Through the gospel song “Shout Hallelujah” The Glorifying Vines Sisters told the audience Sunday through a powerful harmony to “clap your hands if you really love Jesus.”
Behind them, 74-year-old James “Bubba” Norwood tapped on his drum set.
After the sisters were done, Harvey Dalton Arnold took the stage and delivered his blues message.
People in the crowd at the Hillsborough’s Picnic in the Park with Music Maker Relief Foundation said they were enjoying the gospel, rock and blues music, but many didn’t know about the talent that played before them and the wave of fame those artists once rode.
Norwood, of Carrboro, toured with Ike and Tina Turner for about 10 years.
Ike and Tina’s drummer left while their group was playing in the area, and Doug Clark, of Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts, sent them to Norwood’s mom, who negotiated a touring contract for her son, said Aaron Greenhood, program manager for the Music Maker Relief Foundation. The Hillsborough-based nonprofit seeks to preserve Southern musical traditions by supporting the musicians who make the music.
“So that was the beginning of 10 years on the road with Ike and Tina. He has played at every major stadium in the country. He played with James Brown. He was a ghost drummer for The Monkees when they went on tour,” Greenhood said.
“He’s got some great stories.”
Scott Korb, who lives in Chatham County, said he came to the festival at the Eno River Farmers Market pavilion with a friend. Korb was enjoying the music, he said, but he didn’t know about Norwood’s and other’s history.
“Oh wow,” Korbs, 47, said when he learned more about Norwood. “Impressive.”
It’s actually the fourth annual Picnic in the Park, but the first time that The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough partnered with the Music Maker foundation and asked the organization to program all the music.
Sarah DeGennaro, executive director of The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough, said both organizations are working to preserve the authentic culture of the south.
“The goal (of Picnic in the Park) is really to bring people out to experience authentic music,” DeGennaro said, “and we are trying to celebrate the Independence Day holiday with cultural conservation in mind.”
This area is famous for gospel music and Piedmont Blues, Greenhood said, and these traditions have influenced all popular music.
The Music Maker foundation not only seeks to support the musicians making the music by offering financial support and connecting artists to jobs, but to help people who live in the same community as the artists to hear and know more about theses unique and talented assets.
“The goal is for people to have a great time and to enjoy their shared cultural heritage,” Greenhood said.
The Glorifying Vines Sisters, a gospel group based in Eastern North Carolina, have been playing for about 45 years and have traveled across the country. They are currently preparing to take their music to Switzerland in August.
Harvey Dalton Arnold helped sell millions of albums as a member of Southern-rock band The Outlaws in the late 1970s. He’s played at Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. He’s shared the stage with The Rolling Stones at Anaheim Stadium. Thomas Rhyant’s Sam Cooke Revue and Cool John Ferguson were also featured at the Sunday festival.
Norwood, who has been playing since he was 14, said Sunday during a break that he’s just glad to still be playing.
As he talks and move his hands, muscles and veins, developed through years of playing the drums, ripple across his forearms.
Everyone has a gift, he said, and playing the drums is his.
“I am thankful. At the age that I am, I am still playing and playing well,” Norwood said. “I couldn’t ask for more.”