Derwin Hinson Interview

Derwin Hinson Interview by email

With Art Menius

Conrad Hinson grew up in eastern NC in Mollie, a little community between Tabor City and Whiteville in Columbus County. There was little to do outside of the farm work, and Dad was always intriqued by guitar pickers. Of course this was a tough time for a father to accept his son or part-time farm hand, wanting to be a guitar player, but grandaddy Dewey did give in. Conrad practiced every chance he got, and soon had learned about all the local folks could show him. He never missed a local program at the high school, Williams Township, which would include Flatt & Scruggs Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys, Carl Story, The Stanley Brothers, Reno & Smiley and several others.

Because of work Dad moved to Milwalkee, WI to live with his brother and met Marlene Cox. They were married after a almost two year courtship, then almost two years again, they had a son, Derwin. Dad found a dobro in a pawn shop while up there and started playing dobro. His hero being Uncle Josh Graves. This soon came in handy as within a year, we would move to Charlotte NC where Dad joined The Blue Ridge Partners. This group had some members I recall, Joe Ransome on Mandolin, Slim Burgess on Banjo Reid Baucom on guitar, Bob Long on fiddle, and daddy joined playing dobro. But later switched to guitar and sung the lead vocal part. They were offered a deal on Starday Records in 1966 or 67, but it just didn’t workout. I’ve often wondered about that…what if?

Due to my Grandfathers health, the family moved closer towards Columbus County, we landed in Hope Mills NC near Fayetteville, NC. Daddy joined a Bluegrass group that consisted of Bill Jordan, Bynum Culbreth, Jim Marley, & Eldrige Wood. This is who I got to go on Stage with, for the very first time! The Veterans Hospital in Fay- etteville was a pretty much regular thing for this band, so it gave me a chance to see if I liked it! (I DID!!)

Not very long after I began to play guitar which started by the way at a Carlton Haney John Miller, Festival in Berryville VA, at Watermelon Park in 68. A young group called The Wilsons were playing and they were merely kids. I thought If They can do it, so can I! I came home and was beatin’ out rythum for dad in two short weeks. He promised then if I stuck to it he’d buy me a D-28 Martin. Boy I’ll never forget that day as long as I live!

Soon Daddy brought home a birthday present for mom that would change everything! Yes-sir he came through the door one day with a Bass Fiddle. Well soon mom was joining in on the family fun that had become a nightly event. We started playing at the VA Hospital as a family group and having a blast!! Well my little brother Danny, soon felt the need to pick up the mandolin, now we’re havin’ fun! Soon Little sister Ramona, would start with the tambourine, later some mandolin but always singing. We had decided since there was a Hinson Family that we would be The Conrad Hinson Family, and so we were!

We played some of the major Festivals, recorded 3 projects in all, which was album format and my fvorite, the 8-track tape! On our second project The Family Circle, we had a great friend and Bluegrass super, Joe Stuart. He played fiddle on that project and became even a better friend!! I learned a lot from Brother Joe, I still miss him.

After a few years, a television show invited us to be a guest it was The Red White Show included Red White on guitar Daughters Gwen & Barbara, Mac Floyd on Banjo later Red Cribb on banjo Tommy Rodgers on fiddle with folks coming in and out like Tommy Simmons and Ethridge Hewlet on guitar and mandolin, Jennings Chestnut another life long friend of Chestnut Mandolins in Conway SC. Tiny Hammerick on bass. And several that I can’t believe I have left out! Anyway we were asked to be regulars, and eventualy got our own weekly TV show. So for the next 8 years here we went!!

After a while mom and dad got tired of the traveling and eventually gave it up.  From: Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997 02:00:40 -0500 (EST) To: Subject: Re: Interview

Thanks Art,

Well after mom and dad hung it up Danny and Ramona got involved in the home church youth program. As for me music was it! So I was asked to join The East Coast Boys on dobro, in ’79. That was Tommy Simmons Sr. on guitar Roscoe Canady on bass, Little Tommy Simmons on Mandolin, Hal Kemp on banjo.

