Why You Should Care: Benson is the latest creative endeavor of award-winning banjo player Kristin Scott Benson (five-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, recipient of the Steve Martin Award for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo and member of the GRAMMY-nominated Grascals) and her husband, award-winning mandolinist Wayne Benson (25-year veteran of the seven-time IBMA Vocal Group of the Year, Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out). This distinctive collaboration — their first as jointly featured artists—serves to bring a shared musical vision of the Bensons to life, as they embrace the modern music landscape of streaming and other digital outlets.
With the release of their third single for Mountain Home Music Company, Benson— that’s award-winning banjo player Kristin Scott Benson and her husband, acclaimed mandolinist Wayne Benson in their first collaborative setting — up the ante with a hard-edged, hard-grooving lament that asks, “What Kind of Fool Are You?” The track triangulates the contours of the duo’s wide-ranging appeal, as it follows the nuanced, contemporary sound and gospel message of “Oh Me of Little Faith” and the engaging blend of old-time tones and rhythmic funk of their instrumental debut, “Conway.”
Written by award-winning songwriter Becky Buller and frequent collaborator Tony Rackley, the song begins with a faintly ominous figure from mandolin and banjo before lead singer Grayson Lane jumps in with the lyric’s first of a set of challenges:
What kind of fool would take me by the hand
And lead me halfway down a dead-end road
The theme is expanded on in a series of four taut verses and a devastating chorus:
There are fools for riches and fools for love
There's fools that make wishes on the stars up above
I guess that we're all dreamers, Lord knows I'm one too
Tell me what kind of fool are you
Recalls Kristin, "When we were listening to demos for material, Wayne loved this one right away and had the idea for the recurring instrumental riff. I think the highlight of this song is definitely Grayson Lane's lead vocal. What a talent! He did this in the same key that Becky demo'd it in, so that shows how high this kid can sing! Stylistically, he's as versatile as they come and we were really lucky to get him to be a part of the project.”
"We had so much fun recording this track,” adds Wayne. “Thanks to Becky for forwarding the demo. Grayson did a great job on the lead vocal and everyone gets a chance to play with this arrangement."
Abetted by that “everyone” — long-time friends and colleagues Cody Kilby (Travelin’ McCourys) on guitar; Appalachian Road Show’s Jim VanCleve (fiddle); Mickey Harris (Rhonda Vincent & The Rage) on harmony vocals, and Carley Arrowood Band bassist Paul Watson — the Bensons put plenty of musical muscle into the song’s three and a half minutes. With “What Kind of Fool Are You?”, Benson shows that the duo are modern masters of the quintessentially bluegrass combination of a gloomy narrative and irresistible, catchy music.
Benson is a collaborative effort between two of bluegrass music's most treasured instrumentalists: Wayne and Kristin Scott Benson. With decades of experience in top-tier bands, both have established themselves as stalwarts in the community. After years of paving separate musical paths, the two finally decided it was time to integrate their identities and create something new together. Benson is their first combined effort, despite having been married for over 20 years.
Wayne Benson is a 25-year veteran of the seven-time IBMA Vocal Group of the Year, Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out. He is on the short list of mandolin players who have signature models with Gibson Musical Instruments.
Kristin Scott Benson is a five-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year and recipient of the Steve Martin Award for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo. She has been a member of the GRAMMY-nominated Grascals since 2008.