Song Premiere: Willard Gayheart – “My Henderson Guitar”

The Fretboard Journal is proud to premiere Willard Gayheart’s “My Henderson Guitar,” a song found on the 87 year-old musician’s forthcoming (and debut!) solo album, At Home in the Blue Ridge (out May 24). Gayheart is no stranger to fans of acclaimed luthier Wayne Henderson: He’s a fixture at Wayne’s annual music festival and his pencil illustration work is legendary around the Galax, Virginia region. Not surprisingly, he has a cherished guitar from the builder… an heirloom he decided to celebrate in song.

Gayheart explains this composition: “I wrote this song about seven or so years ago. Wayne Henderson, of course, is one of the finest luthiers out there, and my Henderson guitar is one of my most prized possessions. A lot of people ask about what it is that makes one of Wayne’s guitars so special. Of course there’s the tone, and they’re really set up so good. But really, I think that his guitars are special because of what a special person Wayne is, and folks love his guitars because of a connection with him. I got my Henderson guitar in 1992, a D-28 dreadnought model that I traded for a drawing I made of him. Wayne has always really liked my drawings which means a whole lot to me, and I’ve done some other drawings of him since. I just wrote this as a tribute to Wayne.”

At Home in the Blue Ridge was produced by Teddy Thompson and also features Gayheart’s granddaughter, Dori Freeman, Nick Falk and Freeman’s father, Scott Freeman. It was recorded live in Willard’s Galax frame shop, showcasing yet another heartwarming facet of Appalachia’s thriving music culture.