Corrina Rose Logston and Jeremy Stephens

Bluegrass and old time duets
Nashville, Tennessee

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Husband and wife duo Corrina Rose Logston and Jeremy Stephens are heavily steeped in the sounds of traditional bluegrass and early country music. From heart songs and brother duets of the early Grand Ole Opry era to lively classic bluegrass tunes and their own original material, Corrina and Jeremy perform the ballads of bygone days with a haunting authenticity that belies their age. Both are accomplished musicians, each winning multiple instrument contests and performing throughout the country. While still a teenager in his hometown of Danville, Virginia, Jeremy apprenticed under Kinney Rorrer, a master of the Charlie Poole three-finger style banjo, in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. Since then, Jeremy has worked as guitarist and singer for the legendary gospel group The Chuck Wagon Gang, as a multi-instrumentalist on the television show Ray Stevens’ Nashville, and most recently as banjo player and singer with Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys. In addition to his fine playing, Jeremy remains a true student and historian of old-time, bluegrass, and country music. Corrina, originally from southwestern Illinois, has worked as fiddler and singer with a cadre of traditionally influenced bluegrass performers, including David Peterson & 1946, Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys, Chris Henry & the Hardcore Grass, and Jim Lauderdale. Drawn together by their mutual love for duets, especially the lesser known names in traditional bluegrass and hillbilly music, Corrina and Jeremy have been likened to Reno and Smiley, the Louvin Brothers, and Lulu Belle and Scotty. When they are not performing together as a duo, they front their own traditional bluegrass band, High Fidelity. 

Danny Knicely Quartet featuring Bert Carlson

Jazz and Swing Guitar
Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

 Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley has long been fertile ground for the development of old-time and bluegrass music, and native son Danny Knicely is among the very finest musicians of his generation to emerge from this deeply rich musical region. While Danny has distinguished himself as one of bluegrass and old time’s most accomplished and sought-after players, performing and recording with countless artists and winning many awards and contests in mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and flatfoot dancing, his musical appetite has never been constrained to any particular genre. Collaborating with artists from the mountains of Asia to the shores of West Africa, Danny has a chameleon-like ability to fit into any musical situation. For his 2018 Virginia Folklife Stage performance, Danny will venture into jazz, with his quartet featuring Virginia jazz and swing guitar master Bert Carlson.

While Virginia is seldom associated with jazz, the Commonwealth has produced a disproportionate number of artists who have put their indelible stamp on this uniquely American music. Virginia has produced some of the most celebrated jazz vocalists including Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey, Ruth Brown, and Keely Smith. Accompanying these vocalists were a cadre of highly influential and revered guitarists. Bert Carlson, of Bath County, follows in the footsteps of these luminary jazz guitar masters, such as Charlie Byrd, Steve Jordan, and Tiny Grimes. Like Danny, Bert was not classically trained, learning instead through what he calls the old fashioned way, “at the gig—sink or swim.” He has since performed hundreds of dates each year and mentored many students in his native Illinois and later Washington, D.C., before settling down in Bath County, Virginia, in 2001. Bert is currently apprenticing Danny in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. Having Danny assume the role of apprentice might at first seem curious, but in truth Danny and Bert have been learning from one another since they met. “I’ve known Danny for 18 years,” Bert says. “Over that time, he’s stolen my jazz licks and I've stolen his bluegrass licks. We haven't really talked about it. We just steal.” The Danny Knicely Quartet is rounded out by Jon Nazdin on bass and Aimee Curl on vocals and guitar. A Washington D.C. native, Jon is a master of multiple genres on double and electric bass, and has performed with George Benson, Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Branford Marsalis, among others. Aimee, from Taylorstown, Virginia, grew up singing in church and with her family. In her early teens, she learned the lap dulcimer and joined her first band. She soon took up the electric bass and toured the country with the band ThaMuseMeant. Aimee later attended the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, where she picked up the upright bass fiddle and honed her distinctive vocal style. Having returned to Virginia, Aimee performs with her partner Danny in the band Furnace Mountain and innumerable other projects across the nation and overseas.

