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Vintage Blues Chestnuts: Jeff Norwood puts a Carolina spin on Delta blues

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"I try to play at cool places," says Camden-based Carolina singer/guitarist Jeff Norwood. "If they aren't necessarily blues venues, I turn them into one, at least for the night I'm there. If I got three people in there who wanna hear some blues, that's all it takes. I just go straight for the throat. If families are eating with their kids and stuff, I'll start off with some crossover stuff ... then I'll go for the throat. Like I learned out in Mississippi."

Norwood grew up Chesterfield County, S.C. He worked on his family's farm, driving the tractor "from dawn 'til dusk ... and then some" and playing guitar on the side. He gigged around the Piedmont, playing roadhouses, juke joints, and small get-togethers. "I've played some pretty rough places and had to learn real quick how to keep folks happy whatever it took," he says.

Working mostly as a rock singer/songwriter, Norwood was tapped to play the King Biscuit Blues Festival (now the Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival) in Helena, Ark., in 2004. The experience inspired him to dig deeper into the Delta and country blues genres and actually detour into the realm as a blues artist himself.

"That went so good," he remembers. "I was able to meet so many of the older cats and get really down into it. It gave me the confidence I needed. I know the flavors are different in S.C., but when people say you can't do this and you can't do that, man, that's bullshit. You're basically in failure mode to start out with, so I got emboldened and started whipping out the down-and-dirty stuff. It wasn't really a plan; it was something I felt passionate about doing. That's why it worked." —T. Ballard Lesemann

Jeff Norwood performs solo at Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ (1205 Ashley River Rd., 225-RIBS) on Thurs. June 28. Showtime is around 10 p.m. No cover. Check out www.jeffsblues.com and www.hometeambbq.com for more.

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