Each year, the sleepy southern town of Thomson, Georgia relives its musical roots with a big bash — the Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival. The festival honors the genius of McDuffie County’s hometown son, Blind Willie McTell, recognized as a master of the acoustic guitar by the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1990 and by fans worldwide.

The festival attendance, a one day event fundraiser for the Activities Council of Thomson, has grown over the years from a few hundred to now thousands of people from all over the country. Headliners from across all genres come together for an all day jam session; past artists included Little Feat, Delbert McClinton, and Geoff Acheson. This year’s roster features an impressive line-up; Grammy nominated – Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue kick off the festivities. And, the sweet ballads of Marcia Ball, the driving guitar of Sonny Landreth and the homespun harmonies of Thomson’s very own Crosstie Walkers are among the talent that will keep you swing’n in the Georgia sunshine.

Save the Date: May 21, 2011 (Rain or Shine) 

Location: Open Field – Stagecoach Road in Thomson, GA ( just 30 minutes west of Augusta, GA & one hour from Columbia, SC)

Gates open at 11 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m.  FREE Parking.

Outside Food, beverages or pets are NOT permitted.

But do not dismay… there is a Beer Tent and food from some of area’s best restaurants!

Tickets: Adults: $25 in advance ;$30 at the Gate  (children 12 and under are free)

Advance tickets can be purchased online or you can pick up tickets in town at the Thomson-McDuffie Convention & Visitors’ Bureau office on Main Street prior to date (cash only).

Contact the Thomson-McDuffie County Tourism Office for travel planning information and special overnight lodging packages.

Open Air/Open Lawn Seating – so don’t forget to bring a blanket or low-back beach chair and lots of sunscreen.

Don’t be late…last act is at 7:30 p.m.

For a full schedule, directions, festival tips and more – visit the official festival website: www.blindwillie.com

 Photos courtesy of Gene Driskell.