John hails from Boone, NC and comes from a rich musical heritage including ties to the Watson family from Deep Gap, NC. John’s great grandpa (on his mom’s side of the family), Willard Watson, was an old-time banjo player, dancer and first cousin to the legendary Doc Watson. John’s great grandfather on his dad’s side of the family played guitar and sang as well, so it just natural that John grew up learning from and loving the great mountain music of that region.
John started singing at a very early age in church with his mother and then began playing bluegrass at the age of 14. Not only does John play guitar but he also carries on the family tradition of playing clawhammer and old-time banjo like his paw Willard. Some of John’s greatest musical influences include Ira Louvin (The Louvin Brothers), Jim McReynolds (Jim & Jesse and The Virginia Boys), Bobby Osborne (The Osborne Brothers), The Stanley Brothers, The Johnson Mountain Boys, and many others.
Before joining The Grascals in April 2015, John played guitar and sang tenor with Larry Efaw and The Bluegrass Mountaineers and prior to that he was a member of the Boone-based group, Surefire, that he formed as a teenager. Though John is the youngest member of The Grascals in age – just 25 years old – he has traveled all over the United States and Canada performing bluegrass music and it truly is part of who he is!