“The Blues Doctor” is performing his guitar magic on the road at Hobcaw Barony near Pawleys Island, SC, on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, 3-5 p.m. Drink Small, the elder statesman of blues and self-described “old guitar player,” is 82 and still performing enthusiastically with his trademark booming voice and boisterous personality. A 2015 winner of the National Endowment of the Arts National Heritage Award, Drink Small has been singing the blues for six decades.
According to Gail Wilson-Giarratano in her biography Drink Small: The Life and Music of South Carolina’s Blues Doctor, he was born in Bishopville, SC, in 1933 to sharecropper parents and actually named Drink Small. He was injured in a wagon accident at a young age and was unable to pick cotton, so he began to sing gospel, joined the Spiritualaires during the 1950s, and chose to sing secular music in the 80s. Despite blindness, Drink has played throughout America and chosen not to travel outside the States, due to his love of America and his dedication to South Carolina.
In Jordan Lawrence’s fall 2015 article in Columbia’s Free Times, Drink’s intricate picking and impressive lyrics are described as “Drinkisms,” statements made in rhyming wisdom and set to soulful blues (“I got a hundred quotes in my throat!”). McKissick Museum’s curator Saddler Taylor says, “Drink has influenced generations of musicians, especially blues guitarists.”
The intimate concert setting provides a chance to hear, see and interact with a blues legend, according to Lee G. Brockington, senior interpreter at Hobcaw Barony. “I learned of an opportunity to book Drink Small through Dale Alan Bailes, former nightclub owner and friend of Drink’s publicist Clair DeLune, who is also host of the WUSC radio program, Blues Moon Radio in Columbia. I first heard him play while a college student in Columbia and thought he was B.B. King! Later, when I heard him perform at Homecoming at the Penn Center on St. Helena Island, I was hooked on the one and only Drink Small! As a NEA Heritage Fellow, he joins the ranks of B.B. King, Mavis Staples and John Lee Hooker. People are so excited about his coming to the Pawleys Island area, and I’m personally looking forward to celebrating this moment in South Carolina history.”
Tickets are $25 and space is limited. Books, t-shirts and CDs will be available for purchase at the concert. To order tickets, visit CLASS (Community Learning About Special Subjects) at Art Works in the Litchfield Exchange, call 843-235-9600 or register online at ClassAtPawleys.com.