Acoustic duo embodies a living Greensboro blues tradition

by Jordan Green

“You ought to know that we were both that close,” says Logie Meachum, showing a space of about a quarter inch between his forefinger and thumb, “to being millionaires, panning for gold in Alaska.”

Meachum reminisces with his music partner, William “Bubba” Klinefelter, on the sidewalk in front of the Guitar Center near Four Seasons Mall, where Klinefelter is taking some time out from his lunch break to entertain questions from a reporter.

It was the fall of 2000. About a year earlier, Meachum had been drafted by the NC A&T University theater department to write the music for David Richmond, a play inspired by the late activist whose demand for service at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960 helped spark the direct action phase of the civil rights movement.

“I knew Bubba could play a mean harmonica,” Meachum says. So Bubba, also known as “Bump” from his previous band Big Bump & the Stun Guns, signed on. Thanks to the success of the play, Bump & Logie were invited to play a set at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The momentum carried them to Alaska, where they found an enthusiastic audience. Klinefelter had a baby daughter back home who was 10 days old. Meachum’s wife was pregnant with their second child. They made the call to rein in their ambitions.

“They love us in Alaska,” Meachum says. “They’re always trying to get us back.”

Meachum and Klinefelter go way back with the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, the group responsible for organizing the Carolina Blues Festival. Klinefelter describes himself and his wife, Shiela, as “cornerstone performers” in early blues society events. Shiela Klinefelter took a turn as vice-president of the organization. So the acoustic act of Bump & Logie as opener for an afternoon of scintillating classic blues could be considered a natural fit.

Bump & Logie play the acoustic blues with a rollicking and full-bodied approach that sounds too big to come from acoustic instruments. Fittingly, these bluesmen lack nothing in self-confidence. To appreciate their full power, Meachum suggests, they should be heard in their plugged-in incarnation with Shiela Klinefelter on bass and Chuck Cotton on drums. The full quartet plays under the moniker of the After-Hours Blues Band. All four, Meachum points out, are winners of the blues society’s Keepin’ the Blues Alive Award.

All of them are busy workaday musicians, and Bump & Logie is just one of many configurations that allows them the flexibility to accommodate demanding schedules and limited venue budgets.

The After-Hours Blues Band “is who we really wanted to open it,” Meachum says. “They couldn’t follow us because we would be so hot. All that money they paid them big boys to come here, we’ll kick their ass.”