Sanford’s connection to the Piedmont Blues musical tradition will soon be on display in downtown, thanks to the City of Sanford Appearance Commission’s upcoming mural depicting local blues guitarist Floyd Council and regional blues musician Pink Anderson.
The main focus of the mural is Floyd Council, who lived on Oakdale Street from the 1940s until his death and is buried in an unmarked grave in Moncure. During those years, Council was known to entertain guests and host young guitarists who would try – and fail – to out play him.
Blues musician Pink Anderson is the secondary focus of the mural. Anderson and Council were both featured on a Blind Boy Fuller album called Country Blues: 1935-1940. The sleeve of that album caught the eye of Syd Barrett, the front man for London rock band The Tea Set. Barrett changed the band’s name to Pink Floyd, and the rest is history.
The Piedmont Blues mural has been championed by local musician Chad Spivey and British transplant Ray Williams, who has been in the music business for nearly 60 years. Williams discovered Elton John, introduced him to lyric writer Bernie Taupin, and managed Elton for his first five albums.
“While chatting about music with Chad, we noted that Sanford and England are connected by Piedmont Blues music and Pink Floyd,” Williams shares. From that conversation, the two decided to spearhead fundraising to bring a mural honoring Floyd Council to fruition.
“The Piedmont Blues mural celebrates the cultural contribution of African Americans to the Piedmont blues tradition, especially the contributions of Floyd Council and Pink Anderson,” Williams says. “Music transcends geography and time. We hope people feel that sense of timelessness and wonder when they see the mural – and that we can capture Sanford’s special place in musical history.”
Piedmont Blues will be the first large exterior permanent mural in North Carolina for Pittsboro-based muralist Britt Flood, who has completed several smaller scale public art projects in the state and several large murals out of state. The mural will be located in the public parking lot across from the Temple Theatre on Carthage Street.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to create an eternal ode to these two uniquely talented musicians,” Flood says. Her design uses cool tones to express a “wistful creative spirit” and references the pine trees of our region, Council’s days as a busker, the connection to Pink Floyd, and the tradition of “talented homegrown musicians practicing on their front porch and singing the blues,” she shares.
“I'd like to think Floyd and Pink are somewhere out there sitting on a front porch together, fingerpicking and shrugging the night away amongst the stars,” Flood muses.
This will be Sanford’s 14th mural since the public art program began in 2015, but the first one honoring Sanford’s musical heritage, notes City Planner Liz Whitmore, who serves as the public art liaison for the Appearance Commission.
“We are thrilled to showcase Sanford’s past, present, and future as a musical destination by honoring Floyd Council, who has family that still lives here, as an adopted son of our city,” Whitmore says.
The mural was funded by private donations made to Friends of Sanford, the City of Sanford’s 501(c)3. The project is managed by the City of Sanford.
Piedmont Blues is anticipated for completion in the late fall. A dedication and celebration of the mural – and Sanford’s musical tradition by extension – is scheduled for May 13, 2023.
For more information about the Piedmont Blues mural or the City’s public art program, contact City planner Liz Whitmore at 919-718-4657 x5393 or via email.