Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor
Troy University, in conjunction with the Alabama Blues Project, will present the main event of the Wiregrass Blues Fest. It will pay tribute to the late Clarence “Pine Top” Smith.
Smith was the first to record the “boogie woogie” style of piano playing. He was born in Orion and was raised in Troy. He earned his nickname as a child by continuously climbing pine trees.
Smith was a self-taught pianist and played with some of the blues greats . He made his way up north to Pittsburgh and eventually Chicago.
He recorded the widely influential “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie” in Chicago, which was released in 1929.
Smith wasn’t only a piano player but also a comedian. He had a narrative style that was unique to him, and he is now even considered one of the forefathers of rap.
In 1991, Smith was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, and he has influenced many genres such as blues, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, rap, and jazz.
Some of the performers include: Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots, Scarlet Blue, Li’l Jimmy Reed, and the Alabama Blues Women—Debbie Bond, Shar Baby, and Rachel Edwards.
The Wiregrass Blues Fest will start two days previous with a free educational performance with Debbie Bond and the TruDats on May 1 at the Wiregrass Museum of Art’s Great Hall. It will start at 5:30 p.m. and people in attendance will be able to browse through a gallery of text panels featuring the Alabama Blues Women.
At 6 p.m. that night, there will be a short presentation on Smith’s life, which will be followed by a performance with Bond’s group.
The Blues Fest will be at the Wiregrass Museum of Art’s Yard on May 3. Gates will open for the Blues Fest at 6:15 p.m. with music starting at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $15, and $20 at the door.
Tickets can be purchased at the museum or online through the Facebook page www.facebook.com/WiregrassBluesFest.