Bluegrass bands form for all sorts of reasons but most often it’s because a group of folks enjoy picking together; they feel the chemistry is right, and decide to give it a run. South Carolina’s Wilson Banjo Company has a slightly different beginning.
Steve Wilson grew up like a lot of musicians, learning to appreciate and play music with his family. After a stint in the military, he found himself in Nashville unexpectedly working in the Custom Art Shop at the Gibson guitar plant, designing and building custom art pieces. Many of these happened to be special orders for Gibson’s distinguished list of player clients. The experience left a lasting impression on his life and sparked a new chapter.
Nashville also allowed him to discover his passion for Bluegrass music and to fall in love with the banjo. Over time he played with several bands and had the opportunity to lend his skills to others in the studio. Steve and his wife Melanie moved back to upstate New York to be close to family and raise their own, before moving back “down south.”
Along the way, Steve began building banjos and playing them with the bands he was in. Realizing that his instruments were attracting the attention of would be buyers Steve decided to form a band with the intention of being able to showcase the latest banjo he had built. The strategy worked as each instrument began finding new homes. “I’m actually building a new one now,” he said. “It’s for me, but if it goes away, it goes away.”
In the meantime, the band has taken on a life of its own, generating fans everywhere they play. “We’ve got a pretty busy schedule this spring and summer, and we’re actually working on an album that’s for the band, not the banjo,” he laughed. “We’ve got eight originals on this one. We’re hoping for an early summer release.” Of course, the album will be promoted by wife, Melanie, who runs her new management company, Wilson Pickins Promotions.
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