Yesterday I attended the 33rd Annual Carolina Blues Festival at LeBauer Park in downtown Greensboro, NC. With an array of artists, local and international, the event is the longest-running blues festival in the Southeast. It’s hosted by the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, a non-profit organization founded in 1985.
It was a warm and beautiful day to spend listening to some blues music. The tickets were $20 per person and the event was from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm with 5 different acts in the line-up. I brought a blanket for the lawn, my own water, some company, and of course some cigars.
Included in that line up is today’s artist, jazz and blues vocalist, Melva Houston. She had an easy, laid back air about her as she engaged the audience. She sang covers of crowd favorites as well as original songs. She positively killed it in a rendition of “At Last.” I enjoyed her music so much, I wandered to the back of the crowd so as not to be rude, and lit up a Drew Estate Undercrown maduro while my companion, Kevin, lit up the shade version.
The Maduro is adorned by a San Andreas wrapper and rich Brazilian and Nicaraguan fillers. The wrapper is pleasantly dark and oily. This particular cigar has an uneven draw that causes some canoeing. However, created as the ‘baby brother’ to the Liga line it lives up to the taste standards I would expect. It starts out with notes of coffee much the same way Melva’s first song wakes up my desire to enjoy the day.
Melva shows good natured spiciness during banter with her bandmates, jokingly calling out her drummer for overexcitement before singing “Black Drawers.” Melva’s smoky voice mirrors the copious amounts of smoke from the Undercrown. The cigar taste also echoes Melva’s attitude, with a slight hint of black pepper that becomes progressively stronger throughout the smoke.
It was a wonderful pairing and the crowning hour and a half of my day at the festival. I took home a love of Melva and determined to learn more about her. A native of Memphis, Tennessee she launched her career as a back up vocalist for Isaac Hayes and has toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe but found her greatest fame in Germany.
I discovered that it was just this past March that Melva made a come back tour after a 2016 diagnosis of lung cancer that caused a 2 year absence from the music scene. There was an outpouring of love and support during her time of need, from both the music industry and her home town of Mount Airy, with the coordination of various fundraisers to help assist with medical bills.
The irony that listening to Melva prompted me to smoke a cigar is not lost on me.
All I can say is thank you to Melva’s support network for helping her pull through so her musical career could continue. My day would not have been as beautiful without her performance. Nor would my life be as rich as it is now with the discovery of her music.
You can keep up with what the dynamic musician is up to next by following her via Facebook.