Max Jackson, EV
Photos Courtesy of Ben Helson, Facebook
When looking for talented artists around Edmonson County, the search isn't all that difficult. Most folks simply don't realize what's here and what's from here. Recently we caught up with one our very own, Ben Helson, 28, who is currently the lead guitarist for country pop star Danielle Bradbery. At the time of our interview, he was in New York, on a tour with Danielle and Easton Corbin. Ben is the son of David and Tammie Alexander of Pine Grove, and Bart and Lynn Helson of Scottsville.
Ben got his start in music as a baby, constantly being exposed to his dad's bluegrass band, but started taking things seriously around age 13 when he and some buddies formed a rock band in middle school. His ability at a young age quickly caught the attention of audiences of all ages. He also played with his dad and another huge musical influence, Marty Elmore, in "Shades of Blue," a local bluegrass act. Soon after, he joined Calvin Ray's, a local music theater in the area, and was later given a music scholarship to play in the Renaissance Program at Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee. It was here where he began to be noticed by other people in the business, and soon got his first professional touring gig with The Larry Stephenson Band at age 20. He moved on from there to play for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, which was more of a "national" spotlight, where they did several shows with special guest and piano superstar Bruce Hornsby. Ben was able to perform on a live recording with the band along with Hornsby. He later went on to join Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, an international award winning bluegrass band, traveling nationally and beyond. He also performed as a vocalist and instrumentalist on three different albums for Vincent and the band.
His bluegrass tours took him from all across the US, to Switzerland, Ireland, and also France. It was just recently when he had an opportunity to play for Danielle Bradbery, winner of "The Voice," NBC's national singing competition. Going from bluegrass to pop-country would be a huge challenge for many guitarists, but Ben's experience with both acoustic and electric instruments paved the way for a fun and smooth transition. He is currently on the road with Bradbery, usually performing weekends only, which is a desirable schedule for most traveling musicians. When asked where did he see himself in the next 5-10 years, he replied, "Umm...Yeah. I guess I should probably start thinking about that..." as he laughed. He then said he would like to focus on studio work and other non-traveling musical opportunities, but for now, he's really enjoying the road. He lists his greatest musical accomplishment as being able to work at a professional level in two completely different genres of music, something that is extremely rare. That, and of course performing on the world famous Grand Ol' Opry, in Nashville Tennessee.
He said that with his schedule, he doesn't get to visit Edmonson County as often as he'd like, but makes the most of it when he comes home to visit his family. EC salutes Ben Helson, and we're all proud of his accomplishments. We'll welcome him back anytime he gets the opportunity. You can find out more about his touring schedule with Danielle Bradbery by visiting her website here.
photos courtesy of Ben Helson, Facebook.