Northeast State’s Entertainment Technology Program and Bristol’s Paramount Center for the Arts present the acclaimed Jeff Little Trio and guest Wayne Henderson in concert March 31 at 7 p.m.
The Trio and Henderson promise a toe-tapping night of music ranging from traditional old-time country to bluegrass to rockabilly to blues. The show is free and open to the public. The Paramount is located at 518 State St., Bristol, Tenn.
For those with an interest in Northeast State’s Entertainment Technology program, an open house is slated from 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. at 620 State St., site of the College’s Bristol campus. The open house will feature tours of the program’s state-of-the-art sound, lighting, and recording facilities.
Little’s involvement with fiddle tunes, old-time country, and traditional blues dates to his growing up in Boone, N.C., where his family owned a music shop. The shop was a regular gathering place for musicians dropping by to pick a few tunes. At an early age, Jeff would regularly sit in with many of the musicians from the region, including one of America’s most influential musicians: Doc Watson.
These influences helped shape Little’s approach to the piano which is based on these deep musical traditions. With few exceptions, the piano does not play a prominent part in Appalachian or Americana music, and is rarely the lead instrument. But Little is an exception – and a remarkable one. His distinctive two-handed style, much influenced by the mountain flat-picked guitar tradition, is breathtaking in its speed, precision, and clarity.
Little’s performances include The Smithsonian Institution, The National Folk Festival, American Piano Masters, Merlefest and many festivals, performing arts centers, colleges and music venues throughout the US. He has released four CDs, and been featured on National Public Radio and PBS several times.
The Trio includes Steve Lewis, one of the most respected acoustic musicians lauded for his flat picking on guitar and his mastery of the five-string banjo. Lewis earned many championships for his guitar and banjo playing in competitions at Merlefest, the Galax Old Time Fiddlers Convention, and the Wayne Henderson Guitar Competition. He is also a two-time national champion on the banjo.
Rounding out the Trio is Josh Scott, considered to be one of the most talented upright bass players working today. Scott has been featured on stage and in the studio with many critically acclaimed artists of acoustic and Americana music.
Wayne Henderson is the Appalachian guitarist that Nashville pickers all talk about. Sometimes Wayne’s playing is mistaken for flatpicking, but he actually uses a thumb-pick and fingerpicks to achieve amazing speed and fluidity, transforming fiddle and banjo pieces, and even the occasional jazz standard, into stunning guitar solos.
In addition to his reputation as a guitarist, Henderson is a luthier of great renown. He produces about 20 instruments a year, mostly guitars; he is almost as well-known for the mandolins he has made. Good friend Doc Watson owned a Henderson mandolin. He said, “That Henderson mandolin is as good as any I’ve had my hands on. And that’s saying a lot, because I’ve picked up some good ones.”
Some of Henderson’s instruments are intricately decorated but are most respected for their volume, tone, and resonance. Blues guitarist John Cephas said that Wayne Henderson “is probably the most masterful guitar maker in this whole United States.”
Henderson was awarded the country’s highest honor for a traditional artist, the National Heritage Fellowship in 1995 in honor of both his fine playing and his guitar-making.