R.G. Absher
R.G. Absher

R.G. Absher grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Taylorsville, North Carolina. At age 9, he began playing the guitar and added the banjo at age 12. He and his sister first began playing and singing music in the local community and with other neighborhood youth during the early 1970's. Later in college, the brother/sister duo entered and won several musical competitions. His sister, Jeannie Farlow, continues performing today, primarily in the bluegrass gospel field with the Farlow Family of Trinity, North Carolina.

R.G's musical experiences continued through college and remained primarily a recreational pass time until he began playing with Chet Atkins style guitarist, Bill Young in 1989. The late Bill Young was a retired banker and the original promoter of the Merle Fest ( Merle Watson Memorial Festival), which began in 1988 on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Bill Young stressed the key ingredients involved in performing and playing music. R.G. was impressed with his stage presence and professionalism. "EXTRA MEASURE", one of R.G.'s performing groups, was initially formed in 1992 as a tribute to Bill Young's contributions when it performed for the first time on stage at the Merle Fest.

"Bill was a tremendous motivator and coach. We used to load up his large black sedan and go all over the place to play."

Other influences, which greatly accelerated R.G.'s interest in music, included Doc Watson, who was also a close friend of Young's. Absher first heard Doc and Merle Watson perform at a club called The Pier in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1975. R.G. said the performance had a profound effect on his future direction in music. Doc's inspiration is evident on several of the tunes recorded by R.G., especially the Travis style tunes.

Absher's banjo style includes both input from traditional stylists, J.D. Crow, Bill Emerson, and Earl Scruggs as well as influences from today's contemporary banjoists. Absher primarily plays banjo and some guitar when performing with Extra Measure, but also plays a number of instruments in the Celtic style music. His first recording, "Gypsy Wagon", was released in 1996 and was a tribute to the Scotch-Irish roots in today's bluegrass and Southern Appalachian music and was featured as a solo project. Banjo and Bow, a follow-up recording, represents an ensemble sound more closely associated with today's bluegrass and traditional stringband music.