The Chosen Few featuring Tarrence Paschall

A cappella gospel
Newport News, Virginia

 Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Photo by: Pat Jarrett

The Chosen Few stand firmly in the great tradition of unaccompanied religious singing in the Tidewater region of Virginia. Though scarcely a handful of African American a cappella quartets sing in Virginia today, black four-part harmony groups were singing in Virginia at least as early as the mid-1800s, and the Tidewater region alone produced more than two hundred such groups in the century following the Civil War. The “modern” quartets were born in the late 1920s and early 1930s with the emergence of groups like the Heavenly Gospel Singers, the Blevins Quartet, and most notably, the Golden Gate Quartet of Norfolk. Norfolk quickly became known as the “home of the quartet.”

Based in Newport News, Virginia, Cornelius Smith and Bobby Hopson founded the Chosen Few in 2012. The group is comprised of members from various churches across the Hampton Roads region. In addition to Smith and Hopson, the group includes James and Larry Carter, Isaac Ellison, Minister Kenny Watts, Deacon Joseph Plez, Genesis Arrington, and L.D. Hiriams. Together they received the 2015 and 2017 VEER Magazine awards for best gospel group.

For their debut performance on the Virginia Folklife Stage, the Chosen Few will be joined by Reverend Tarrence Paschall, longtime leader of the legendary Paschall Brothers of Chesapeake. The late Reverend Frank Paschall Sr. originally formed the ensemble in 1981 with his five sons: Tarrence, Frank Jr., Wendell, Dwight, and William. Reverend Paschall Sr. passed away in 1999, but Tarrence and his sons have carried on his legacy. The Paschalls performed frequently at local area churches and festivals in the Tidewater area, as well as nationally known festivals, including the National Folk Festival, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and the Roots of American Music Festival at Lincoln Center. In 2012, the Paschall Brothers received the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor the United States bestows on traditional artists.

The Legendary Ingramettes

Gospel
Richmond, Virginia

 Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Photo by: Pat Jarrett

For more than five decades, Evangelist “Mama” Maggie Ingram & the Ingramettes brought their music and ministry to congregations in the Tidewater and Piedmont. Born July 4, 1930, on Mulholland’s Plantation in Coffee County, Georgia, Maggie worked in the cotton and tobacco fields with her parents. She began playing the piano and singing at an early age, and developed a great love for the church and the ministry of the Gospel. She formed Sister Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes, a singing group that became sought after for appearances throughout Florida. In 1961 Maggie moved her family to Richmond, where she worked in the home of Oliver W. Hill, the prominent civil rights attorney who represented the Virginia plaintiffs in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. The family joined Love’s Temple Church of God in Christ and began singing in and around the city. With her children, Maggie also began a prison ministry, partnering with the Mount Gilead Baptist Church in the 1970s to institute programs like family day in Virginia prison camps.

Maggie received numerous awards, including the prestigious Virginia Heritage Award in 2009 and a doctor of music degree from Virginia Triumphant College and Seminary in 2011. The Virginia Folklife Program’s production of Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes: Live in Richmond received the Independent Music Awards fan’s choice award for Gospel Album of the Year in 2012.

For Mama Maggie, who passed away in 2015 at 84, music was always a family affair, and three generations of Ingram’s have performed with the Ingramettes. Their commanding, spirit-filled performances demonstrated the extraordinary depth of talent in American gospel music. The group is one of Virginia’s premier gospel ensembles. The family continues on spreading Maggie’s joy, ministry, and music. Now led by Maggie’s daughter Reverend Almeta Ingram-Miller, granddaughter Cheryl Maroney Yancey, and daughter-in-law Carrie Jackson, the group has not only continued but soared to new heights.

 

 

 

 

Mandkhai Erdembat

Mongolian Contortion
Falls Church, Virginia

 Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Mongolian contortion has existed since the twelfth century as a dance called Uran Nugaralt, which translates to “artistic bending.” This kind of dance was prominent in the royal palaces of Mongolia before it became associated with the international success of the Mongolian State Circus in the 1940s. To this day, Mongolian contortionists are known around the world for their mastery in the field.

