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JSMHM Features Jeff Little – “The Piano Man of the Blue Ridge” – at July 20 Concert

The Jeff Little Trio consists of (from left to right): Luke Little on the mandolin, Jeff Little on the piano and harmonica and Steve Lewis on the banjo and guitar. 

Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music is pleased to announce the return of Boone native Jeff Little and his Trio on Saturday, July 20, for a concert at the Harvest House Performing Arts Venue in Boone at 7:30 p.m. Little is a bluegrass, blues, honky-tonk, jazz, rock-n-roll piano player. He’s one-of-a-kind, that’s why he’s called “The Piano an of the Blue Ridge.” His distinctive two-handed style, influenced by the mountain flat-picked guitar tradition, has been described as breathtaking in its speed, precision and clarity.

Rodney Sutton, director of JSMHM, announces, “There has been a recent shake-up in the members of the Jeff Little Trio. Long-time band member Josh Scott has ‘retired’ to focus on his full-time job as a house builder. But Jeff did not have to look far to find a third member for the trio, his son Luke has been joining him on stage for years and has now become a full fledge member of the trio.”

Little explains, “Luke has quickly became an outstanding mandolin player. He began playing mandolin at age 15, and in just a few years, he has won many competition ribbons, including first place at the 2018 Ashe Fiddlers Convention. In addition to his work as a professional musician in my trio, he is also a full-time college student.”

Sutton points out, “The Jeff Little Trio performs often throughout the year in the High Country. What makes this concert stand out above all others is that folks flock to the Harvest House to watch and hear Little “tickle the ivories” on the venues baby grand piano. With his rack-mounted harmonica and vocals, Little can be a one-man show, but with two time National Banjo Champion and guitar phenom Steve Lewis adding his hot licks to the mix and now with Luke joining in, well you are in for a musical treat! Word has gotten around, and this much anticipated concert is typically our largest crowd of the season.” 

“When Jeff hits the stage at Mountain Home Music, it is really a family affair. Not only does his neighbors and extended family turn out, he is often joined onstage for a song or two by his father, Jerrell,” Sutton added.

As a youngster, Little hung out at the music shop in downtown Boone that was owned by his parents. Musicians, including Doc Watson, would gather there regularly to pick a few tunes. Beginning around the age of six, Little would be invited to sit in. These personal and musical influences helped shape his approach to playing the piano, which is based on adding more notes than even a fiddler can play on these lightning-fast traditional tunes. By age 14, he was in demand as a professional musician. As a young man, Jeff settled in Nashville for a while, but a number of years ago he moved back to the Blue Ridge Mountains. He has taken his music around the world of U.S. government goodwill tours to Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Oman, France and Tanzania. National Public Radio has said about him: “Jeff Little is a remarkable musician, steeped in tradition of his native Blue Ridge, yet he is a virtuosic and eclectic innovator.” In 2014, Little was inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.

In a recent interview for an article in a Concord paper, Little told the story of how Doc would show up and pick on Christmas Eve at his family’s music store while the locals were out doing their last minute shopping. Doc’s presence worked better than any advertising. “One year we wold 21 guitars,” said Little. “I guess everyone thought they could take them home and pick like Doc!”

The Harvest House is located at 247 Boone Heights Drive in Boone.

This concert is supported by the following private sponsors: Dentists Robert and Craig Bridgeman. Business sponsors include: Mast General Store, Stick Boy Kitchen, Mountain Time Publishing and High Country Press. Additional support is provided by Boone TDA, The High Country United Way – courtesy of Jack and Karen James – Watauga County Arts Council and Grassroots Funds from the NC Arts Council. JSMHM is also proud to be included as a site on the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina (Blueridgemusicnc.com).

Tickets cost $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Student tickets are $5. Children 12 and younger are admitted free. Advance tickets may be purchased online or at Stick Boy Bread Company (345 Hardin St., Boone), and Footsloggers on Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock.

Directions and more information can be found at the JSMJM website, www.mountainhomemusic.org/.