The string band and bluegrass tradition is played with the enthusiasm of modern music by clawhammer banjo player Mac Benford. A founding member of the Highwoods Stringband, Benford played a key role in the old-time revival of the 1970s. With his latest group, the Woodshed All Stars, he's continued to breathe new life into an old musical genre.
Although Benford was initially attracted to the American folk music of the late 1950s, he quickly became absorbed by the sounds of traditional Appalachian fiddle and banjo tunes. Shortly after moving to Ithaca, New York, in 1972, he helped to form the Highwoods Stringband. During the six years they played together, the band recorded three albums -- Fire on the Mountain, Dance All Night and Number Three Special -- and had a profound influence on the evolution of modern bluegrass. Although the three albums are no longer in print, Rounder released an anthology, Feed Your Babies Onions: Fat City Favorites, in 1994.
Benford initially assembled the Woodshed All-Stars in 1990, to record a album to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. While the band showcased the north Georgia twin fiddle sound of Pete Sutherland and John Kirk, the group also spotlighted the vocals and original songs of Marie Burns of the Burns Sisters. The session, released on cassette by Marimac, proved so successful that the group became a more permanent ensemble. Their second album, Willow, was released by Rounder in 1996.
Benford has also performed with the Backwoods Band, the Uncles and the Mac Benford Old Time Band. ~ Craig Harris