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The Johnston County Visitors Bureau BLOG is published weekly with news and feature articles on visiting the county.

Blues Giant James “Superharp” Cotton Headlines Clayton’s Sixth Annual Blues Bash

All shows in the 2010-2011 Palladian Series begin at 8 p.m. in the renovated and historic 600-seat auditorium at 111 E. Second St. in downtown Clayton, located about 15 miles east of Raleigh.

Tickets for Blues Bash VI: Superharps can be purchased by phone at 919-553-1737, at The Clayton Center Box Office from 10 a.m. until noon and from 1 until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at www.theclaytoncenter.com.

CLAYTON, N.C – Between his huge sound, his larger-than-life personality and his massive frame, Grammy Award-winning blues harmonica master James “Superharp” Cotton is a blues giant in every respect.

Cotton, who in 2010 celebrates his 66th year as a professional musician, headlines The Clayton Center’s Blues Bash VI: Superharps on Friday, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. The event also features local Piedmont bluesmen Tad Walters Trio.

Over the course of his 66-year career, James Cotton has seemingly done it all. As a small boy he learned harmonica directly from Sonny Boy Williamson. He toured with Howlin’ Wolf, recorded for Sun Records and spent 12 years with Muddy Waters before stepping out on his own. Leading his own band, he rose to the very top of the blues and rock scenes, touring the world non-stop and earning his reputation as one of the most powerful live blues performers in the world.

Cotton was universally renowned as one of the hardest-touring and most popular blues artists of the 1970s. His acrobatic showmanship – he often did somersaults on stage – and full-throttle blues kept him in demand at concert halls all over the country. He continued to record and perform throughout the 1980s and won a Grammy Award in 1996 for his album Deep In The Blues.

Cotton’s honors are numerous. He was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 2006 and was honored by the Smithsonian Institution when one of his harmonicas was added to its permanent collection.

Throughout this decade, Cotton has continued to record – his latest release is the 2010 Giant (Alligator Records) – and tour relentlessly, electrifying audiences all over the world. Today, while turning over the singing duties to his road band, Cotton can still blow the reeds right out of a harp.

Tad Walters, who was born in Canton, Ohio, and raised in Raleigh, was influenced by the likes of Blind Boy Fuller, Robert Lockwood, Charlie Patton, Robert Nighthawk and John Jackson, among others. He began his professional music career with the Bob Margolin Band in 1996. For four years he traveled the world with the band, playing with musicians like Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Billy Boy Arnold and Cary Bell.

In 2001 Walters joined the Big Bill Morganfield band and stayed until 2004. He currently concentrates on Piedmont blues and old-time jazz with Dave Andrews.

All shows in the 2010-2011 Palladian Series begin at 8 p.m. in the renovated and historic 600-seat auditorium at 111 E. Second St. in downtown Clayton, located about 15 miles east of Raleigh.

Tickets for Blues Bash VI: Superharps can be purchased by phone at 919-553-1737, at The Clayton Center Box Office from 10 a.m. until noon and from 1 until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at www.theclaytoncenter.com.

The fifth show in the Palladian Series is Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel on Saturday, Feb. 26. Reserved seating for Tommy Emmanuel is sold out. Standing Room Only tickets are on sale for $15.

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