Hoyt Combs came from a family of musicians who were part of the bluegrass and traditional mountain music community of Watauga County for several generations.
Hoyt’s grandfather was a banjo player, who played a style that reminded Hoyt of Grandpa Jones. His father played mandolin in a group called the Valley Mountain Travelers, with two of Hoyt’s uncles, who played fiddle and harmonica. “Dad was a musicianer, always playing in local bands” Hoyt said. Taught by his father, Hoyt started playing the guitar when he was about seven years old. “Dad’s band didn’t have a banjo player, so I started learning to play the five-string,” Hoyt recalled. “But my dad decided I wasn’t good enough on the banjo, so he put me on bass, and I joined the band.”
Hoyt played at dances and festivals with the Valley Mountain Travelers. They played on Beech Mountain during the ski season, and for a couple years the group had a regular radio program on local station WATA. “My uncle was always the emcee, but when he stopped playing, they looked at me and said, ‘You will be the emcee,'” Hoyt remembered.
After the Valley Mountain Travelers stopped performing, Hoyt continued his musical career with a local gospel group called the High Country Quartet, playing in local churches. Hoyt joined a group with Jim Earp called Boone Trail, playing mandolin. During that time, Hoyt also played some music with Ora Payne (Watson).
After Boone Trail, Hoyt joined his friend Ronnie Hicks to perform regularly at the Mast General Store. “We played there together for about six years,” Hoyt said. When Ronnie passed away, Hoyt put together a group called Leftover Bluegrass.
Hoyt was a regular performer in the Boone area for many years, and he enjoyed entertaining.
Hoyt Combs passed away on March 25, 2016 at the age of 75.