Lazybirds, Mary Neil at Jones House Friday

Article Published: Jun. 9, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Lazybirds, Mary Neil at Jones House Friday

The Lazybirds, pictured at MerleFest 2011, will perform Friday at the Jones House.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

It's that time of year, as Boone's own Lazybirds migrate to the Jones House porch.

On Friday, the old-time blues and jazz outfit joins singer-songwriter Mary Neil for this week's Concert on the Lawn.

Fresh off a gig at MerleFest, the 'birds are bringing their trademark sound to a familiar crowd.

"It's hard to define and put into a category," bassist Mitch Johnston said, "but we tend to lean toward early blues and jazz, about the first 50 years of recorded music."

And they've had time to hone their skills. The Lazybirds were established in 1996, with Jay Brown and Andy Christopher on guitar, Johnston on bass and James Browne on drums.

"It's good old-fashioned chemistry," Johnston said. "We're all best friends, started hanging out together well before we started a band."

The lineup is slightly different these days, now with Alfred Michels on fiddle and minus Christopher, who left due to illness, but Johnston feels the group is still staying true to its traditions, while staying true to its music.

"We really fell in love with that kind of music," he said. "It's been a slow thing, but over the years we've been able to come up with our own sound, just by staying true to those different traditions."

Watauga Arts Council folklorist Mark Freed feels they're the perfect fit, bringing their blend of old-time jazz and blues, country, rockabilly, swing and original material to the always welcoming Jones House porch.

"I haven't seen them perform since last summer, but I see pictures of the band, and they are looking sharp," he said. "They always bring good energy and an interesting array of songs."

He's also looking forward to Mary Neil's performance, that of "a Boone native gone west."

Formally Mary Neil Schrum, she's "a cohort and friend of numerous local bluegrass pickers and songwriters," Freed said.

Now she's making friends in Montana and Idaho, writing songs and recording music. A visit back to her hometown of Boone proved serendipitous for the arts council - and her friends and family.

"Having grown up in Boone, Mary Neil has family and a lot of friends in the area, and it is fortunate we were able to get her on the schedule during a visit back this summer," Freed said, adding this marks her first Jones House performance.

The free concert starts at 5 p.m. at the Jones House Community center, located at 604 W. King St. in downtown Boone. Concert-goers are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets for the lawn.

The 2011 Concerts on the Lawn Series - now in its 19th season - is sponsored by MPrints, Footsloggers, Stick Boy Bread Company, Melanie's Food Fantasy, Mast General Store and the Downtown Boone Development Association.

Next week's concert features the country stylings of Jeff Luckadoo and folk rock from the Worthless Son-In-Laws.

For more information, visit

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