© 2024. Randolph Hub. All Rights Reserved.


Hometown musician gains worldwide attention

Terry Vuncannon grew up in Asheboro, played in garage bands while in his mid-teens and started playing school dances with a band called BADGE while still in high school. 

Four decades later, he’s still going strong. He’s reached goals, worldwide acclaim, reinvented himself on an instrument that he said “haunted” him for years and today is looking into his past to brighten his prospects and extend his reach into the future.

Here’s a look back at that journey from then to present day.

Turning professional young

After graduating from Asheboro High School in 1975, he attended UNCC for one semester.

“I realized I wanted to play music (for a living),” Vuncannon said recently. “I took lessons as a kid for six months at Jerry C Rowe Music on Church Street. I figured out the opening chords of Creedence Clear Water Revival’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and then Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues.’

Terry Vuncannon plays guitar with Willie Boy Band during the 1976 Fall Festival in Asheboro. (Contributed photo)

“I was lucky to have the ability to figure it out on my own. I was a sponge. I’d watch another guitarist and it registered like a mirror in my brain.”

He left college and within three months was part of the Willie Boy Band, a touring top 40 cover band.
“Mike Rowe hired me for my first professional job. We auditioned for Hit Attractions in Charlotte. I traveled the East Coast for 4½ years. From 1976 until the ’80s, we played a night club six nights a week (Monday-Saturday), then packed up and headed for the next one. 

“It was a beautiful time for a circuit musician. I was single and the youngest in the band.”

The next few years were filled with lots of gigs as Vuncannon performed with several regional bands. 

‘I loved the recording process’

When asked his style of music, Vuncannon said he plays “music-rock, blues, beach, reggae, Southern rock. I leave it to other people to categorize it. I played in cover bands that did it all. It was a huge learning experience playing all styles of music.”

Terry Vuncannon, shown here on stage at Bicentennial Park in Asheboro, originally made his name 
playing the guitar, but in 2000 came across an instrument that ‘just captured me,’ the lap steel. 

He first recorded in Don Allred’s Duel Recording Studio in Asheboro.

“I was on the ‘Down Home in Randolph’ album,” Vuncannon said. “I was the first artist to record on that album.”

He ended up playing guitar and bass on seven or eight cuts on that CD. It was a real eye-opener for the musician.

“I found out that I loved the recording process.” 

Vuncannon started making records, gaining attention and notoriety within the musical community.
“Karen Cannon of WKXR used my song ‘KC’s Boogie’ as her theme song on the radio.”

In 1989, he started his own booking agency.

“I started booking for other bands, plus I did event planning and live PA production,” he said.

The Randolph County native was very involved in his community. He was a member of the Asheboro Chamber of Commerce, did volunteer work for the NC Zoo, was a member of the Friends of the Zoo board and planned the Zoo To Do event. He also worked as the stage manager for Relay for Life and organized Asheboro’s Fall Festival for about a dozen years. 

Dropping some names

During his professional career, Vuncannon played on cruise ships. He performed at festivals and events from New York down the East Coast to Florida. 

“A neat thing is some of the people you meet along the way, the people who are your heroes,” he said.

Backstage at events, the traveling musician and stage manager rubbed elbows with Doc and Merle Watson, Bon Jovi, Bob Margolin, Johnny Winter, Taj Mahal, Tito Jackson, Marty Stuart and Jerry Douglas, to name a few. “A highlight was playing guitar with Eric Gales, who is a modern day Jimi Hendrix at the Blues Hall of Fame benefit in Memphis.”

Vuncannon, an accomplished guitarist, has been a part of five different bands that have won NC Blues Contests to advance to compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Reinventing himself

In 2000, Vuncannon first moved to Randleman, and then ultimately settled in Greensboro. That year, he also started playing a different musical instrument, the lap steel.

Terry Vuncannon has met David Lindley, right, on several occasions. It was a Lindley performance with his lap steel that first caught Vuncannon’s ear.

“The lap steel just captured me,” he said. “In 1980, I was at a Jackson Browne concert. As I was walking through the crowd, I wondered, what wonderful sound is that? I looked up and there was a little man (David Lindley) with long hair sitting in a chair with a lap steel.”

“I was transfixed with the lap steel. It took me another 20 years to play one. It haunted me all those years. In the last seven or eight years, I made the personal decision to play all lap steel. The world didn’t need another guitar player. 

“I reinvented myself. It is one my bucket list things that worked out real good for me and I actually got to meet David Lindley on several occasions.”

Not only does he play lap steel, Vuncannon makes and sells the instrument. His brand is V-Muse lap steels. The luthier named his specially-designed instruments after his wife, Janice, who he says is his muse and his song-writing partner.

From past to future

In 2019, Vuncannon realized that he was approaching four decades of recording life. He started to compile his original music to release.

“I wanted to do something under my own name,” he said. “I feel sorry for today’s musicians. The face of the music industry has changed forever due to the music shutdown. COVID was the worst tragedy to hit the music scene in my lifetime, but I’ll look back and smile. I was ready to hit the ground running in 2000.”

The professional musician decided to release a series of singles and put out nine-song CDs and an 11-song CD, “Lap Steel Lunatic.”

“Five different songs got on regional music charts (Cash Box Magazine Blues & Beach Charts and Worldwide Direct Rock Chart).”

His originals (“Hook, Line, and Sinker,” “Make Up Another Lie,” “Juke Joint,” “Carolina Blue” and “I’m Walkin’ ”) have reached No. 1 on regional charts. “Oak Island Man” — his newest — is rising on the charts now.

New Zealand calls … literally

“Three of my songs (“Juke Joint,” “Carolina Blue” and “Oak Island Man”) reached audiences overseas,” Vuncannon said. “The last two years, a radio station in New Zealand discovered my music online.”

The station contacted Vuncannon, and on Feb 8, 2021, Galaxy 107 FM in New Zealand conducted an on-air interview with the musician. Their hour-long conversation went out to 54 countries and was on a Facebook live feed.

“My first interview had over 5 million listeners. The New Zealand station was broadcast through England and all over Europe. In the two weeks building up to the interview, they said that Terry VunCannon was the top requested artist on that station. It was quite amazing,” he said. 

Two more radio interviews from New Zealand have occurred since then, both with over 5 million tuned in. With his global recognition, Vuncannon has received radio play, sales and streaming in 164 countries around the world.

Reflecting on a lifetime of music, Vuncannon concluded.

“I want to keep playing, recording and performing live music as long as I’m able to. I’ve been very lucky in music. I feel blessed.”