Types of Artistry
Weaverville, NC (Buncombe County)
Buncombe County native Leonard Hollifield's career as a guitarist began around the age of ten, when his father arranged for guitar lessons-not for him, but for Leonard's older brother. He absorbed what he overheard of his brother's lessons, and with an instrument in the house he was able to practice and experiment. Other musicians in the community also showed him what they knew. Seventy years later, Hollifield is one of Western North Carolina's most respected guitarists.
From about the age of twelve, he was playing for square dances and parties, at schoolhouses, and on the radio, with a variety of local bands. At fourteen he played for a regular radio show. With his younger brother, Hollifield played the circuit of dances in the area. "No one traveled very far," he says, because in those days the roads were rough and transportation unreliable.
In the coming years, Hollifield would play with a gospel group called the Herron Valley Boys, named for the area in Buncombe County where he grew up, and with the Pine Ridge Boys, based in Georgia. Twice he did multi-year stints playing for the Kingsmen, the legendary Southern gospel quartet from the North Carolina mountains.
For more than thirty years, Hollifield has been the guitarist for the Stoney Creek Boys, the longtime host band at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival and Shindig on the Green. The Stoney Creek Boys also include fiddler Arvil Freeman, banjo player George Banks, and bass player Boyd Black, all veterans of the Asheville-area traditional music scene. Asked why his native Buncombe County has been home to so many great musicians, Leonard Hollifield says, "I think these mountains work a spell on you."
Leonard Hollifield plays with the Stoney Creek Boys and solo for concerts, festivals, dances, and other special events. He is also available to give demonstrations and classroom programs at colleges.