About six or seven months after I joined, Hal left the group and I was moved to banjo. This only changed one time when the group decided to stay home some and do country music so Jerry Wright joined on drums in 82.

Febuary of 83 I met Charlie Louvin at a local club, wound up that night auditioning for him that night and was hired! Now Danny had not hardly even picked up his man-dolin during the East Coast Boys Time, but tht night I saw an opportunity to possibly put me and Danny back on the stage together again. I told Charlie he needed to hire my brother to sing the tenor part, and he said well bring him along next week to the opry, and we’ll give him a listen. I thanked him, went home and woke Danny up to share the brand new good fortune. ( To audition for Charlie that night my dad got out of bed and brought me a banjo, and one of my then dobro students dashed home and got his dobro for me to use.)

Well the next friday, here we are Nashville TN, met Charlie at the musicians union local 257, joined up then on to Charlie’s house in Hendersonville TN. That night was one of the biggest rushes in my entire life!!!! To walk on that opry stage!! To see all the goin’ ons behind stage!!! Oh this was it!!!!! I was scared stiff!! But I loved It!

Danny was hired later that night and worked the opry the next night, saturday. The next almost year wouls be a great time for renewing our brother relationship!

A year later we were offered a bad deal to open for some folks on small stages in Vegas. We moved home, pulled together a band got ready, so we thought anyway, the day we were to leave March of 84, Vegas went on strike!!!! Bummer………. One by one we watched the great little band we had assembled just dissolve before our very eyes.

One day me and Danny heard That Ronnie Milsap, Earl Thomas Conley, and Vern Gosdin were coming to town. (Wilmington, NC) well, we couldn’t even afford a bag of popcorn, much less a ticket to the concert. Now dad would have bought a ticket, but it was important for us to try to get it on our own . (at least first!!) In was sponsored by the Sherriffs’ Benevolent Society, I knew a couple of deputys at the time so I went down and met SGT Danny Long, who had heard of me and Danny playing with Charlie Louvin, and gave us some tickets to the concert!! We told him then we were going to audition for Vern Gosdin!!! (We had met Vern back stage at the opry once prior to this meeting.)

Well we finally got up with Vern’s Manager he tried to shake us, but being determined as we were, he didn’t know it but He didn’t stand a chance. we had become desperately determined!!! So Vern agreed to met us, he did not remember until later that we had met before. We stated our business about wanting to sing just one song with him, he replied, well I don’t have a guitar…to which I was bold enough to chirp up and say….who needs a guitar to sing? He half smirked, and started thinking. Later he confessed he thought of the hardest thing he could think of at the time which he had a hit goingin the Gospel Field with  Jesus Hold My Hand… He figured we would say well we don’t know that one….and he’d reply with, well too bad there was your chance. As soon as he said Jesus Hold My Hand, it was as if me and Danny knew this was it again!! Well Vern started off almost half into as he and his manager seemed to be sizing up me and Danny as Vern was getting to the chourus. Oh we JUMPED on those parts with so much inthusiasum, it almost scared us! Vern perked up about 200% smilin’ singin’ rared back let it rip!!!

Your Hired he shouted as cheerful as a kid on christmas morn. Your Hired!!!! Now wait, his manager cautioned…Vern there some things we need to work out….. Work em out these boys are hired!!!! shouted Vern again. Me and Danny were thrilled nervous excited, our mission was accomplished!!

We traveled for almost two years with Vern Gosdin and I’ll tell anyone He is a great man to work for as well as with and a good man to call friend!!!!

