15 year old Gibson Davis subs for Kristin Scott Benson with The Grascals

Kristin Scott Benson laid her dad, Fred Scott, 84, of Union, SC, to rest this past weekend. One thing that she didn’t have to worry over was the shows that she would be missing with her band, The Grascals. Band mate, Chris Davis’s 15 year old son, Gibson, stepped in to sub during her absence.

Benson has had a long standing relationship with the Davis family. “I’ve known Gibson since before he was born. Chris and I played for Larry Cordle when they were expecting, and I remember that season well. There is a little less than a year between Gibson and my and Wayne’s son, Hogan, so we had that ‘new parent’ season in common.”

She praised her stand-in. “Gibson has largely figured out everything on his own. I’ve been impressed with his ability to learn and refine everything he plays without the help of any specific person. He’s created a lot of independence for himself as a musician, which is a great skill. Every time we hear him, he has gotten noticeably better and that speaks to his ambition and work ethic.”

“He’s a great kid. We’ve always liked him. Even when he was little, he was always easy to be with. So, you don’t have to worry about those 12-15 hour overnight trips being taxing, traveling with a kid, because Gibson has always been calm and mature.”

Gibson, a 10th grader at Cabell Midland High School in West Virginia, was eager to assist Benson in her time of need. “Dad’s been with the Grascals for a couple of years now. I know the Grascals’ catalog. They thought I’d been around them and was familiar with their material. Danny Roberts sent me about 15-20 songs.”

The teenager whipped out his banjo, practiced the tunes, and hit the road with the longtime touring band. The Grascals performed at Music on the Town, a street festival in Dandridge, TN, on Thursday. They then drove to Sullivan, IL, and played at Backyard Bluegrass on Friday. Then on Saturday, they headed west to Wagoner, OK, for the Bluegrass & Chili Fest.

Gibson confessed, “That was my first professional gig. It was 39 hours on the road in a mini-bus. I’d never ridden along on a three day stretch. We slept riding.”

“It was a real honor to fill-in for Kristin who’s won Banjo Player of the Year six times. I had big shoes to fill, and I think I’m still a few sizes too short, but it was a thrill and an honor.”

Gibson is already looking to a future in the music industry. “I hopefully anticipate a career in music. It’s what I want. I’m going to try my best to make it happen.”

Chris Davis, Gibson’s dad, praised his offspring. “He played like a pro. I couldn’t have been happier as a father and musician. Spending four days on the road in a bluegrass band is not for the faint of heart. I believe he’s going to be just fine if he chooses music as a career choice!”

Benson closed with words of love for a life well-lived and words of gratitude for support from a young friend. “There is no way I could have played the banjo without my dad’s love and support. He loved that I played. I owe him everything.

“My dad’s final service was intimate, just for close family and friends. We celebrated with the guys closest to him; some had even grown up with him. We heard a ton of great stories and I played When You and I Were Young, Maggie for him. It’s the last song he ever asked me to play. So, Gibson filling-in for me with the Grascals allowed me to play for my dad one last time.”

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.