Lightnin' Wells - North Carolina Folk Festival

The Presentation of Lightnin’ Wells was curated by the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society.

2021 NC Folk Festival Blues Performer, Lightnin' Wells
Eastern NC
Piedmont Blues

Lightnin' Wells

Mike “Lightnin'” Wells breathes new life into the vintage tunes of the 1920s and depression era America employing guitars, harmonica, ukulele, mandolin and banjo in a dynamic style, developed in over 50 years of studying and performing blues and traditional folk music. With his experience, knowledge and well- honed performance skills, Lightnin’ Wells has established himself at the forefront of the traditional blues revival. His musical style is personal and energetic yet remains true to the original root form. His goal is to entertain and educate using a variety of sources, influences and techniques to express his dedication, respect and pleasure in presenting this unique American art form.


Originally from West Virginia, he grew up in Eastern NC, immersing himself in the traditional folk music revival, and developing a strong interest in Piedmont and country blues. His style encompasses elements of the blues, country, gospel, old- time, bluegrass and folk. Mark Coltrain stated in Living Blues that, “You won’t find a more versatile musician around – able to move deftly between country blues, old-time banjo, and novelty tunes with a single pluck.” His many years of public performance began in Chapel Hill, NC in the early 1970s.


During the following decades he has presented his brand of acoustic blues throughout North Carolina, the United States and Europe. As part of his ongoing musical education, Wells sought out still living Piedmont performers, which led him later to produce the first commercial recordings of second-generation N.C. blues veterans Big Boy Henry, Algia Mae Hinton and George Higgs.