Ben Helson – hometown hero

Ben HelsonWhen Rhonda Vincent introduced the new members of her band earlier this week, a good many bluegrass fans recognized the name of her new banjo player, Aaron McDaris, from his time with The Grascals.

Fewer, perhaps, knew the name of her new guitarist, Ben Helson. Though he had been a member of Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder for nearly a year, his role in that band kept him in the background, and many Vincent fans are just learning about this talented young man.

Fortunately, The McKenzie Banner newspaper in Carroll County, TN has a lengthy feature on Ben which was published in 2007. Interestingly, this article discusses how Ben had auditioned for the Rage in November ’07, but failed to win the job.

It seems that good things do come to those who wait, as evidenced by this excerpt from the article, which focuses in large part on Helson’s time as a member of Renaissance, a student musical group at Bethel College.

"Performing with Rhonda has been my dream ever since I started playing bluegrass," he says. "Singing harmony is something I really like doing and it’s great singing harmony with her because she’s perfect; she sings very well."

The lanky, 21-year-old Kentucky boy had already proved a standout at Renaissance shows across the country. That’s what Renaissance does: it takes talented young people from diverse regions of the country and molds them into a dynamic musical force that energizes audiences with expertly orchestrated performances. Individually, its members work hard to achieve common goals, mixing fun and friendship with a hands-on musical education directed by some of the best in the business. That, plus the experience they get performing before audiences that range from a few members to thousands, prepares them for opportunities otherwise beyond reach.

Read the full piece online.

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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.