Devin and Brendan McEnnerney carry on a family tradition performing, recording, and promoting their music. Their mother is a classical musician and composer who is also interested in traditional music. Their uncles all play music, and they have made music and their work with the arts a full-time career.
Devin and Brendan’s grandfather George Watson, a guitar player, has been especially influential. “He’s the reason I started playing guitar,” Devin says. “Papaw always has lots of instruments at his house – guitar, fiddle, bass, mandolin – and he kept encouraging us to play, in a nice way.” Devin resisted learning to play until he was a teenager, when his grandfather showed him some chords to get him started. “He really is the one that taught me to play the guitar and mandolin,” says Devin. “I would just play rhythm with him on the traditional songs, and country songs, and western songs.”
Devin also learned from other Rutherford County musicians, such as Les Beale, who taught him some blues guitar, and later from Colonel Gene Wyatt, a legendary guitar player from Spartanberg, South Carolina. Wyatt helped teach Devin how to expand his knowledge of guitar playing, including scales, modes, and the jazzier contributions from western swing, based on a foundation of traditional music. “Colonel Gene knew all the traditional stuff, but he also knew more about jazz and western swing,” Devin says. “I found out later that people like Doc Watson started with traditional songs and incorporated things they heard from the radio. Colonel Gene taught me all this jazz stuff, but he taught me how to use it in the context of the traditional songs.”
After expanding their styles and skills, Devin and Brendan relearned songs from their grandfather. They had made several home recordings of their grandfather to document his repertoire, and in 2006, they accompanied George Watson and produced a CD of his music. The brothers also play and tour with the Dowden Sisters, with Devin on bass and Brendan on guitar, mandolin, and banjo.
Devin and Brendan McEnnerney are available for performances with various musical groups, including with their grandfather George Watson, with the Dowden Sisters, or as a duet. They are also available for private lessons.