I was born on October 9, 1947 in Hickory NC to George Sr. and Retta. As a newborn, I was short and bald, and I have managed to remain true to that ideal, altering my personage only by the addition of a perfectly coifed beard, a paradigm shift in philosophy after two divorces, a successful career as a banjo player (heretofore mutually exclusive concepts: "success" and "banjo"), and a fabric of life with The Kingston Trio woven throughout.
When I was nine years old, my sister Joanie brought home a record which I immediately appropriated as my own; Live at the Hungry i. I was instantly swept up in Triomania, teaching myself the exact parts vocally and instrumentally of every song the Trio recorded. I formed folk groups in high school & college, was drafted into the army after matriculation from Wake Forest University, and played trumpet and piano in the Army band. After spending several years in Nashville playing at Opryland and doing studio work, I answered the call of the wild (Bob) to audition for the Trio. Two weeks later, around the end of October 1976, I joined the group in Chicago and the rest, as they say, is a resume.
In May of 1983 The Kingston Trio performed in New York City at Carnegie Hall. This stands out as one of my proudest moments with the Trio since Carnegie is the ultimate performance venue in the U.S. As a child I had heard of all the great pianists having given their preeminent performances in Carnegie Hall, and I wanted to be one of them. On this date, with The Kingston Trio, I was to have my opportunity. When performance time came, I walked out on to a stage that had held the greatest talents in the world, hearing the creaking floorboards that had also creaked under their feet. As I was introduced by Bob to sing my solo, from the box seats in the back of the hall I heard my Mom's voice, "That's my boy!!" In a split second there flashed all of the hours that she had sat listening to me practice piano, guitar and banjo, and all was right with the world.
My life was a bachelor's dream in Southern California from '88-'96. But in 1996 I moved to Las Vegas to share my life with Cindy, a career schoolteacher whose abilities to encourage children to do their best is exceeded only by her education, her honest Midwestern values and her extraordinary patience with my itinerant lifestyle. With her encouragement I finally crawled out of my banjo case, went back to graduate school (at UNLV), and earned a Master of Music degree in jazz composition, graduating in December, 2001.
In October 2013 I began my 38th year with The Kingston Trio, longer than any other member with the exception of Bob Shane. I have spent these years on the road because of my love of performance, my respect for the music and my admiration of the group that fomented it. Personally, the Trio has seen me throughout an enormous amount of growth. Professionaly, it has permitted me to become involved and stay involved with music and musicians of considerable ablilty. For me, the singing of Tom Dooley every night is not just the repetition of a song, but a devotion to a concept known as The Kingston Trio.