Today, we’re going to feature another Bluegrass artist on the rise, and it’s none other than Scott Vestal, banjo player, designer, and composer extraordinaire.
Like many Bluegrass greats, Scott Vestal was born in the country – Duncan, Oklahoma to be specific – on May 8, 1962. And also like many Bluegrass legends, his family was his first and primary source of musical influence. Famon Self, his grandfather, had played the fiddle and was responsible for introducing the young Vestal to guitar playing.
In time, he and Curtis, Vestal’s older brother, accompanied their grandfather in various country events which ranged from the town’s most anticipated parades to secluded nursing homes to famous Bluegrass festivals.
Vestal received his first five-string banjo – the musical instrument he would later be best known for – as a gift for his thirteenth birthday. With the banjo, his father’s records of Bluegrass acts such as New Grass Revival and Flatt & Scruggs had been Vestal’s greatest teachers.
After years of constant hard work and gaining experience from touring the country with local bands, Vestal earned his first professional break at the young age of 18. Upon moving to the East Coast, Vestal’s first year had mostly revolved around performing with Larry Sparks. Soon after that, he became one of the pioneer members of the Southern Connection, which had enjoyed successful East coast and Midwest tours for over three years.
In 1985, Vestal became part of a quartet that featured Doyle Lawson and with whom he enjoyed tremendous international success as they toured Europe and Canada. After winning several awards for their albums, Vestal and Lawson parted ways and Vestal continued on to form Livewire, an acoustic jazz ensemble.
After Livewire, Vestal joined David Parmley and the Continental Divide, which was blessed with a trio of award-winning albums. It was during this time that Vestal also earned the 1996 IBMA Banjo Player of the Year award and Bluegrass Now Magazine Fan’s Choice Award for 1998 Banjo Player of the Year.
At present, Vestal is busy with numerous performances all over the country. He has also contributed his own design for a five-string banjo which is available as a limited edition production from Stealth Banjo.