Making a Difference: Bridging the Gap
Arthur Hancock's musical forays bring bluegrass music to new fans.
There are a lot of things that come naturally in the Hancock family. Horses, for one. Their Bourbon County farm, Stone Farm, with its windswept vistas and bountiful pastures, has been home to three Derby winners.
And while the Hancock name has been synonymous with racehorses for generations, a new tradition – bluegrass music – has played a pivotal role in the life of Arthur Hancock IV.
“I was always messing with it,” Hancock said. “It was my big passion.” Until recently, Hancock was a member of The Wooks, a band that mixes traditional bluegrass with elements of rock and jam-band sound.
Hancock’s passion for bluegrass music was nurtured by his father, who has, among other musical endeavors, recorded an album with J.D. Crowe.
KET also played a role in fueling the elder Hancock and his son’s passion for bluegrass – they are devoted fans of KET’s Jubilee, a long-running series that featured some of the best in bluegrass, blues, and other traditional American music.
“We would sit in the living room when Jubilee was on — it’s a pretty great way to brighten up your winter. And we used to play along as it was airing. That’s a good way to learn, listen and watch people’s hands,” he said. “He’ll message me, still, when there’s a good group on,” Hancock said about his father.
While living in Nashville during college, Hancock took advantage of living in country music’s mecca. He took banjo lessons from renowned musician Alison Brown — a banjo player often compared to Bela Fleck — and spent afternoons after class playing with Joe Andrews, now a member of Old Crowe Medicine Show.
After recording and touring as a singer and guitarist with The Wooks since 2017, Hancock hopes that bluegrass music continues to develop a new generation of fans.
“Traditionally, bluegrass music is a gray-haired genre, but I think, played with the right intention, it’s for a youthful audience,” Hancock said. “It’s a new style of bluegrass. I hope maybe even we’re inspiring some younger kids to play.”