Mandkhai Erdembat was born in Ulaanbaatar and traveled across the globe to perform contortion on cruise ships, at festivals, and dinner shows before moving to the United States in 2012. As a child, Mandkhai frequently visited the circus with her grandmother, Dolgorjav, who had many friends there from her time as a singer. Contortion training is highly respected in Mongolia, and Dolgorjav took Mandkhai to her first contortion classes when she was five years old. Traditionally, training begins before the age of eight to achieve the necessary flexibility. Mandkhai, however, does not believe age limits are necessary as everyone can learn something from contortion. In Mandkhai’s experience, contortion training goes beyond flexibility and teaches us how to live in a more positive way. She published a book, Honor, in 2017 to share this wisdom from her life as a contortionist.

Mandkhai’s beloved coach, Norrjmaa, played an important role in her personal and professional development. She was a tough teacher who pushed Mandkhai to reach her potential. Mandkhai confesses that “there is no contortionist who has not cried.” It is not an easy art to learn and requires serious dedication. Some people, she says, give up too soon. Her love of contortion and support from her family helped her to accomplish her goals. When Norrjmaa passed away, Mandkhai decided to teach because Norrjmaa had shared so much with her and she felt she needed to do the same.

Mandkhai moved to Northern Virginia a couple of years ago to open her school. Approximately 8,000 immigrants from Mongolia live in the Washington D.C. area, mostly in Arlington. Immigration began in the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, as Mongolians searched for economic opportunity. The strong educational system of Arlington County parallels the cohesive education offered in Mongolia, and children from Mongolia have been adapting extremely well to the new environment.

Ella and Emma Chuluunbat, twin sisters from Mongolia, are Mandkhai’s first students. They are joining her as apprentices in the 2018 Folklife Apprenticeship Program and are very excited to be the stars of the latest episode of Mandkhai’s show, Contortionist’s Seed, on Fairfax Public Television. Mandkhai takes pride in teaching them how to be contortionists as well as courteous members of their community. She hopes to open a nonprofit organization to teach future students how to be happy, healthy, and financially independent along with their contortion training.

 

 

Mason Via and Hot Trail Mix

Ashville and Boone, North Carolina
Bluegrass

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Traditional music styles are sometimes lost on young players, but this has certainly not been true of bluegrass and old time music, where the youngest players are now performing with unprecedented artistry. Participation in youth instrument contests across southern Appalachia is at an all-time high, and young players are making the grownups pretty nervous in the adult categories as well. The members of the North Carolina-based Hot Trail Mix all honed their chops growing up at the region’s thriving fiddlers’ conventions and jam sessions. Now entering their twenties, Hot Trail Mix has developed a hard-driving style all their own. The group is led by the talented young musician Mason Via, of Patrick County, Virginia. Mason is the son of master bluegrass songwriter David Via, who started taking Mason to fFiddlers’ conventions and festivals before he could walk. Mason learned to play guitar from his father and his talented musical friends, including Rex McGhee, Ryan Cavanagh, Danny Knicely, and Nate Leath.  Already a gifted songwriter as a teenager, Mason released his first album, Up, Up, Up in 2015, and the next year officially apprenticed with his dad in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. His second LP, Looking for the Stone, was released in 2017 on Patuxent Music. Mason has assembled a gifted and energetic ensemble in Hot Trail Mix, including Zeb Gambill on mandolin, Grayson "Pinky" Tuttle on banjo, Nate Leath on fiddle, and Zachary Smith on bass. While only recently formed, the group has already delighted audiences at such prestigious bluegrass and Americana festivals as Wide Open Bluegrass, Floydfest, Merlefest, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, Roosterwalk, and the Watermelon Park Festival.

Nader Majd

Classical Iranian and Persian music
Ashburn, Virginia

 Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Persian classical music dates back to at least the fifth century B.C. The Achaemenid Empire employed music in prayer, royal festivals, and national ceremonies. Dr. Nader Majd was born in Sari, Iran, and began studying and playing the santur, or Persian hammered dulcimer, and violin at the age of six. He later learned to play the tar and setar from his father and uncles, artists well known in Iran. All of these instruments are essential to Persian music of prayer. Dr. Majd immigrated to the United States in 1968, and in 1997 established the Center for Persian Classical Music in Northern Virginia, a critically important organization for the preservation and teaching of Iranian music and traditional culture. Nader recently became one of the first returning master artists in the Virginia Folklikfe Apprenticeship Program, working with Ali Reza Analouei, who himself was a 2009 Master Artist on the Tombak and Daf.

The timing of Nader and Ali’s return to the Apprenticeship Program is particularly significant, as Nader wrote in his program application: “Considering that we are living in these sensitive times, given the strain on political relations between Iran and the U.S. and the current immigration situation and ban against travel to certain countries in the Middle East, much of the culture will not be transferred and preserved through travel. The only way to preserve and perpetuate our cultural and heritage values is through current residents such as myself and Dr. Analouei who have devoted our lives to promoting our culture and heritage in the Northern Virginia community.”

New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters

Old Time
Fries, Virginia

 Photo by: Joseph Dejarnette

Photo by: Joseph Dejarnette

The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters have been playing old time mountain music in the Galax, Virginia, area since 1986. Today’s group is named for the original Bogtrotters of the 1920s, the premiere old time band of their era. The original Bogtrotters consisted of legendary artists Uncle Eck Dunford, Wade Ward, Crocket Ward, Fields Ward, and “Doctor” Davis. The Bogtrotters won the very first Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax in 1935, and Doctor Davis was very instrumental in keeping the contest alive throughout the years. Named for the original Bogtrotters and for a small stream that runs through Galax, the present day line up consists of guitarist Dennis Hall, fiddler and vocalist Eddie Bond, his wife Bonnie Bond on bass and vocals, Josh Ellis on banjo, and Caroline Noel Beverley on mandolin. Still most often referred to locally as “The Bogtrotters,” the band enjoys playing for area square dances and festivals, and are a fixture in local fiddlers’ conventions, where they have won innumerable old time band contests and often provide the backup music for dance competitions. Along with their seemingly endless string of local gigs, the band’s performances have included the Smithsonian Folk Festival, Chicago Folk Festival, Great Lakes Folk Festival, Montana Folk Festival, the Kennedy Center, and many others. 

Eddie Bond, the band’s fiddler since 2001, was recently recognized with the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor that the United States bestows on traditional artists. uncountable A blistering player and powerful singer in the soulful Appalachian tradition, Eddie was raised up in a family of musicians in the Grayson County mill town of Fries (pronounced “Freeze”). Bond was taught by a maternal grandmother who played guitar and sang music handed down for generations through the Hill family, musicians well-documented in the Library of Congress’ archival field recordings. His paternal grandparents played guitar and sang; his Grandmother Bond was from the same region of North Carolina as Doc Watson and taught Eddie many of the old mountain ballads he sings today. One of the most influential members of his family was his Great Uncle, Leon Hill, a musician who took him to visit many of the local fiddlers from whom he learned. Family friends included master performers such as Kilby Snow and Glen Smith. Bond first learned the guitar, then the banjo, autoharp, and his signature instrument, the fiddle.

Eddie has won uncountable fiddle contests and twice been named Best All-Around Performer at the Galax Fiddlers Convention—arguably the highest honor in old-time music. Bond has performed across the country and overseas, including the “Music from the Crooked Road” tours produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts. He regularly performs at festivals from Australia to Ireland, where he trades familiar tunes with local masters. Eddie also remains deeply committed to his local community: he performs locally as a solo artist and with others, and teaches a string band course at a high school in Grayson County. Much as the great old-time fiddling masters did for him, Bond never hesitates to take the time to teach, assist, and encourage the next generation of fiddlers.

