In 1992 Denise and I drove from Winston-Salem to Tarboro, NC, to meet Piedmont Bluesman George Higgs. At the time it seemed like a big trip – a four-hour drive east. We had heard George at a concert in Greensboro in 1988 but had not heard about him performing anywhere else since then. Meeting with George was wonderful, but seeing this great artist without a proper instrument to his name was disheartening.
His guitar had no strings on it, and he only had a couple very worn harmonicas. He spoke a great deal about his old partner, but told us that since he was gone he had not played much. He told us about his young friend Scott Anslie, who had played some shows with him for a time, but had since moved from town. Music was something that had seemed to be slipping away from George Higgs. I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen. Over the next couple years I would often stop by and pester his friend Lightnin’ Wells, who lived nearby, to stop by and visit George. Soon, Lightnin’ and George were playing local shows together. It was Lightnin’ that arranged a recording session at his home with George, and these recordings became George’s first solo release.
Since that first visit with George, Music Maker Relief Foundation was started, and we have been able to provide him with numerous guitars, and even another recording. George traveled with Music Maker to Australia, Europe and around the United States. Locally in North Carolina, George Higgs has become well recognized for his musical talents, performing all over the state. In the last few years George had some major set backs with his health and has been only able to perform at those NC gigs, but in the past year his health was such that local shows had to mean in his own town.
During George’s health battles, Music Maker has provided George with a monthly stipend to help with household expenses. Coming into the end of this year, George has been terribly sick and has been in and out of the I.C.U. At the age of 82, his family has gathered round him as his health declines, supporting their patriarch. Fans throughout the State and across the country have George Higgs in their prayers – in the last 20 years of his “retirement” George has touched so many hearts with his music, keen wit, and his warm personality. Our hearts and prayers are with the Higgs family during this difficult holiday season.
– Tim Duffy