The 26th annual Bull Durham Blues Festival—scaled back to just one day this year—is a homecoming for Big Daddy Wilson, who grew up in Edenton, N.C., but wound up married overseas after a stint in the service. Though his family had played country and gospel around the house, he'd never heard blues before frequenting the clubs in North Germany. He's released seven albums over the last decade, including his latest, I'm Your Man
. His voice is crisp and avuncular; imagine Burl Ives as a soul brother. He's explored electric and acoustic blues and injected jazzy sophistication; on his early albums with Doc Fozz, he dipped into Piedmont folk-blues.
Atlanta's Claudette King, B.B. King's youngest daughter, made her American debut with 2010's We're Onto Something, showcasing a big soulful voice. It's more R&B than straight blues, though there's a bit of everything, from gospel to jazz pop and even some of her dad's blues stylings. Local talent rounds out the bill, including the sultry torch and blues swing of Rhonda Robichaux (winner of last year's Triangle Blues Challenge), the sweaty electric blues of Los Angeles transplant Jimmy Haggard and rocking Chapel Hill young turk Jason Damico with his band the New Blue.