27 January 2015
Eddie Adcock, Scottsville native and trailblazing bluegrass musician, won the 2014 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music. Along with national recognition, Adcock received $50,000 and may play a televised show with Steve Martin.
“I’m totally unique,” said Adcock, 76, explaining why he won the prestigious prize. “I don’t play like anyone else. People copy me – I don’t copy them.”
For example, Adcock took a style of guitar playing called Travis picking and modified it for the banjo. “You don’t have enough strings to do it correctly on the banjo unless you figure out something that other people don’t know – which is what I did,” Adcock said.
He also plays a pedal steel style. “Pedal steel people sit behind a steel guitar and have eight or 10 different pedals they push with their feet and knees to make a certain sound,” Adcock explained. “They slide into chords. I figured out a way to mimic that sound without pedals on the banjo.”
These innovations and others like them made Adcock into one of the most revolutionary banjo players in bluegrass music. “All my life I’ve played very progressive,” he said.
But this famous bluegrass player knows where he comes from. “Oh, I got my start in Scottsville,” Adcock said fondly. When he was seven-years-old he began playing a small “squeeze box,” or accordion, and from there moved on to play the organ. “Momma used to pump it and I used to play it,” he said. “I got started from there.”