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Meet the Rev. Marv Ward, blues guitarist, poet and author

Post Date:06/13/2017 10:26 AM

Index Journal

By:  ST. CLAIRE DONAGHY

Meet the Rev. Marv Ward, blues guitarist, poet and author during his book-signing and meet-and-greet from noon-1:30 p.m., July 7 at McCaslan's Book Store and Office Supply, 208 Main St. in Greenwood

Ward, 70, is no stranger to the South Carolina Festival of Discovery in Uptown Greenwood. The Columbia-based blues guitarist, who hails from Lorton, Virginia, has played the festival's Blues Cruise before.

He's part of this year's Blues Cruise lineup too, playing at The Mill House from 8-11 p.m.,July 6, as well as his book-signing and meet-and-greet at McCaslan's July 7 from noon to 1:30 p.m.

He's also a retired producer/director for South Carolina ETV for Richland School District 1.

"When I was still in high school, I got to go to this club – The Bayou – in Washington D.C.," Ward said. "On Wednesday nights, there was a guy in there playing, Mississippi John Hurt, who was 'rediscovered'."

Ward said Hurt's style and guitar licks had "a profound effect" on his own music.

"On one of my CDs, I stole one of his licks and used it to do a re-arrangement of an old Coasters tune," Ward said. "I wrote a little dedication to him. The Rolling Stones were also influenced by him."

B.B. King, Freddie King and guitarist Rick Hickman are also favorites of Ward's.

Ward said all music listened to imprints his style.

"I did my first performance when I was 10 years old, at a local volunteer fire department talent show," Ward said. "I started out as a drummer. My first professional job with a band was when I was 16, as vocalist in a band that played in D.C."

Ward said he was "into folk music, but had a rock 'n' roll heart," experimenting with different genres of music, as both a solo performer and with various bands.

He was bestowed with the nickname, "Rev" for his tendency to "orate and preach a bit while inebriated," Ward said. 

Ward said he wanted to call his band Marv Ward and the Blessed Souls, but he didn't feel "quite right about it."

So, Ward got officially ordained online.

"The blues have influenced me forever," Ward said. "People often tell me they hear it in my music, whether I'm playing a blues song or not."

Ward's book, "One Lone Minstrel," is a collection of poetry he has written over his years in music, both early and contemporary works, numbering more than 100 pages. It is an imprint of Broad River Books, part of Muddy Ford Press.

one lone minstrel

To be released June 21, Ward said he plans to have copies at McCaslan's when he's here in July.

"It's kind of a memoir," Ward said. "The poetry is much more personal and much more intense than my songwriting."

"The late '60s and early '70s were a wild time," Ward recalled, noting that he once kissed Joan Baez, under a tree, in Truro Park in Newport, Rhode Island. "I got heavily influenced by Eastern philosophy. The Zen philosophy says about poetry that you don't own it. You are just a conduit to bring it to light.

"For about half a decade, most of the poetry I wrote was written on the walls of rooms. Then, I met this young woman, a painter. She would write a line on a bar napkin and I would write a counter line."

A bulletin board in Ward's home contains bar napkins with words written on them.

"That is my little working thing," Ward said. "Sometimes, it's songs and sometimes, it's poetry."

One of the poems in "One Lone Minstrel" is titled "Bar Napkin Blues." All the book's poetry is written as prose.