Leftover Bluegrass to play Jones House

Article Published: Aug. 26, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Leftover Bluegrass is anything but stale.

Just ask bandleader Hoyt Combs. He can tell you stories. After all, the 70-year-old (Wednesday was his birthday) grew up in the High Country, and that meant growing up in bluegrass. He can tell you about the times he picked sets on WATA with his father in the '60s, the times he played with local legends like Kenny Price, even about the first time he picked up that guitar at the age of 6.

"I just started beating around on it," he said.

Combs, it seems, can tell you lots of things.

"We'll talk half the day if you want to," he said.

And you may want to. After all, Combs is as interesting as his music, and it's all on the porch Friday, part of the Watauga Arts Council's Concerts on the Lawn series at the Jones House Community Center in downtown Boone.

Think banjo picking, mandolin framed acoustics with guitar and an upright bass.

"We've been doing quite well," he said. "We've got plenty of bookings locally around the county."

The gospel picking old-time country-fried locals mix new music with traditional sets, creating a show that's as varied as it is energetic.

"We try to play anywhere from four to six hours without playing the same tune," Combs said.

The real gem behind the picking is the history. Named for his late music partner, Lonnie Hick's, tune, "Leftover Biscuits" ("We just switched it up a little bit and called it Leftover Bluegrass," he said), Leftover Bluegrass has survived where not all of its members have.

Combs, though, is used to carrying on. After all, "when my dad passed away, that left me out of a place to pick," and he carried on. After Hicks' death five years ago, "I just kept the name on."
Not even death, it seems, can still the music.

It's appropriate, since the music has been going on longer than he's been alive. "I come from a line of musicians," he said.

He can still remember watching his father play at the Barrel of Fun in Elizabethton.

"Then they would go to the old Green Park Hotel, and they'd have pickings out there on Saturday nights," he said. "They didn't pay in money. They paid in sugar, flour and stuff like that. Now I can remember daddy coming home and bringing sacks of flour home when he played music."

In Combs' varied career, he's been in several outfits, including Boone Trail Band, but he pays for cash, not flour, and it's definitely a family business. His kin, part of the group Southern Accent, also play the Jones House Friday. It's not the first Jones House appearance for Leftover Bluegrass.

"It's just picking on the porch," he said. "I like to play up there."

Leftover Bluegrass includes Larry Horton, Cecil Combs, Jerry Beach, Gerald Combs and Hoyt Combs.

"We'd like to entertain you, and I think you would be happy with our music," he said. "If you ain't, keep it to yourself. If you like it, tell somebody else."

And, he said, don't forget to tip.

Family Ties joins Leftover Bluegrass and Southern Accent on the stage Friday.

Series sponsors include Watauga Insurance Agency Inc., Mast General Store, Downtown Boone Development Association, Footsloggers and Panera Bread. Concerts on the Lawn start at 5 p.m. Bring your own chair.
The Jones House Community Center is located at 604 W. King St. in downtown Boone. For more information, visit http://www.watauga-arts.org.

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