Hello, I'm Cool John Ferguson. I was born in December 1953 on St. Helena's Island, one of the Sea Islands of South Carolina. I've been playing the guitar since I was three. When I turned five, I started gigging in the Pentecostal church of my family. 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.I was featured entertainer for Lowcountry Sing on Channel 5, CharlestonSC, for three years, appearing with the Ferguson Sisters, an outstanding gospel trio.
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 play naturally, 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.
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 BeaufortHigh 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.
Iíve been active on tent revival circuits, played with LaFace Records of Atlanta, GA, and collaborated with several well-known artists including Taj Mahal, Kenny Wayne Shepard, BB King, the Stylistics, Beverly Guitar Watkins, Captain Luke, and others. Iíve been honored by Living Blues Magazine for two consecutive years as ďMost Outstanding Guitarist.Ē I started doing tours of blues festivals and clubs around the world including Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors, Lucerne Blues Festival, and Switzerlandís Blues to Bop Festival, Australiaís Byron Bay Blues Festival, Word of Mouth, the Savannah Music Festival, Columbia Blues Festival, and many others throughout the world. Iíve 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.
Taj Mahal stated that I rank ďamong 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.Ē Give me a listen and you decide!
I've just finished work on a new CD - "With These Hands." It presents fifteen new originals, ten with vocals, and is more of an R&B record than my previous work, but it has a lot of rock, funk, blues, love songs, and even a little Caribbean and Brazilian flavor in the mix as well. It's packed with hot leads and cool vocals. A drummer friend of mine from High School - Ian Davis - has produced, engineered, and drums on this, and I'm very happy with it. This is my first release on my new label Cool John Records!
Do me a personal favor - when you get a chance, come out, see a show, buy one of these new CDs, and help me celebrate the rich musical tradition of my roots.