Vern was going through the record label blues, when me and Danny moved on, we became a part of a local club band in Hendersonville called The Bell Cove Club. Here is where we got back to some of our roots, Blusgrass. The club owner Joy Ford gave me a night to round up some bluegrass pickers and have our own night. Well we started a wed night band called The Restless Heard. consisting of Larry Cordle on guitar, Glenn Duncan on fiddle, Kenny Lewis on bass Derwin Hinson on Banjo and Danny Hinson on mandolin. Now that was fun!!!!!!!! Larry’s wife Wanda would sing a couple of songs every week and boy can she go!! We had another steady guest every week, Mr. Bill Monroe went to church 2 blocks over at Holiday Heights Baptist Church, so every wed. evening after church he would wonder on in eat a salad, and always play anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on how he was feeling!! What a thrill!!! Wed nights at the cove became a big event!! All the Greats would come by from time to time, what a time! Out of this band came Lonesome Standard Time!!!! A favorite new band!! Me and Danny worked with this band up until we moved home due to daddy illness. Our last week together with Restless Heard, happened to fall on Mr. MOnroes 50th annversary with the Opry!! He asked if we would play on the TV portion sat night!!! WOW ……of course we did it!! It was great, I will never forget that night!!

At the same time we were working the bluegrass night at the cove, For the last two years me and Danny were in Nashville we worked with The Wayne Lewis Band. Wayne Lewis on guitar, Art Stamper on fiddle, Kenny Lewis on bass, and me and Danny. This also was a special time for us, Wayne was a whole lot more than just a boss man, he was our second Daddy and our big brother at the same time! Even after we moved back home, we still went out and would met Wayne and the boys for over a year, it was another fun time!

Next the band at home……….????? I guess???? let me know Art..c ya

The band at home:

That was in 84 when we thought we were going to be Vegas Bound…. From: Date: Mon, 10 Nov 1997 22:19:42 -0500 (EST) To: Subject: Re: Interview

Hey Art,

Yes we did return home in Nov. ’89. Played very little for almost 1 and a half years. Was just dissapointed, not in our decission to return home but the lack of serious minded musicians. (Word that a little more careful, if you use it. Don’t want to hurt noone…..) It was a real big adjustment from where we had been for almost 8 years. 🙂  (Hows That!!!)

Anyway, in march of 91 we formed what we had hoped to form as soon as we got home which was The Special Edition. This consisted of Tommy Simmons on Guitar Joey Canady on Bass, Derwin and Danny Hinson. We went almost straight into the studio and recorded “Take One” and that fall did a Gospel project, “Take Time To Praise Him” and the next spring recorded “Hog Wild.”

This was a very excited Group, we had close harmonies and a blast when we were together. However just as sure as the antonym of band is disband so did we. It took almost a year and a half again to reconstruct another Special Edition.

Danny and myself picked up some work from time to time and kept the name alive. but it almost killed us. For to piece together a band in Wilmington NC was a little hard to do. (I did it again, didn’t I?) 😦

Me and Danny played from time to time with a thursday night only band called High Cotton. Mostly at Heiryonimus Brothers Seafood on Market Street in Wilmington. This kept our fingers in shape. There were a group of young men that would come out almost every week there for a while, Little did I know at the time, they were the next Special Edition.

Danny was talking about moving back to where his wife Debbie’s home town of Port- land TN. So this meant for the second time in my life there would be music without Danny. I would continue to miss him. Me and the guys practiced at least twice a week for the first six months. this group consisted of Aaron King on guitar, his bro- ther Jamie King on mandolin, and Jay Snider on electric bass. All three were students of mine, and they made me proud!! Within the first few months we were scheduled to play a New Years Eve a the boys church Calvary Baptist in Wilmington. That night changed a lot of things for all of us. Aaron and myself realized probably close to same time that gospel was our thing to do!! We talked it over the next day! The other two were to think about it and within a short time it was agreed the Special Edition would be all Gospel!

