Herman Coffey

Photo courtesy of Margaret vonRosen.

Sights & Sounds

Types of Artistry

Historic Artist

Herman Coffey

Mandolin player

Newland, NC (Avery County)

Herman Coffey was born and raised in Avery County where he played bluegrass music since he was a young boy. His two other brothers were also interested in music, and the three of them took up music on their own when they were young. Herman started on the fiddle and later he switched to mandolin. The brothers performed often in the area where they lived, particularly at fiddler's conventions. In his later years, Herman was the last of the three brothers to continue playing music.

Like many traditional musicians, Herman listened to the radio a lot when he was young. He tuned into the Grand Ole Opry and regional radio programs that featured traditional music. He found himself especially drawn to the music of Bill Monroe and the Osborne Brothers at a time when bluegrass music was not often heard in his local community.

For years, Herman played in a band called Strings of Five with Herb Greene, Edison Walling, and Terry Barns. When the group configuration changed, they changed the name of the band to Bluegrass Tradition, and it included Herb Greene, Hoyt Herbert, and Ronnie Swann. They performed at local and regional venues including Young's Mountain Music and Old Fort Mountain Music.

Herman won first place in the mandolin contest at the Union Grove Fiddler's Convention, and was a great asset to the band. They opened for many nationally-touring bluegrass bands at the Cross Country Campground near Lake Norman including Third Tyme Out, Jim and Jess McReynolds, the Lewis Family, the Lonesome River Band, Ralph Stanley, and the Osborne Brothers.

Herman Coffey passed away on November 16, 2017 at the age of eighty-eight.

Note: "Historic Artist" designates one who is deceased but whose legacy continues to influence and inspire new generations.