Jason Burleson grew up in Avery County in a musical family and community. “Three of my grandparents played oldtime two-finger banjo,” he says. He also had uncles and cousins who played. In addition, neighbor musicians Jim and Jennie Vance owned a nearby music park and hosted numerous bluegrass bands. “There were a lot of places around here to hear good music,” he says.
Jason began playing at the age of eleven when his father, a fan of Flatt and Scruggs, asked if he’d like to learn to play the banjo. Jason was immediately enthralled, and his cousin Jeeter Griffith showed him some basic rolls and a few tunes to get him started. It was not long before Jason was playing banjo in a local bluegrass band, Bluegrass Tradition, with Herb Greene and Herman Coffey. Jason was about twelve or thirteen at the time. “That really helped,” he says. “It’s good to get thrown into a situation.” Jason also learned to play guitar, and he played in a group featuring Perry Woodie in the late 1980s.
His professional career as a musician started when he worked for a few years at Tweetsie Railroad playing in the house band. He has not stopped performing since then. “I’ve just been lucky,” he says. But it is musicianship that has propelled Jason’s career. He is a master on the banjo and guitar, and he plays mandolin and bass as well. Jason has been playing with nationally-acclaimed bluegrass band, Blue Highway since 1994, and the band keeps him busy performing fulltime.
Jason has had the opportunity to play with a number of his musical idols, including Tony Rice, Sam Bush, and Stuart Duncan. With Blue Highway, he has performed at festivals and venues all over the country, including the Grammy Award presentations where the group has appeared twice as nominees. The band’s website describes Jason as a talented multi-instrumentalist who “brings all-around musicianship to the group, not the least of which is his distinctive, rock-solid banjo style. Jason also anchors the group’s quartets with his growling bass. A jazz devotee, Jason’s talent hasn’t been fully revealed yet to the bluegrass community and gives Blue Highway unlimited options for the future.”
Jason is available for performances with Blue Highway.