Clyde Maness receives Alan Perdue Memorial Award

Alan Perdue’s daughter, Tabatha, presents award to Clyde Maness (March 8, 2022)

Serving the central North Carolina bluegrass community for the past 48 years, Clyde Maness was honored on Tuesday evening, March 8, for his dedication and commitment to the music. The 81-year-old was presented the Second Annual Alan Perdue Memorial Bluegrass Music Award during the regular Tuesday night jam at his establishment, Maness Pottery & Music Barn, in Carthage, NC.

“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,” said the long time upright bass player.

Clyde’s older sister, Dot, started helping her brother after her husband passed away in 1998. The weekly gathering begins with a covered dish meal where Dot serves up food. No alcoholic beverages are permitted. There is no charge, but many of the attendees bring a dish or two to share, and there is a donation basket. Pickers range from teenagers to seniors.

Maness stated, “Every Tuesday night, I cook 12-14 pounds of pintos and 20 pounds of potato salad. I get five cases of water, six cases of drinks, and 150 cups of coffee. Sometimes there’s 100 people. Sometimes there’s 200 or 300. In 1990, it got so big we added a room.”

“It’s like a dinner theater, free of charge. I don’t know how you can beat that. Clyde is a servant of the community,” shared regular picker, Paula Conley. “You’ll make friends before you leave.”

The award was given in memory of the late North Carolina mandolin virtuoso, Alan Perdue, who passed away from cirrhosis of the liver in 2019 at the young age of 49. A lover of bluegrass, Alan was always a central fixture at area fiddlers’ conventions. The award was established at Seagrove Fiddlers’ Convention in 2019 to recognize individuals who have promoted the music that he loved. 

The first award was presented to Bobby Franklin, North Carolina radio DJ and MC at music events for decades. Maness was selected for the second award slated for March 21, 2020, but due to the global pandemic, the convention was canceled. With restrictions from the school system, the event, held in Seagrove Elementary School’s gymtorium, has still been unable to resume. So the decision was made to present the award to Maness on his home turf.

Perdue’s mother and daughter, Janice and Tabatha, were on hand for the presentation. Big T Lassiter, a Tuesday night regular at Maness’ jams, made the presentation.  First, he introduced the Perdue family.

“A lot of you remember Alan. He played with the original Mountain Heart and IIIrd Tyme Out. This is his mom and daughter. As you know, for the third year in a row, COVID has taken our three fiddlers’ conventions in the area. Seagrove decided go ahead and give the award for bluegrass excellence and dedication.

Clyde loved the music so much that back in ’74, he started playing and when it got to be too many people at the house they came over here and started playing at the pottery barn. He found a way to make it by just passing a hat.”

“And my social security check,” Maness injected.

“He’s like the rest of us, he pays to play,” Lassiter joked. 

Resuming seriousness, Lassiter pointed out, “Think of all the generosity this man has shared with all of us. Think of all the music that has gone through these walls. Think of all the number of great bands that came to Clyde’s for a testing ground. This is the third year we haven’t had bluegrass ,and if it weren’t for Clyde, we wouldn’t have any now.”

“I can’t think of how many hours he has dedicated to bluegrass. He dedicated his time and money, and not to get a whole lot of reward, other than to sit back and listen to some of the best music in the world. 

 Just in the 20 some odd years I’ve been coming, I walked into Mark Schatz. And for all you contemporary bluegrass people, he is one of the finest bass players in the world.” 

Lassiter went on to list other music notables to grace Maness’ stage, past and present: Carl Story, Hunter Berry, Ashby Frank, Nathan Aldridge, Matt Hooper, and Caroline Owens to name a few. He also acknowledged the distance that some participants and attendees travel.

“That’s dedication. None of us could do this without Clyde and his desire. What else can I say? We love you.”

Lassiter reflected on Perdue as he passed the mic to Alan’s mother. “If you needed a rhythm player at any of the conventions, Alan was right there and smiling when he did it. When he was dying, he was smiling and said, ‘I’m not going down without a fight,’ and I think that’s the way we all need to be. I’m going let his family present this award to Clyde.”

As the award was given, Janice Perdue shared, “I wouldn’t feel right tonight if I didn’t give God praise. When Alan was three or four, the assistant pastor of our church asked if anyone would like to learn how to play a musical instrument to come forward.”

Janice’s three children, Alan, Sandy, and Tammy stepped up.

“Within six months, they were playing music. God gave them the talent. All during Alan’s life, he loved music. His debut was in his kindergarten class. Thank you for loving him, and he knew it. He loved his bluegrass family. He loved Mr. Clyde Maness.”

Maness accepted the award with only a word of thanks. “Thank y’all. I’ve been here a long time and seen a lot of people.”

Following the presentation, a cake decorated with music notes and the inscription, “Thanks for the music, Clyde,” was served to those in attendance.

At the close of the evening, Maness reflected, “It was a surprise. I knew something was happening because of the large turnout of people tonight, but I didn’t know what.”

Well past the midnight hour, the proprietor of Maness Pottery & Music Barn placed his plaque upon his walker and exited the building. He would return the following day to begin preparation for the next week’s jam.

Reflecting on his memories of the Tuesday night gatherings, Clyde confessed, “A lot of people that come here, this is their life. They don’t have nothing else. They are old people like me, and they enjoy it. 100 years from now, I won’t be lonesome.”

Maness Pottery & Music Barn is located at 10992 NC-24, Carthage, NC. Tuesday night jams begin with the meal at 6:00 p.m., followed by music, both on stage and off.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.