COOL JOHN FERGUSON
Cool John Ferguson was born on St. Helena's Island, one of the Sea Islands of South Carolina.He learned to play the guiar at the age of 3. By age 5, John played gospel music professionally and astounded musicians ten times his age. John was the featured entertainer for Low Country Sing on Channel 5, Charleston SC, for three years, appearing with three of his sisters, the Ferguson Sisters, an outstanding gospel trio.
“You can hear some of that gospel flavor in my playing, a lot of traditional African music mixed with the field and spiritual music. A lot of my people came out of the Gullah tradition, with roots in Western Africa, hard work and a hard life on the plantations, and worship in praise houses.” It used to be hard to play anything but gospel music. My parents thought music should only be used to praise God, and that's true, but all the music I played was praise. In the late '60s, Earl Davis moved to Beaufort, SC. He was the chorus and band director at Beaufort High School. He had come out of the Army band at the same time Wayne Shorter was doing his service. Earl had an R&B band and, whenever I could, we'd play gigs at juke joints, military clubs, Elks and VFW clubs, really anywhere we could.”
Early in life John made a decision to follow his dream of becoming a renowned guitarist, pianist, and singer. He has made his dream a reality. He has formed bands playing psychedelic music, rhythm and blues, pop and jazz. John’s fingers just seem to glide effortlessly across the guitar strings as his audience watch in amazement.
“Music for me has always been a way to give praise for life and its gifts, but it has also been a way to celebrate with my friends, fellow musicians and excited audiences. When I play a show, I try to capture the spirit of the room and give some of that spirit back to everyone, amplified and transformed into something pure and beautiful.”I learned to playnaturally, hearing gospel or music on the radio and TV and records that my parents and sisters had around the house. I'd learn everything I could get my hands on, it didn't matter where the music came from, I just learned it all - TV themes, blues, R&B, jazz, gospel - it all came in my ears and out through my hands.”
John has spent his life traveling where his music leads him. He has performed at many concerts and major blues festivals throughout the United States and abroad, including the Savannah Music Festival, Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors, Lucerne Blues Festival, and Switzerland’s Blues to Bop Festival, Australia’s Byron Bay Blues Festival, and many other festivals throughout the world. World class indeed. Taj Mahal claims that “Cool John Ferguson is among the five greatest guitarists in the world. He is a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. He is with the ranks of Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhart.” But if you’re in his neck of the woods you might find him honing his serious chops in a local dive. “I’ve kept my feet in the juke joint tradition, playing a whole lot of Saturday nights at All Peoples Grill in north Durham, NC and other clubs in North Carolina, South Carolina, and surrounding states.” For indubitable evidence, take a look at his “Come Down Hard’ video clip. It will convince you that Taj’s superlatives are no lie, and question why in blazes that you’ve never heard of him before?
John is very versatile. You never know what he’s going to play next. He seamlessly combines styles of gospel, blues, funk, country, jazz, and rhythm and blues. He has been active on tent revival circuits, played with LaFace Records of Atlanta, GA, and collaborated with several well-known artists throughout the world, including Taj Mahal, Kenny Wayne Shepard, BB King, Beverly Guitar Watkins, and the Stylistics. He has provided sound tracks for countless events. John has been honored by none toher than Living Blues Magazine for two consecutive years as “Most Outstanding Guitarist.”
Cool John has his own record label “Cool John Ferguson Records” and recently released a new CD entitled: “With These Hands.” Check it out, Cool John digs it.
“Come Down Hard” :