mandolin

photo of tony williamson holding a mandolin
Courtesy of Tony Williamson

This year is the 50th anniversary of mandolin player Tony Williamson’s recording career. Throughout the years, he has played with bluegrass legends like Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs and Sam Bush. But in the 1980s, Williamson suffered a series of accidents and injuries, and a surgeon told him he would never play the mandolin again. He went through a long transition that included experimenting with Chinese medicine, a spiritual awakening and trying to look at the world a little differently.

Jonathan Byrd

Growing up in Chapel Hill, Jonathan Byrd never thought he could make a career out of playing music. But some soul-searching after a stint in the U.S. Navy and a series of disappointing jobs led him to question why he was forcing himself into doing things he wasn’t good at and didn’t love. Jonathan began touring and performing his original songs, folksy ballads infused with bluegrass-style flat-picking and classic rock foundations. With “Pickup Cowboy” Johnny Waken, the duo aims first and foremost to put on a great show that will energize the audience.