Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Wayne Henderson, Guitar Maker
Update: June 19, 2012. I am pleased to announce that our TV segment on Wayne Henderson -- the one that accompanies this blog has won an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is truly an honor for my photographer/editor Curt Schruth and I to have been able to do a story on a man as deserving as Wayne Henderson and to receive recognition for it.
It's important to recognize the commitment of Fox 21/27 to this project. There are very few places in today's television environment where a reporter is allowed to seek out these out-of-the way stories. So thank you to Fox and to you, the viewers for appreciating our efforts.
The story can be viewed here. http://youtu.be/uFs5WCak_SU
It's hard to figure out how Wayne Henderson can be so humble.
Really. Either it's the best delivery of false modesty I've ever seen, or Henderson is truly gifted.
We know he's gifted when it comes to making and playing guitars. He played in my story, and he plays all around the world. He says younger players are better than he, but that he could once hold his own.
"That's the way it's supposed to be. The young hot player of the day deserves his time. I had mine," he told me when I asked about awards he has won at the famous Galax Fiddler's Convention.
As we reported on TV, Henderson charges only about $4,000 for one of his guitars, even though they often bring upwards of $40,000 on the secondary market. Even though the wait for a Henderson guitar is years -- from four to twenty depending upon whom you talk to.
"I never had any money growing up, don't see much need for any now," he said during our on-camera interview
Who says that?
Yet Henderson walks the proverbial walk. He lives about a mile from where he's always lived and gone to school. He produces masterpieces in a nondescript brick building. It's purely functional. I thought it would be at least, quaint. Take a look at the pictures. Judge for yourself.
As I reported from the Floyd Country Store earlier in May, the key to the popularity and success of the Crooked Road Music Trail and the mountain music it celebrates and promotes, is the authenticity.
I loved the line from the interview in which Henderson recounts having played at Carnegie Hall. When asked where he would play the following weekend he told the fan, "... at the Rugby Rescue Squad."
Now that's a great answer. It's funny. It's Clever. It's quick. It made me laugh, and I'm sure he trying to be funny. I wish I could be that witty. To be clear, Henderson knows it's funny. I'm sure it gets a great smile from anyone lucky enough to hear him tell the story. But I wonder if he was trying to be funny when he answered the question there in New York.
Henderson say he prefers to play the small towns around here. He really doesn't want fame and fortune. He really did keep his day job as a mail carrier for decades even though he could have earned more making guitars -- which he obviously loved.
He thought a pension and health insurance were more important than taking the risk. That's just common sense.
That's just Wayne Henderson.
Every year Henderson hosts the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition on the third Saturday in June at the Grayson Highlands State Park.
The winner receives a Wayne Henderson guitar.
Since the festival began in 1995, more than $57,000 has been awarded to aid young, local, traditional musicians in continuing their music exploration and education.