Tony Rice is an American guitarist and bluegrass musician born in Danville, Virginia. He is considered one of the most influential acoustic guitar players in bluegrass, progressive bluegrass, newgrass and acoustic jazz. Over the course of his career, he has played alongside J. D. Crowe and the New South, David Grisman and Jerry Garcia, led his own Tony Rice Unit, collaborated with Norman Blake, recorded with his brothers Wyatt, Ron, and Larry, and co-founded the Bluegrass Album Band. He has recorded with drums, piano, soprano sax, as well as with traditional bluegrass instrumentation. In 1983, Rice won a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance and was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2013.

Bascom Lamar Lunsford was born in Madison County, North Carolina in 1882. He grew up in a community that was rich in folk music and culture and in a family that shared in this appreciation. Known as “The Minstrel of the Appalachians”, Lunsford enjoyed performing and was quite accomplished. His true calling and lifelong mission, however, was to preserve and promote mountain music, dance, and culture. He championed mountain culture to the outside world, shining a light on its true worth and was a pioneer in providing a platform for it to be enjoyed by a wider audience. He gave Pete Seeger his first banjo lesson, he performed before 10,000 at Madison Square Garden, he wrote the standard “Good Old Mountain Dew”, his music influenced Bob Dylan and Robert Plant but it was his mountain culture that he chose to treasure most. While there were many highlights in Bascom’s musical career, there is one in particular he treasured most. In 1939, he performed at the White House for President Franklin and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and the King and Queen of England.

Bryan Sutton is the most accomplished and awarded acoustic guitarist of his generation, an innovator who bridges the bluegrass flatpicking traditions of the 20th century with the dynamic roots music scene of the 21st. His rise from buzzed-about young sideman to first-call Nashville session musician to membership in one of history’s greatest bluegrass bands has been grounded in quiet professionalism and ever-expanding musicianship. Sutton is a Grammy Award winner and a nine-time International Bluegrass Music Association Guitar Player of the Year. Today his discography reads like a roll call of Nashville’s last two decades, with credits on albums by Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Eric Church, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood and many more.

One of the most accomplished and adventurous old-time fiddlers in the country, Ralph Blizard was also an encouraging teacher and a tireless advocate for traditional music. By the time he was 14 years old, Ralph was fiddling. He formed his first band, the Southern Ramblers, in 1932 and began playing on local radio stations. During the early to mid-1930s, old-time music gained regional and national popularity, and Ralph Blizard and the Southern Ramblers were in the thick of it, playing radio shows almost daily. After serving in WWII and starting a family in the 1950s, Ralph took time off from music. In 1982 the New Southern Ramblers was formed and he spent the next twenty years making music. In June 1987 he was appointed to the Tennessee Arts Commission and worked hard to insure that future generations would have the chance to know and love the music that has meant so much to him. He received numerous awards and honors, including the 2002 National Heritage Fellowship, for which he was immensely grateful.

Herb Key has spent more than fifty years making, repairing and restoring musical instruments and has played music most of his life. His dad was a carpenter and he built the house Herb was born in. The house was remodeled over the years and Herb helped with this work. That is where he got his start in woodworking which allowed him to work on musical instruments later on. Herb Key presently works one day a week in Wayne Henderson’s Guitar Shop in Rugby, VA repairing and restoring mostly older instruments. The rest of time, he is repairing and restoring instruments in his shop at home in Wilkesboro, NC.

Herbert (Herb) Milton Key was born October 25, 1936 in Wilkes County, NC in a little community around Cub Creek Church.

Those that grew up during this period know just how hard times were during World War II.  Many fathers, like Herb’s, were away fighting for our freedom. But there were happy times too.  He will never forget how his mother stepped up and made life for his family as happy as possible.  She could strum the guitar and sing old ballads for her children. Two in particular that Herb remembers are “Barbara Allen” and the “Wildwood Flower”.  Those tunes and a small wooden encased radio actually started his long dedication to music and musical instruments. Later he learned to play on his mother’s guitar even though it was awfully hard to note.  Her guitar still hangs on his wall today. It was about that time when his grandmother’s old windup Victrola 78 record player came into the picture. Grandmother wouldn’t let Herb wind up the old Victrola but she would sit him in the floor while she played those old records for him.  One that she played over and over was the “Wildwood Flower” by the Carter Family. Mother Maybelle’s lead picking just “blew me away”. It took a while but Herb finally learned to play it. 

There wasn’t a whole lot of free time back then and there were many chores to be done like dragging limbs in from the woods which provided a lot of our heat and fuel for the wood cook stove.  When an axe handle broke or something “tore up” the solution was to fix it. This mind set allowed Herb to work on musical instruments a little later on.

Herb’s dad was a carpenter and he built the house that Herb was born in and where his younger brother still lives.  He remodeled it over the years and Herb helped him do a lot of that. Actually that’s where he got my start in woodworking.

Herb presently works one day a week in Wayne Henderson’s Guitar Shop in Rugby, VA repairing and restoring mostly older instruments.  The rest of time, he is repairing and restoring instruments in his shop at home in Wilkesboro, NC.   

Herb Key has spent around fifty years making, repairing and restoring musical instruments and have played music most of his life.