This talented mandolinist, who has sometimes been mistaken for a wax figure due to his concentrated, nearly motionless stage presence, was born into a North Carolina family in which playing bluegrass was considered to be in the blood. Initially he played guitar and mandolin just to have something to do at family gatherings, but as a teenager his interest in the smaller stringed axe became quite intense. At 14, while some of his peers were obsessed with their pimples and how to get rid of them, Wayne Benson was thinking about how Bill Monroe had influenced the playing style of Ricky Skaggs. His father encouraged the bluegrass obsession, acquiring an excellent quality mandolin and then declaring it forbidden for the child to touch in a wise bit of reverse psychology.
Clay Jones, one of Benson's local picking partners, was apparently the one who hipped him to the development of a playing style called newgrass and its leading proponents such as mandolinist Sam Bush. By the time he was in his late teens, Benson was part of a sizzling late-night jam session scene in Denton, NC. The newgrass influence was overwhelming in this scenario, players reaching for new heights of intensity à la jazz fusion and putting together repertoires that might have confused the style-shifting denizens of the New York City downtown sound. One band Benson became involved with out of the dent that was being made in Denton was Livewire in 1989. In 1993 the mandolinist joined IIIrd Tyme Out; it was not the final notes for Livewire, which re-formed for gigs in 1999. He is best known for his membership in the former band, however, IIIrd Tyme Out's remarkable success leading to honors such as awards and a Tucker mandolin model named after Benson. The mandolinist's talents also include songwriting and studio work. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi