Wayne Henderson was born in Grayson County, Virginia, where he lives today. He is a full-time instrument builder and musician, specializing in building guitars, and playing in a unique finger-picking style. Though he has lived in Virginia all of his life, Henderson has played countless performances in Western North Carolina, been a member of Western North Carolina bands, and influenced many regional musicians, through both his music and craft. He developed a unique style of using a thumbpick and fingerpicks, making his playing sound like flatpicking, with fast, accurate, and clean notes.
Henderson’s father and uncle were musicians who played with Estil Ball, an admired finger-style guitar player from the area who influenced Wayne’s playing. Inspired by Ball, Wayne ordered a cheap guitar from the Sears catalogue. Disappointed with that instrument, he decided to build his own guitar, out of a used dresser drawer bottom. When he struggled to find the proper glue for his newly crafted instrument, he sought out the advice of a neighbor, Albert Hash, who built fiddles and other instruments. With Hash’s encouragement, Wayne continued working on his instrument building.
He sold his second guitar in exchange for some tools and cash. “Ever since,” he says, “somebody’s wanted one as soon as I get it finished.” For years he worked as a rural mail carrier, spending his off-time performing and building guitars and other instruments. He has become so famous that he has a long backlog of orders placed for guitars. Henderson has built guitars for Doc Watson, Gillian Welch, Peter Rowan, and Eric Clapton.
Wayne Henderson has trained several apprentices, taught intensive workshops, and given informal discussions about instrument building and repair. He has been a regularly featured instructor at the Augusta Heritage workshops in Elkins, West Virginia.
Henderson is an accomplished performer. He has won more than 300 ribbons at fiddlers’ convention competitions. He was featured as part of the Masters of the Steel Guitar tours, and has traveled internationally. Wayne has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, on A Prairie Home Companion, and for the 1992 presidential inauguration. He has hosted the annual Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition since 1995. Winning the competition is said to be the only way to skip ahead of the waiting list for a Henderson Guitar.
Since Danny’s father Bob Paisley (founder of Southern Grass) passed away in 2004, Danny Paisley and The Southern Grass have made their niche in the bluegrass world, producing consecutive chart-topping albums. The group has been given over 15 Bluegrass Music Award Nominations, and has won the 2009 IBMA Song of the Year for “Don’t Throw Mama’s Flowers Away,” and in 2016 Danny Paisley was awarded the IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year. A moment revered by his peers who gave him a standing ovation. In 2020, Paisley joined an elite group of vocalists to be awarded the Male Vocalist of the Year for the second time; an achievement only given to eight others in Bluegrass music history.
With Danny Paisley on guitar, Southern Grass continues the family tradition by adding Danny’s son Ryan on mandolin, the next generation of up and coming pickers. Southern Grass continues the rich musical heritage of started by Bob Paisley and Ted Lundy with Lundy’s sons T.J. (Fiddle) and Bobby (Bass and Vocals). T.J. Lundy is a highly respected fiddler bridging the gap between old-time fiddling and bluegrass music. Bobby Lundy is also a renowned multi-instrumentalist who has gained attention for his unique bass style. Southern Grass also includes Mark Delaney (formerly with Randy Waller and the Country Gentlemen, and Darren Beachley & Legends of the Potomac) on banjo.
Danny Paisley, born in Landenberg, PA in 1959, grew up listening to the music his father Bob played and enjoyed hearing the sounds of classic bluegrass like Red Allen, Mac Martin, Bill Monroe, the Stanleys, Reno and Smiley, and the Osbornes. In addition to old-time mountain music and traditional country music. Once you hear Danny sing, it comes as no surprise that he lists George Jones and Vern Gosdin as major influences in his singing.