Sunday benefit set to help Osteen

Musicians playing say they “owe it all” to banjo teacher

PICKENS — Many of the bluegrass musicians playing in the benefit for banjo player and teacher Al Osteen say that Osteen had an immeasurable impact on their musical careers.
An all-star cast of bluegrass musicians will put on a concert this Sunday, Dec. 19, at Pickens High School to benefit Osteen, a world-famous banjo player and Young Appalachian Musicians teacher who is suffering from an aggressive form of cancer.
All proceeds from the concert and silent auction will go toward Osteen’s medical bills. Admission is $20 to the concert event, which will take place from noon to 8 p.m. at Pickens High School Auditorium. Children 12 and under will be able to enter for free. For tickets and information, call Betty McDaniel at (864) 878-4257 or visit
“Without Al’s influence, I doubt that I would have become a professional musician,” said Kristin Scott Benson, International Bluegrass Music Association three-time banjo player of the year, who is playing in the benefit. “His impact, personally and musically, is immeasurable.”
Charles Wood, also playing in Sunday’s line-up, is one of the world’s best banjo players.
“Al is not only my biggest musical influence, but one of the most influential people in my life overall,” said Wood. “He was one of the first and few highly accomplished Scruggs style five-string banjo players anywhere and learned to play in an era when there were no banjo teachers or instructional material. Al is a much more accomplished musician than and highly spoken of by many legendary players I have met.”
Isaac Ferrell, one of Osteen’s Young Appalachian Musicians students, was a recent junior banjo winner at the Galax and Union Grove bluegrass festivals.
“If it wasn’t for Al, I probably would not be playing the banjo,” Ferrell said. “Al took time with me; he never got frustrated when I needed help.”
Osteen has performed with some of the biggest acts in bluegrass music, including Jim and Jessie and Charlie Moore. He is also well known in Upstate South Carolina for his role as a teacher with the Young Appalachian Musicians (YAM) program, which teaches traditional bluegrass music to third- through eighth-grade students using local instructors.
In addition to the concert, a silent auction to benefit Osteen will feature many items, including a 175th anniversary edition Martin guitar, which can be viewed on the web site In addition, a 1931 Vega Whyte Laydie banjo is being raffled off on December 19. Raffle tickets are $10 each. Interested persons can call Betty McDaniel at (864) 878-4257 to sign up for the raffle ahead of time.
Concessions will be available at the concert, and performing artists and others will hold workshops and jam sessions throughout the day, all for the $20 ticket price.
Artists scheduled to appear at the benefit concert include Grand Ole Opry star Jesse McReynolds and 2010 Dove Award winners The Little Roy and Lizzy Show. A host of other artists are scheduled to appear, including Sweet Potato Pie Kids, a performing group of Young Appalachian Musicians, and Jack Lawrence, Tony Williamson, Larry Perkins, Curtis Burch, Leroy Savage, Craig Smith, Scott Huffman, Jeff Foxall, Curtis Blackwell, Randall Collins, Larry Jefferson, Northern Border, Roger Bellow, Dave Snyder, Tim Gardner, David Blackmon, Rickey Rakestraw, Jim Iler and Gerald Smith.