Steve Wilson started off as most Musicians and Luthiers likely did, growing up with a love of playing music with family. A respect for the sound of the instruments themselves. Later in life, he was fortunate to find himself living in Nashville and working at Gibson, within the Custom Shop, designing and building custom art pieces. Many of these were special orders for a long, distinguished list of players. He learned from the best, and this experience would leave an imprint on his life that stayed with him to this day.
While in Nashville, Steve also honed his craft in Bluegrass music, specifically, playing the Banjo, which quickly became his master instrument. Studying with many of the well-respected teachers in the area, playing countless hours with local bands, and lending his talents in the recording studio from time to time, Bluegrass music was definitely where Steve planned to hang his hat for the long haul.
After moving back to NY to raise his children closer to their extended family, Steve joined a couple of bands, enjoyed the festival seasons, his friends and did instrument repairs for folks here and there while casually building a guitar or banjo along the way.
Now that the kids are grown and Steve and his wife, Melanie have settled back down South in what he sees as his “forever home” of South Carolina, he is looking forward to getting back to building instruments on a more than casual level again and pickin' a lot of bluegrass! Steve has enjoyed playing bluegrass music with several bands including, Plexigrass, Carol Beaugard and Blue Express, Grasscutters, C&T Bluegrass, Cannonhole Rounders, and most currently, Dave Snyder and Last Road here in Upstate South Carolina.
Will Clark was playing the mandolin by the time he was five years old and as he grew, the guitar, banjo, and later dobro and bass would follow. Not only was it clear that playing music was in his future…he could sing like there was no tomorrow! As a young boy, Clark found himself onstage with IIIrd Tyme Out at Pickens High School during one of their songs and felt in his heart that there was no looking back from that feeling. This was what he wanted to do forever.
As a teen, Will was a member of some regional bands that gained local fame, Tucker's Town of Cashiers, NC and the popular Bostic Yard of Rutherfordton, NC. Later on, Will toured with the great James King and his band, as well as Williamson Branch, and developed a great working knowledge of what it's like to live on the road. Surprisingly, this didn't deter him…Will must be destined to be a Bluegrass musician. Lucky for Wilson Banjo Co., he is with our band family now and we are proud to bring him to your stage.
Talented young bass player, Dakoda Hensley has travelled a lot with his family since the age of ten, and while doing so, he began playing music. During his journey Dakoda was fortunate enough to play on many stages nationwide with professional bluegrass musicians including Infamous String Dusters, Jesse McReynolds, George Hamilton III, and many sub-regional bands. After traveling for his family he attended ETSU (East Tennessee State University), he played in two bluegrass bands, one country band, and another folk band. It was during this time that he began learning bass, guitar, and harmony vocals under the guidance of the esteemed ETSU faculty.
Hensley and Wilson Banjo Co. guitar player, Kyle Leapard have history and have played music together for quite some time socially and in a previous band, NewFire. Dakoda also met Steve Wilson in another band, Last Road, in which they both played for about a year. He is the only member of the current touring Wilson Banjo Co. band band to appear on the latest release “The Guardian”, having played bass throughout the album and doing a fantastic job. Dakoda also plays mandolin with Wilson Banjo Co. and we feel very fortunate to have this young man on board!
Kyle Leapard has a long love of music in his history and began getting serious with his guitar playing around age 11. Soon after that, at age 13, he picked up the banjo began his future in bluegrass music. When Leapard was 16 years old, he joined a band called Newfire, playing with them until he was 18, at which time he decided to go into the Army. Kyle was deployed to Iraq not long after completing his training to help run aviation combat missions. Upon his return stateside, he quickly picked up with his old band for a while longer, releasing an album during that time.
Last year, when asked to join Wilson Banjo Co., he didn't think twice, music and military have always been the two passions and dreams he wanted to follow. Kyle is a great vocalist and guitar player and just an all around fun, outgoing person to be around. We are so proud of his military service and to have him as part of the band.