The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden brought the blues to Belmont, North Carolina May 20-21 of 2017. Rain loomed large over the Lost Hollow Music Fest, but the blues men who played didn’t seem to mind. The crowd was sparse and the energy was electric. Guitar players young and old took to the stage to make the music that spawned rock and roll.

The band shelter is tucked into Lost Hollow next to a small lagoon.

Karen and I went for a short boat ride on nearby Lake Wylie, before heading to the garden. We were fortunate to see the Moreland and Arbuckle band perform. They are breaking up after a 15-year run together that included playing on the same stage as ZZ Top, George Thorogood, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and Los Lonely Boys.   

The Moreland and Arbuckle band came on at 2:00pm and rocked the place.

Between bands we cooled off in the A/C of the main building with a showing of Live From the Double Door Inn: A Documentary. Charlotte’s Double Door Inn was known as “The Oldest Blues Club in The United States Under Original Ownership.” After 35-years the “The Oldest Live Music Venue East of the Mississippi” is bowing to insurmountable renovation costs required by current building codes.

From Clinton, Mississippi, by way of Chicago, Jerekus Singleton ended the first day with his brand of soulful and intense blues.

The weather worsened, the crowd grew thinner and the Blues kept coming on Sunday when we returned. Lest you think the Blues are just for old folks, 13-year-old Nathan Pope started the day with some inspired Blues licks of his own.

Nathan first played guitar at age 2, and could play by ear in the first grade.

My favorite musician was Abe Reid. Abe growled his lyrics with a gravelly voice, wailed on the Blues harp, and ripped his guitar chords with reckless abandon. He made people want to shout like the crowd in a tent revival.

Ricky Jones, Abe’s front man, told me, “This is the first time Abe has played with these other guys.” it didn’t keep Abe from playing ferocious Blues.

Mac Arnold & Plate Full o’ Blues closed the festival. Mac was born on a sharecropper’s farm in Ware Place, South Carolina on June 30, 1942. Mac and his 12 siblings lived the blues and his music was pure, old school and heartfelt. 

Mac played with James Brown in his early days and hired on with Muddy Waters’ band in 1966.

Mac’s base licks are prominent in the opening theme song of Sanford and Son.

Mac’s brother Leroy made his first guitar from a steel gas can, wood, nails and screen wire.

The Blues have been handed down from the old masters to eager young pickers for generations. Abe Reid stayed for all of Mac Arnold’s set and Nathan Pope hung around to learn from all the experienced players. The sky finally opened up and it poured rain during Mac’s show, but the spirit of the Blues was never dampened.

Abe Reid and Mac Arnold shared some blue notes at THE END of the final set.



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