Jeff Little Trio, photo taken during performance at MerlefestJeff Little is a bluegrass, blues, honky-tonk, jazz, rock-in-roll piano player. There aren’t many. That’s why he’s “The Piano Man of the Blue Ridge.” Former National Banjo Champion Steve Lewis (guitar, banjo) and bass player Josh Scott will join Little. National Public Radio has described Little as “…a remarkable musician, steeped in the tradition of his native Blue Ridge,” as well as “a virtuosic and eclectic innovator.” Join PineCone and the Town of Cary in welcoming the Jeff Little Trio back to the Triangle! They will perform a free concert in Cary’s Sertoma Amphitheatre in Bond Park on Saturday, May 11 beginning at 5 p.m.
Little comes from Boone, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge, one of America’s richest regions for traditional music. So it is perhaps not so surprising that he began playing piano at age five. His family ran Little’s Music Store in Boone, where musicians of all types frequently dropped by to play a tune. Among those was Doc Watson, a neighbor and close family friend whose music helped shape Little’s unique piano style. While Watson was a keeper of deep Appalachian traditions, he also pioneered the flat-picking of intricate fiddle melodies on the guitar.
A professional musician since the age of 14, Little is experienced with traditional jazz, old-time, country, bluegrass, rockabilly, and blues. With a rack-mounted harmonica and vocals, he can also be a one-man show. He settled in Nashville for a while, where he worked as a session man in between stints on the road, and he also worked with a wide range of commercial country artists, most notably Keith Urban. In 2004, he returned to the Blue Ridge to direct the Music Industry Program at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, North Carolina.
Little frequently appeared with Doc Watson and is a regular at the Merle Watson Memorial Festival in Wilkesboro. He has released four CDs and has been featured on National Public Radio several times. Little has taken his exciting piano style around the world on U.S. government goodwill tours, performing in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bahrain, Oman, France, and Tanzania. Other performances include The Smithsonian Institution, The National Folk Festival, and The National Council For The Traditional Arts “American Piano Masters.”
With few exceptions, the piano does not play a prominent part in Appalachian music, and it is rarely the lead instrument. But Little is an exception – and a remarkable one. His distinctive two-handed style, much influenced by the mountain flatpicked guitar tradition, is breathtaking in its speed, precision and clarity. (adapted from The National Council For The Traditional Arts)
And save these dates for other upcoming free concerts in Cary this spring and summer:
• Erin McDermott – Sertoma Amphitheatre, Saturday, June 15, 2013, 6 p.m.
• Snyder Family Band featuring Bluegrass Music Camp Students –
Page-Walker Arts & History Center Garden, Friday, June 28, 2013, 7 p.m.
• Brian Horton Quartet – Sertoma Amphitheatre, Saturday, July 13, 2013, 6 p.m.
Bring your friends, blankets, cushions, picnic baskets (no alcohol!), or lawn chairs and enjoy an evening of live music in Cary’s beautiful parks.
PineCone – the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, Inc., is dedicated to preserving, presenting, and promoting all forms of traditional music, dance and other folk performing arts. PineCone was incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization in 1984.
The role of PineCone is to increase the visibility of Piedmont music and musicians and to provide public programs and educational resources about the depth and breadth of cultural expression in the region today. PineCone is the largest and most active traditional music organization in North Carolina measured by people served, budget size and total number of programs presented. PineCone supports the livelihoods of working artists, inspires and connects fans, educates youth and adult audiences, documents traditions, and provides opportunities for musicians to learn from one another. Each of the three elements – preservation, presentation, and promotion – plays an important role in ensuring the continued vitality and viability of traditional arts in North Carolina’s Piedmont.