Nguyen Dinh Nghia Family

Music from Vietnam
Fairfax, Virginia

 Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Photo by: Pat Jarrett

The late Nguyễn Đình Nghĩa, celebrated Vietnamese flautist and master of the T’rung (bamboo xylophone), rose to prominence in his native Saigon in the 1960s. During his illustrious career, Mr. Nguyễn was often compared to the legendary French flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal. Along with his family band, he performed widely across Europe and Southeast Asia before the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975. While waiting to emigrate from Vietnam, he spent nine years living with several ethnic tribes (Bahnar and Radé) of the Central Highlands in Vietnam, learning their music and acquiring their traditional instruments. In 1984, he and his family immigrated to Northern Virginia, where they performed at universities, performing arts centers, and festivals, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, and the Kennedy Center.

Following Nguyễn Đình Nghĩa’s untimely death in 2005, the family group has been under the direction of his daughter Nam Phuong Nguyen, master of the đàn bầu, a monochord (one-stringed) instrument with a central role in Vietnamese folk music. Popular legend claims the đàn bầu was first played by a blind woman in a market as she tried to earn money while her husband was at war. Translated to mean “gourd lute,” the đàn bầu is traditionally composed of a bamboo tube, a wooden rod, a coconut half shell, and a silk string. By plucking the string and manipulating it through the end rod, the đàn bầu can create microtones capable of imitating the six tones and variations of the Vietnamese language, something almost impossible to achieve with other instruments.

Nam Phuong Nguyen fell in love with the sound of the đàn bầu because of the way it mirrors a human voice. She began to play the đàn bầu at age seventeen, having previously mastered the sixteen-string zither, and later the bamboo flute and T’rung bamboo xylophone while studying at Vietnam’s National Conservatory of Music.  

Under Nam’s leadership, The Nguyễn Đình Nghĩa Family continues to perform throughout the United States. Nam is joined by her sister Doan Trang, specializing in the tam thập lục, a thirty-six string hammered dulcimer and bamboo flute, and her brothers Dinh Chien on guitar and Dinh Hoa on percussion.

 

Reverend Frank Newsome

Old Regular Baptist hymns
Haysi, Virginia

 Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Photo by: Pat Jarrett

An elder in the Old Regular Baptist Church, Frank Newsome is a master practitioner of lined-out hymn singing, one of the oldest musical traditions in Virginia. Newsome was born in 1942 in Pike County, Kentucky, where his father worked as a coal miner. One of twenty-two children, Newsome attended Old Regular Baptist Church services as a child with his mother. He settled in Virginia at about the age of twenty and worked in the coal mines. After more than seventeen years, Newsome contracted black lung disease and left the mines. He took up new responsibilities at his church, using his vocal prowess to lead his congregation in hymn singing and as a preacher. He preaches at the Little David Old Regular Baptist Church in Buchanan County, Virginia. A small, tightly knit denomination located primarily in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia, Old Regular Baptists maintain the tradition of permitting no musical accompaniment in their services. Instead, the congregation sings a cappella, with a preacher or elder singing a line of a hymn and the congregation repeating the same line in a mournful blend of voices. Because Old Regular Baptist churches remain in only a small geographic area, this musical genre is not well known outside the region. Yet despite the music’s relative obscurity, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Newsome the National Heritage Fellowship in 2011, the highest honor the U.S. government bestows upon traditional artists. This past year, Free Dirt Records reissued Gone Away with a Friend, an album of Newsome’s singing produced by the Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Humanities, which marks one of the few times that a leader of this singing style has been recorded. With the album’s re-release, Elder Frank has recently received some rather unfamiliar attention, including an appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air and a feature article in Billboard Magazine. Still, his newfound notoriety hasn’t gone to his head: “I’m not doing this for no big name or no pat on the back,” Frank said. “I don’t want that. I’m just an old country feller. I ain’t got nothing and I ain’t looking for nothing. But I believe I’ve got a home in heaven when I leave here.”

