Watauga Lake sailing, Tennessee

"Appalachia to Zimbabwe" rhythm students in the mountains of South Carolina

As a young man, Ras Alan left his guitar shop and coffee house in the mountains of North Carolina and moved to Nashville, TN. To learn more about the guitars, mandolins and other stringed instruments he had played, repaired and tinkered with for years, he apprenticed with master luthiers that would later run the Fender and Guild guitar custom shops. He spent hours hanging around the repair shops of George Gruhn and Randy Wood. Decades of designing, engineering and building craftsman solar homes and award-winning historic building restorations combined easily with years of composing, recording and performing his original songs all over the United States, Central America and the Caribbean. Ras Alan uses traditional woodworking techniques of the past and applies the best modern musical instrument innovations. His Childres guitars are each hand made in his shop in the hardwood forests of southern Appalachia, and each ringing note carries a lifetime full of experience, music and love. Click the “Childres Guitars” tab at the top of this page to see photos of his building process and finished instruments. The “MoonShine Polish” hand rubbed finish lets the guitar breathe… no plastics or sprayed finishes are used on these instruments. Don’t panic. Organic!

Ras Alan’s original songs chart the reggabilly journey of a rural mountain guitar player… from an apple barn country dub party, to a two night run in summertime Las Vegas; from the dance floor at the iconic Carter Fold  in Hiltons, Virginia, to the dirt stage under the trees at the Rough House  in Jamaica; from crewing on the hand-built, Gdansk, Poland-based sailboat Bagheera  off the Caribbean islands of Antigua, Dominica and St. Lucia, to singing songs about dreadnecks at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival  in Washington DC. Ras Alan told his stories in the amphitheater of the Blue Ridge Music Center  in fabled Galax, Virginia, discussed ital (vital, healthy) food with Jamaican reggae legend Neville Livingston, or Bunny Wailer, in the North Carolina foothills, played Beethoven with mandolin innovator Frank Wakefield in California and drummed with Nigerian Babatunde Olatunje by the fire. Ras Alan was featured on Country Music Television’s Small Town Secrets  along with Wayne Henderson and Jim Lauderdale, showcasing Bristol TN/VA, the “Birthplace of Country Music”, and the various branches of those musical roots. He picked informally with American musical icons Doc Watson and Jethro Burns, and sang on the porch of The Highlander Center , an Appalachian catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building for Rosa Parks, Pete Seeger and Martin Luther King. Ras Alan shared peaches with French gypsy violinist Stephane Grapelli at The Great American Music Hall  in San Francisco, and played music and shared a tea ceremony with Africa’s “Father of the Blues”, Malian master musician Ali Farke Toure. He performed with Senegalese sabar drummer Katabe Cissoko at Tuff Gong's release party for Bob Marley's Talking Blues  album in White River Junction, Jamaica and was a featured keynote speaker at the Appalachian Research Symposium and Arts Showcase  at the University of Kentucky. “We invited Ras Alan because his work challenges and invites us to think about Appalachia in a global context” said Ann Kingsolver, director of the UK Appalachian Center.

Ras Alan @ Ruseas High School, Lucea, JAmaica