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Les Butler and Friends: Jeff Tolbert of the Primitive Quartet

Written by Staff on July 14, 2019 – 2:53 pm -

Les Butler and Friends: Jeff Tolbert of the Primitive Quartet

Primitive Quartet

Les Butler and Friends: Jeff Tolbert of the Primitive Quartet

I’ve known Jeff Tolbert for many years, and I like him a lot. He’s a great husband, father, musician and one of the all-time greatest singers I’ve ever heard. I thought I knew most everything about Jeff, but even I was surprised at some of his answers to my questions. For example, did you know that over the years he played for Jeff and Troy Tolbert, the Stanleys, the Easter Brothers, Jeff and Sheri Easter, and he filled in with the Lewis Family, Karen Peck and New River, the Isaacs and Ricky Skaggs. Of course, it feels like he’s been a member of the Primitive Quartet forever. You’ll enjoy getting to know my friend, Jeff Tolbert.                                                                                                                        

Les Butler: What is your earliest musical memory?                                                              

Jeff Tolbert: My earliest memories (for me) were singing with my dad. We sang everywhere; in our community, churches, outdoor festivals and at many radio stations. We were featured a lot on the Saturday Morning Merry Go Round at WPAQ in Mt. Airy, N.C.                                                                                                                                                                                        

 

Les Butler and Friends: Jeff Tolbert of the Primitive Quartet

Jeff Tolbert

Butler: What was the first instrument you tried to play?                                                               

Tolbert: I started playing the guitar and bass guitar about the same time, around the age of seven. After that, I started picking up other instruments. I remember my dad telling me when to change chords on the guitar. I couldn’t wait for him to get home from work so we could pick.

 

Butler: What instruments do you play now?                                                                                   

Tolbert: I play the bass guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, harmonica, autoharp and a little on the dobro.

 

Butler: Who are your top three musician mentors?                                                                         

Tolbert: I would definitely say my dad is my first musical mentor. He taught me so much about music as well as life. His spiritual influence and walk with the Lord started me on my journey many years ago, playing music and living for my Savior. I miss him dearly, but I know we will sing together again.  

The Easter Brothers would be my second mentors as well as much of their family. The Easter Brothers were from my home town of Mt.Airy, N.C. Their music has always been a part of my life. I still say, no one can sing three-part harmony like Russell, James and Edd.  My third musical mentor would be Ricky Skaggs. From Ralph Stanley and JD Crowe until now, he’s always been my favorite singer and musician. I grew up learning how to sing harmony with Ricky’s records. After reading Ricky’s autobiography that he published, I realized our upbringing was so much alike, as we were both raised in a godly home with a love for music. I cherish his friendship and appreciate his music.

 

Butler:  If you could only do one thing; sing or play, which would you choose?                         

Tolbert:  As much as I love to play, I would have to choose singing. Dad always told me, (when)  you sing a song, listen to the words. If the song helps you, it will help others. I want to be a help and encouragement to someone. I want to be able to tell folks there’s hope in a lost and dying world, and there’s joy in knowing Jesus.

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