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N.C. groups performing at WCC bluegrass event

WYTHEVILLE – Jeff Little and the Crooked Road Ramblers, both from North Carolina, will perform this Saturday, Feb. 15, at Wytheville Community College’s free Bluegrass and Old-Time Jamboree.

The event is held 7-9 p.m. in WCC’s William F. Snyder Auditorium, 1000 E. Main St., Wytheville. Little performs 7-8 p.m. and the Ramblers, 8-9.

The piano typically doesn’t play a prominent part in Appalachian music, and is rarely the lead instrument. But Jeff Little is an exception – and a remarkable one at that. His distinctive two-handed style, much influenced by the mountain flat-picking guitar tradition, is breathtaking in its speed, precision, and clarity.

Little is from Boone, N.C., 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 them was Doc Watson, a neighbor and close family friend, whose music helped shape Little’s unique piano style.

A professional musician since the age of 14, Jeff Little is conversant with traditional jazz, old-time, country, bluegrass, rockabilly and blues. With his rack-mounted harmonica and vocals, he can also be a one-man show.

Little has worked with a wide range of commercial country artists, most notably Keith Urban. He has released four CDs, has been featured on National Public Radio several times and has also performed internationally.

The Crooked Road Ramblers from Crumpler, N.C., feature “old-time (Virginia and North Carolina) music with a drive.” They are often found playing at fiddlers’ conventions, parties and square dances. Their musical influences include: Whitetop Mountain Band, New River Ramblers, Albert Hash, Corbett Stamper, Jont Blevins, Lawrence Russell, Otis Burris, and Leon Hill, among others.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The event is free and open to the public, but donations will be accepted to help defray band travel expenses.

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