Photo courtesy of Margaret vonRosen.
Types of Artistry
Newland, NC (Avery County)
Herman Coffey was born and raised in Avery County where he has 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. Herman is the last of the three brothers who is still 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 Bluegrass Tradition with Herb Greene, Edison Walling, and Terry Barns. When the group configuration changed, they changed the name of the band to Strings of Five, and it includes Herb Greene, Hoyt Herbert, and Ronnie Swann. Local favorites, Strings of Five produced a CD that sold so well the group had to order more. They perform at local and regional venues including Young's Mountain Music and Old Fort.
Herman won first place in the mandolin contest at the Union Grove Fiddler's Convention, and he continues to be a great asset to the band. They have 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. They often travel to Troutdale, Virginia, to perform.
Strings of Five, Herman's band, is available for performances locally and regionally. In addition to Herman Coffey, the band includes Herb Greene from Avery County, Ronnie Swann from Marion, and Hoyt Herbert from Georgia. The group plays bluegrass music.