Monthly Archives: May 2016

Deep Grooves and Hot Licks


 Ronnie Earl & The BroadcastersHaving the blues is a good thing at this annual concert in Thomson.

A small town event offers big time appeal at the 23rd annual Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival in Thomson. Musicians travel from across the country to entertain audiences at the festival that is named in honor of the Thomson native and blues guitar pioneer of the early 20th century. This year’s concert lineup includes Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, Cash Box Kings, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Deslondes, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton and Bruce Hampton and The Madrid Express.

Although few of McTell’s recordings earned mainstream popularity, his influence on the modern music and art scenes is well known. Some of his songs, including “Statesboro Blues” and “Broken Down Engine Blues,” have been recorded by famous artists such as the Allman Brothers, Taj Mahal and others.

Concertgoers are welcome to bring blankets and chairs for lawn seating. No pets or coolers will be allowed. Regional food will be available for purchase at the food court.

Pulling Strings
The annual Blind Willie McTell Music Festival is not the only way Thomson is honoring the legacy of its native son and influential blues musician. McTell’s 12-String Strut, a public art project featuring a dozen 7-foot polyurethane replicas of 12-string Stella guitars, is recognizing his musical contributions year-round. 

The 12-string Stella guitar was McTell’s instrument of choice, and local artists have created designs for the guitars that are on display in Thomson and McDuffie County. The public art display combines art and history to provide interpretation and everyday exposure to the musician’s legacy.

The guitars in downtown Thomson – the central location of the display – include an audio box that tells McTell’s story and plays samples of his music. The project coincides with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Year of Georgia Music, which will promote tourism with the state’s musical heritage, superstars and venues throughout the year. The guitars will remain on display for three years.  

If You Go:

What: Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival

When: Saturday, May 7; gate opens 11 a.m.; music begins at noon

Where: 1021 Stagecoach Road N.E., Thomson; (follow I-20 west to exit 172; take a right off exit ramp) 

How Much: $30 in advance; $40 at gate

More Info:

Joy Ride


Joy RideIs there a better way to celebrate National Bike Month in May than the 24th annual Lock to Lock Ride? While this ride will be just like the previous rides in many respects, the event will include a special tribute before the pedaling begins this year. Wheel Movement of the CSRA, a nonprofit organization that supports the local cycling community, will honor the late Andy Jordan, who passed away in October. He founded Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse and initiated the bike ride.

“He started the ride to show people what you can do with your bike locally and what we have to offer here. And it shows non-cyclists how many people do ride bikes in the area,” says his son, Drew Jordan, co-owner of Andy Jordan’s and coordinator of the ride. “It’s going to be an emotional day.”

Before the ride, Wheel Movement will dedicate a bike station, which will feature a plaque that honors Andy Jordan, at the canal headgates at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. The bike station will include air pumps and other bicycle service tools. 

“Andy was a vital part of cycling in the community. He remains with us in so many ways,” says Jim Ellington, Wheel Movement president. “We just felt like we wanted to do something in memory of Andy because he did so many things for those who enjoy cycling.”

The fact that the ride rolls on almost a quarter century after Andy Jordan founded it is a testament to his legacy as well. Each year more than 200 people participate in the ride, which begins at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. Cyclists can choose between two distances – 18.5 miles to the New Lock and Dam or a 37-mile round trip. Riders who choose the 18.5-mile option will need to arrange return transportation at the New Lock and Dam. 

The bike route follows flat, scenic terrain on hard-packed dirt and asphalt roads along the Augusta Canal. Fireside Outdoor Kitchens & Grills will prepare a meal at the New Lock and Dam, and some lucky riders can win door prizes there as well. Powerade and snacks will be available at rest stops along the way, and the ever-popular Sno-Kone machine will be set up at Augusta Commons for the return trip. Pre-registered riders will receive a T-shirt as well.

“It’s a good way to spend the day with your family. It’s a very family friendly ride, and it’s catered to recreational riders,” says Drew. “The ride back is very pretty because the sun is starting to drop a little bit.”

Cyclists must wear a helmet and have a bike that is in good working order. Hybrid/cross bikes, mountain bikes or comfort bikes are recommended. Riders also should bring water, additional snacks and a flat tire repair kit. Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, or SORBA-CSRA, members will be available along the route to help riders if needed.

“We use all of the proceeds to improve cycling in some way,” Drew says. “We always try to put the money back into the community to make things better for local bike riders.”

If You Go:

What: Lock to Lock Ride 

When: Sunday, May 15; 12:30-1:30 p.m. sign in; 1:45 pre-ride briefing; ride starts at 2 p.m.

Where: Savannah Rapids Pavilion 

How Much: $25 if preregistered by 6 p.m. Thursday, May 12; $35 day of event 

More Info: (706) 724-2453 or