Well things were going ok, C.L. King , Jamie and Aaron’s Daddy was helping us book the group and we were getting fairly busy. One Aaron was talking to a sweet lady who told about a friend of hers who had a son that played the fiddle in Nashville TN that would be returning home soon. His name, David Farrior. I knew David before he went to Nashville 3 years prior, and knew he would be a great asset to the band. Not only is he good on every instrument, he has a great voice!! Well he came to see the band at Pine Valley Baptist Church on the sunday of the week he rolled back into town. We quickly renewed part of an old friendship that excitedly would grow again, and after the people left the building we picked, and it was good. David joined the band that week, and we were complete! We had a very good time together both on and off the stages or platforms that we were able to be invited to. David joined in Aug of ’95 and we played together until Jan ’96 . Aaron was feeling the call to preach and David wanted to get either into church music ministry or praise and didn’t know which but wanted to see where God lead him. The others in the band saw no need to con- tinue at this point, so again disbandment occupied my very existance. (Almost clev- erly written ….HUH?)

Well heart broken would be dropping your pick before you go on stage compaired to this, I was crushed. I came home that night and wrote some words…a song…but that night just words….”Lord Guide Me.” (That wound up one year exactly, same night….a year later being recorded for my second cd project “By Myself…But Never Alone!!”

The next day after the band broke up, a friend of mine, Stephen Gillham said to me Derwin, why don’t you do it all yourself? You play all the instruments, sing every part, why not? Well I did not want any part of this, I told him I liked being the side man, doing whatever part but being in the back. Well I did not have any luck finding people to form a new Special Edition. (I already had somewhat a name, t-shirts, tapes, stuff to sell ect. No luck at all. Finally Stephen who had talked to me about this idea he had, every time he saw me which was almost everyday, said look, I’ll tell ya one more time……good I interrupted……I think, he proceeded that you should check into it, think about it, and then do it! I said tell you what, tonight me and Dawn, (my wife) will pray about it. We did.   It seemed we got an answer almost immediately…….GO FOR IT!!! The next week I was supposed to work late and miss most of our in progress revival at our church. Before Monday at lunch time my schedule was changed for the whole week inableling me to attend every night of revival! Rev. Jerry Lethco was holding these services and we got our answer during this revival!! I would be the one man, High-Tech Red-Neck for The Lord!!! Yeah, I would.

In a forum (meaning Gospel Music) that accepts the use of tracks, that is where you hear a whole band but don’t see any musicians, I would carry it to a new level. God is allowing me to use 3 cd players with the tracks, (In which I am the only musician, the only voice.) and combine 5 live instruments. So, when a banjo break comes up I’m there, time for a guitar break, or a dobro break, or mandolin I get to move around alot!

So once the audience gets the idea (This is what we want to really get across!!!!!) they have a blast realizing that every sound they hear is being done by the one they see……………………me.

Art, tell me what to do next…..thanks so much!!

derwin That was in Aug of ’95, we played through the end of the year From: Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 10:52:37 -0500 (EST) To: Subject: Re: Interview

Hey Art!

No problem, about distactions, thats life these days huh?

Yes, I do play all the Live parts against the rythm parts on the tracks, and yes to the lead parts, against the harmonies already in place. It is fun!!

I am in my 17th month doing in this fashion, having a ball!! I hope to do this for many years, no headaches, no egos to deal with…….

Knowing the bluegrass crowd the way I think I do, the only hope I have to sell them on the idea is, knowing that the one they are seeing did everything they are hearing, then maybe, they will accept it, since tracks would be the only way to do that!

I hope to continue doing church services, even possibly through some bluegrass fans, going to their area to have a concert. Most of the time I am invited to have the whole service, complete through the invitation. I also do other singings, school houses, gyms, grand openings, about anything so far that a band may be called on to do. I hope to book some festivals someday, and have the first thing sunday morning, a time of songs fun things of the lord to share, testimony inserts…..a great time and something different for the sunday morning festival fan, that is what I hope to accomplish with the music I love and am so blessed to be able to do!


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