With few exceptions, the piano does not play a prominent part in Appalachian or Americana
music, and is rarely the lead instrument. But Jeff 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 involvement with fiddle tunes, old time country, and traditional blues dates to his growing up in Boone, North Carolina, where his family, owned a music shop. The shop was a regular gathering place for musicians who would just stop by to pick a few tunes. Beginning around the age of six 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 Jeff’s approach to the piano which is based on these deep musical traditions. But there is also an echo of more contemporary mountain tradition in Jeff’s performances.
A professional musician since the age of 14, Jeff is conversant with traditional old-time country, bluegrass, rockabilly, and blues. With a rack-mounted harmonica and vocals, he can also be a one-man show. Jeff settled in Nashville for a while, where he worked as a session man in between stints on the road. He also worked with a wide range of commercial country artists as a musician or manager most notably Keith Urban. In 2004, Jeff and his family returned to the Blue Ridge where he is the Director of the Music Industry Program at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, North Carolina.
Today, Jeff continues to have a very busy concert schedule. 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. Jeff has released four CDs, and been featured on National Public Radio several times. He has taken his traditional piano style around the world on U.S. government goodwill tours, performing in Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Oman, France and Tanzania.