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Lois Dunn and her group of seven performed at the Johnson County Senior Center last Friday, February 24. It’s not the first time the group put on a show for the seniors–and it won’t be the last–since the group has already been asked to come back to the Senior Center on March 24.

The set list included fiddle tunes like Angeline the Baker and Old Joe Clark, bluegrass classics like Crawdad Song and Long Journey Home, and a few gospel songs like Sweet By and By and I’ll Fly Away.

The bluegrass group calls themselves the Front Porch Pickers and meets nearly every Friday at the Art Center to jam. With three guitarists, two fiddle players, two banjo pickers, and one mandolin, it’s a well-rounded outfit.

Several of the band members are still in school, and many take lessons at Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) at First United Methodist Church in Mountain City. Johnson County JAM is open to fourth-grade students through seniors, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Banjoist and vocalist Deklan Thomas has been picking with Lois since the very beginning and said that Dunn’s guidance has had a profound impact on his musical career.

“I’ve been playing with Lois for probably close to four or five years,” Thomas said. “If not for her and the way she throws everything she has into helping young musicians be the best they can, I’m not sure I would be at the place I am with my relationship to music.”

Guitarist and vocalist Zane Lewis have also been involved with the group since 2019 when Dunn started gathering folks together at her restaurant, Lois’ Country Cafe.

Although the pandemic put a momentary pause on the picking, Dunn pulled the group back together at the Art Center. Over the years, the faces may have changed, but Dunn’s mission remains the same: to put a spotlight on the kids and give them an opportunity to shine.

“As talented as these kids are, they deserve to go somewhere and show off their talents!” Dunn said.

Fiddler Ikia Combs, guitarist Nate Combs, and banjoist Cheyenne Combs joined Dunn’s group more recently but have been playing folk music at JAM for several years prior. The siblings have won scholarships for their performances, and Ikia’s and Cheyenne’s solos on the fiddle tunes showcased their incredible talents.

Fiddler Andrew Matherly wowed everyone with his rendition of Lee Highway Blues.

Dunn’s brother Kenny Price also comes by to work with the group from time to time. The band has played at the Senior Center three times to date, and Dunn hopes to give the kids even more exposure by scheduling shows at nursing homes and churches this summer.

Members of the Senior Center love to hear the group play. “The concert was fantastic,” Cindy Tressler said. “It was so nice to see so many young ones up there performing.”

After the concert, Dunn said, “Words can’t express how proud I am of this group. I love that our young folks are carrying on our mountain traditions.”

Following last week’s concert at the Senior Center, the Front Porch Pickers will set its sights on next month’s concert on March 24.


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