling enthusiastically with their tin cups extended.
Many of these musicians became famous on the streets of New York City during the folk revival of the 1950’s and 60’s. It is this tradition being celebrated on Feb. 17 at Hagood Mill.
With an all star lineup that features two Folk Heritage Award winning bluesmen, Freddie Vanderford and Steve McGaha, along with 2018 South Carolina Folk Heritage nominee J. Michael King, you know it’s gonna get hot on a Winter’s day.
The mission on Feb. 17 is to “keep the embers hot all day,” said Billy Crawford of the Mill. To ensure this, they went out and secured a couple of local barn burners, Brandon Turner and Mac McCloud, to “stoke the coals with some red hot blues of their own.”
The stage is likely to ignite with this scorching lineup, but no need to worry, Mill workers state they will have their fire extinguishers on standby … just in case.
The party gets started at 10 a.m. with the live music kicking off around 11:30 a m.
“If you’ve never had the privilege to witness or experience the sweet and fiery soul of original South Carolina Piedmont Blues then you should do yourself a favor and head out to Hagood Mill,” said Crawford. “It will be a day well spent.”
In addition to the music, there will be lots of other things to see as well: Hagood Mill is hosting 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, bobbin lace and leather working demonstrations.
“We encourage visitors to ask questions of the artists, gain insight and, if you wish, spend a little money to secure a traditional arts treasure of your own,” he said.
As always, visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chair or blanket for the show but they’re also welcome to bring their favorite old time instruments and join in the “open jam” which typically takes place throughout the day under the ancient cedar beside the 1791 log cabin, Crawford said.
Of course, the centerpiece of the Hagood Mill Historic Site is the water-powered 1845 gristmill.
“It is one of the finest examples of nineteenth century technology in the Upcountry and operates just as it has for the last century and half,” said Crawford. “The mill will be running throughout the day.”
In the old mill, fresh stone ground cornmeal, 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.
Hagood Mill cookbooks and a variety of other mill related items are also available.
There is a $5 parking fee for the day but admission is free to the Hagood Mill Historic Site as well as to the Hagood Creek Petroglyph Site.
All proceeds from parking help offset the costs at Hagood Mill.
The Hagood Mill Historic Site is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. year round. The Mill operates, rain or shine, the third Saturday of every month.
Both the Hagood Mill Historic Site and the Hagood Creek Petroglyph Site are at 138 Hagood Mill Road in Pickens.
For additional information, contact Hagood Mill at 864-898-2936.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.