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Clyde Maness in a familiar spot at sound board.  Photo by G Nicholas Hancock

Bluegrass icon Clyde Maness dies

Clyde Maness, bass player and proprietor of Maness Pottery & Music Barn in Carthage, passed away July 31. The most recent recipient of Alan Perdue Memorial Bluegrass Music Award was 80.


“Another legend is gone,” shared Janice Perdue of Asheboro, Alan’s mother, who presented Maness with the award on March 8 for his contribution to bluegrass music. The award was to be presented in 2020, but was delayed due to the global pandemic. “I am glad he was able to get his award,” said Linda Loggains, promoter of the Seagrove Fiddlers’ Convention where the annual award is normally presented.


Maness served the bluegrass community for 48 years, offering a weekly gathering place since 1974 for folks to come together for a covered dish meal and lots of open jamming.


Clyde was a storyteller. He would drop names, relay events, and share photos from his musical escapades.


“Clyde embellished things,” said Nathan Aldridge, fiddler with Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out “I liked listening to his Grand Ole Opry stories that he would tell.”


Maness often told newcomers about his inspiration for starting his weekly jam. “I was at the Grand Ole Opry and I told Roy Acuff that I was going to build a music barn. He said, ‘If you build it, they will come’ and he was right. There wasn’t church on Tuesday night so it seemed like a good time.”


He not only opened his pottery shop for music, Maness fed the masses, cooking 12-14 pounds of pintos and 20 pounds of potato salad each week. There was never an admission fee, just a donation basket by the door.


He liked to talk numbers. “Sometimes there’s 100 people. Sometimes there’s 200 or 300. In 1990, it got so big we added a room.” 


Though the crowd varied in size, there were weekly regulars. Big T and Pammy Lassiter were there most Tuesdays.


“Clyde was the biggest friend a bluegrass player could have in central NC,” Big T said. “He was just a big ole ball of love. We were blessed to have known him.”


Other musicians stated their affection for their fallen friend.


“He was such a blessing, a mentor and a brother, always pickin’ at me ... one of the best friends I’ve ever had,” stated Paula Conley. Maness played with Conley and a few other ladies in a group they called Three Hens and An Old Rooster. The group performed regularly at an area nursing home.


Many professional musicians got their start picking at Maness Pottery & Music Barn.


Seagrove guitarist Kevin Richardson, who has performed with several Nashville-based bands, shared, “I have known Clyde all my life. We attended the same church in Robbins when I was a child. He has always been a friend and a supporter of Bluegrass and music in general. He would do anything to help you and I loved his support to the younger musicians. He will be missed by all of us. Thank you, Clyde, for your love and dedication to all of us. Rest In Peace, my friend!”


“Clyde Maness was everybody’s friend. He opened up his music barn to so many,” said banjoist Trent Callicutt of Asheboro, who recently made several appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. “I am especially grateful to him for allowing myself, along with my friends, to get on stage at a very young age when we really weren’t good enough to be there! That’s something I will always remember. Thanks for all the great memories, Clyde! Tuesday nights just won’t be the same without you.”


Young and old were welcome and present at Clyde’s weekly jam. That included 16-year-old powerhouse picker Jake Goforth of Troy: “I always enjoyed going to Clyde’s. We’d stay and pick for hours and he’d be there until the last person would leave. Gonna miss him and his great soul.”


Rising songstress Caroline Owens of Denton agreed. “I’ve had a very heavy heart since hearing of his passing. He was a local legend to many, but a friend to all. I can’t recall a single time that I walked through the doors of his pottery barn that I didn’t feel welcomed. He had a heart of gold and a passion for Bluegrass. I am certainly going to miss him on Tuesday nights. His absence leaves a void that none could ever fill.”


Each week, Clyde manned the sound board as band after band took the stage while others jammed throughout the building.


Following his death, around 20 area musicians gathered on Tuesday night, Aug. 2, at his barn, but only in the parking lot to reminisce and pick a few tunes. Inside, Clyde’s chair was empty, the stage quiet, and the building vacant, a sad end of an era in NC bluegrass music.


During his visitation, Maness’ vintage Kay bass fiddle draped in flowers quietly stood vigilant beside his cedar casket along with a framed pictured that read “Welcome to Clyde’s”. Though in the funeral home, these treasured pieces were remembrances of his beloved music barn.


Mandolinist Teddy White of Robbins was one of several local musicians to play during Maness’ funeral. “(He was a) longtime friend and buddy (that’s) done a lot for bluegrass in our area,” White said.


Maness is survived by his wife of 62 years, four children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Maness Music Barn, c/o Edna Maness, 10995 NC Hwy 24/27, Carthage, NC, 28327. Condolences can be made online at pinesfunerals.com.