Sherman Holmes Project

Americana/Blues
Saluda, Virginia

 Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Photo by: Pat Jarrett

The year 2015 marked the end of an amazing journey for the Holmes Brothers, a group with humble beginnings on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula who performed a joyous and moving blend of blues, gospel, soul, rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and country for more than 50 years. Sherman and Wendell Holmes were raised by schoolteacher parents who fostered the boys’ early interest in music by playing recordings of traditional Baptist hymns, anthems, and spirituals, as well as blues music by Jimmy Reed, Junior Parker, and B. B. King. Sherman studied composition and music theory at Virginia State University before heading to New York City, where Wendell joined him. In 1979, the duo formed the Holmes Brothers band with Sherman on bass, Wendell on guitar, and Popsy Dixon on drums. With their soulful singing, uplifting harmonies, and unsurpassed musicianship, the Holmes Brothers blended Saturday night roadhouse rock with the gospel fervor and harmonies of a Sunday morning church service. During their remarkable career, the band played and recorded with the brightest stars of the blues and rock ‘n’ roll scene including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, and Van Morrison, and in 2014 received the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor the United States bestows on traditional artists. Sadly, 2015 saw the passing of both Wendell and Popsy, ending the Holmes Brothers’ remarkable run. Despite these devastating losses, Sherman has remained dedicated to carrying on his musical career, collaborating with a range of blues, bluegrass, and gospel artists, and forming the Sherman Holmes Project. At the age of 78, Sherman released The Richmond Sessions, produced by the Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Humanities, his first solo recording in his more than 50-year career. The album carries on the spirit of the revered Holmes Brothers by reimagining songs and making them their own. The Sherman Holmes Project band is largely a Virginia-style family affair, showcasing some of the finest musicians from a wide range of styles across the state. Sherman’s 2018 Richmond Folk Festival set will feature Richmond gospel sensations Reverend Almeta Ingram-Miller and Cora Harvey Armstrong, multi-instrumentalist Jared Pool, and National Heritage Fellowship recipient and harmonica legend Phil Wiggins.

Flatpick Guitar Masters: Scott Fore and Brandon Davis

Radford and Independence, Virginia

 Brandon Davis - Photo by: Peter Hedlund

Brandon Davis - Photo by: Peter Hedlund

The guitar was primarily used as a rhythm instrument in the United States until the late 1930s. As more and more guitar players began to play lead breaks on the guitar throughout the 1940s and ’50s, two main styles emerged—“fingerstyle” and “flatpicking.” The term “flatpicking” originated with early lead acoustic guitar players in traditional country and bluegrass music who used a plectrum to play the guitar. The plectrum of choice was called a “flat pick” or “straight pick,” as opposed to the use of finger picks, thumb picks, or bare fingers to pick the guitar’s strings. Southwest Virginia, deeply steeped in bluegrass and old time music and home to some of the fiercest guitar contests, has long been one of the nation’s great centers for flatpicking.

 Scott Fore - Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Scott Fore - Photo by: Pat Jarrett

Scott Fore grew up in musically rich Washington County, spending his summers attending fiddler’s conventions throughout Virginia and North Carolina. Scott learned guitar at the feet of the masters in late night jam sessions and by studying the competitors in guitar contests. Before long Scott began competing as well, and in time began winning numerous flatpicking competitions, including the prestigious Winfield Guitar World Championships, the Galax Fiddler’s Convention, and the Wayne C. Henderson All-Star Competition. In addition to competing in guitar contests, Scott has performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, and the National Folk Festival.

Brandon Davis was born to a musical family in Galax, Virginia, in 1977. At the age of ten, Brandon learned to play bass, backing up his father, bluegrass guitarist Gary Davis. It wasn't long before Brandon turned to the guitar himself, with Gary schooling him in the basics of fiddle tunes and bluegrass standards. Living in the musically rich hills of southwestern Virginia, Brandon had the opportunity to listen and jam with some of the best roots-based musicians in the country. And as an early means of incentive, his parents pledged to purchase him a guitar built by National Heritage Award winning luthier Wayne Henderson if Brandon could master the traditional fiddle tune "Blackberry Blossom.” Brandon mastered the tune and his parents kept their promise. Ten years later, Brandon earned a second coveted Henderson guitar by winning the prestigious guitar contest at the Wayne C. Henderson Festival and Guitar Championship, where first prize is a Henderson guitar. Fueled by the motivation instilled in his youth, Brandon honed his craft and has been compared to such luminary artists as Doc Watson, Tony Rice, David Grier, and the namesake of his prized instrument, Wayne Henderson.