Funeral Services and Remembrances for Roby Leroy Huffman

Image634927534246460501Roby Leroy Huffman died Saturday night, December 29, 2012, surrounded by family.  Born July 15, 1938, funeral services were conducted on Tuesday, January 1, 2013, he was 74.  Roby performed with the “Roby Huffman and the Bluegrass Cut Up’s” band for over 25 years, performing all over the US, Sweden, and Canada.

The original members of the bluegrass cutups performed in the the late 50's to the early 70's and played the bluegrass circuit around the country as well as overseas. After years on the road and thousands of shows, the band parted. In 1997 Roby regrouped with some new cutups, and it was magic once again!

Prescription Bluegrass contributor and photographer Laura Tate Ridge shared these sentiments:

Yesterday, the Bluegrass Community said goodbye to an old pal and legend from Eastern North Carolina, Roby Huffman. Since the late 1950's Roby has played and sang his heart out, migrating from Smithfield, N.C. to other parts of the world, including Sweden and Canada. Roby was best known for his high tenor voice as well as his down to earth personality that never changed.

I am so grateful for the times I got to spend watching him perform - mostly as a guest star in shows, but being in the forefront seeing him interact on and off the stage was one of the many highlights so far in my Bluegrass career. I've seen him perform with Samantha Casey and Bluegrass Jam, Al Batten and the Bluegrass Reunion and Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road; as well as his own band, The Bluegrass Cutups.

Image634927539299269505The last time I saw him perform was August 2012 at the Kenly Music Hall in Kenly, N.C. Just a small room full of pews and a small stage fit the setting perfectly as locals packed the pews to hear Roby Huffman and Al Batten and the Bluegrass Reunion let 'er rip- for what we didn't know would be one of the last times Roby would perform. I am so thankful for my Daddy asking me to go with him that night, I captured the most precious moments then and I have some photos here to share from that evening.

Knowing how much time My Daddy, Johnny Ridge (of Al Batten and the Bluegrass Reunion) has spent with Roby, I asked him to tell me a little something about Roby and he said: "Just to sum up a short statement about him, would be that I always admired him for sticking with his "day Job" (self-employed brick mason), instead of possibly putting his family's well being in jeopardy by trying to play music for a living. He probably could have, but chose not to. He did travel a lot back in the 70's & 80's, but still stayed with that day job. I ALWAYS enjoyed singing with him, especially on those old Osborne Bros. songs. Image634927542053857059Like I have said before, 20-30 years ago, when he opened his mouth to sing, you had to look twice to make sure is wasn't Bobby Osborne!"  Daddy loved Roby so much and looked to him as a role model, like many others have.

Another member of the Bluegrass community who was very close to Roby is a very well known banjo player from Eastern North Carolina, The Godfather of Bluegrass, Mister Al Batten. I picked up the phone today and called "Uncle Al" (as I call him) to see what he would like to share for this piece. He told me of stories that I will forever hold dear to my heart and never forget, for those moments in time are so very precious. Al went on to tell me how Roby had formed his band that evolved well into the 1980's; Roby Huffman and the Bluegrass Cutups. As original members passed and moved on, others joined the band, such as his son, Jeff Huffman and Daniel Casey, father to Samantha Casey of Samantha Casey and Bluegrass Jam. The last living member of the Bluegrass Cutups is Jessie Harmon from Edenton, N.C. 

Over time, Roby would just make guest appearances with other bands, always singing what he was most famous for, an Osborne Brothers original, "Ruby". The crowds would just eat up every bit of his performance.

Al Batten said: "If he was a-lookin' (for) a fat banjo player, he would call me and if I was a-lookin' (for) a number one tenor singer, I'd call him. He was never a 'Star', just a good fella." Al delivered the eulogy at Roby's funeral yesterday, and told me that the family, friends and fans poured in to pay their respects to the legend who left us all too soon.

As we look back on the life and times of Roby Huffman, remember that smile and that passion for Bluegrass that made him the legend he left this world as.


Anonymous said...

Very tasteful and sensitive writing about his career and what other artists thought of him.

Ron Ackerman said...

Roby was the real deal. In my opinion he sang Ruby 10 times better than Bobby Osborne. As I understand it they knew each other. He was a great high tenor that would have made any group proud. I'm honored to have met him and talk with him at RA Fountain. I hope the Cut-ups will continue on in his memory and honor.

Anonymous said...

This is a fine tribute to Roby Huffman who in essence was a tribute to bluegrass music. You captured the feeling many people have for his brand/style, ability, and his approach to the work - as your daddy mentioned to you. Bluegrass without people who hold on to their day job would be nowhere near the same. Roby did his part for the fan base!

Anonymous said...

Roby Huffman was one of the finest men I have had the blessing of knowing. He loved his family, friends and fans. I am proud to say I was a part of his family for over 16yrs. Roby is one of the reasons I love Bluegrass as much as I do. I can still hear him singing at a family reunion in the mountains of NC and watching Grandpa Huffman slapping his leg and letting out a yelp while Roby was singing. What an honor to have known Roby Huffman.