We can't say enough about Alonzo "Zo" Pennington. Jacob and Zo go way back, so far back that Alonzo was the first person to ever purchase a Harper Guitar and he became our first "Harper Artist". That was back in 2007 and it's been a wonderful relationship ever since.
Take a smattering of vintage Allman Brothers Band, a dash of Stevie Ray Vaughan, a spoonful of Albert King, a dollop of Jimi Hendrix and a pinch of Warren Haynes, throw them all into a big old pot and you've got Alonzo Pennington. A satisfying musical stew that’s guaranteed good for the soul!
Born Feb. 13, 1980, Alonzo has been fortunate to grow up around and learn his craft from some of the world’s best guitar players. Alonzo cut his teeth playing alongside his father, respected and renowned "thumbpicker", Eddie Pennington. Alonzo started playing the guitar at the age of 7. One of the first tunes he learned was Merle Travis' version of the Nine Pound Hammer. In the Pennington house, at any given time you could find 2-20 of the best guitarists on the planet. From Tommy Emmanuel to Grand Old Opry star Billy Grammar. Tommy once said to Alonzo in the Pennington Living room, “You’re great and the world needs to hear you!” With a background in finger style guitar, mainly "Thumbpicking", Alonzo has been recognized as one of the top players of this style. He and his father have "thumbpicked" their way across county. Alonzo still loves his thumb picking roots and performs with his father a few times throughout the year.
Alonzo (Zo) started performing almost as soon as he was learning to play. He and his little sister accompanied his father at local Rotary and other social clubs as entertainment. By the time he was 7, Zo was playing fiddle on a regular basis for and country square dance band that was loaded with talent from the best musicians in the area. Being on stage and performing seemed to come natural. Although as a kid, he enjoyed playing his father's music, he never seemed to love that style they way his father did. He wanted more. He wanted to fall in love with his own discoveries.
One day, when Zo was about 13, he discovered Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. "My whole life changed". He tells the story, that he gets off the school bus one day with his friend Austin Boaz. "Austin played a little guitar and wasn't very good at the time. He was mainly trying to be like his older brother Clayton who was the cool, hip guitar player in his early 20's at the time that played for all the parties us kids wanted to go to." Austin say's to Alonzo, "hey man, my brother just showed me this cool song on the guitar, you wanna hear it?" It was the classic Jimi Hendrix tune "Red House". A couple of days later, Austin had a CD of Stevie Ray Vaughan doing "Pride and Joy". That's when Alonzo says's, "the blues took ahold of me". From then on, most any festival where Alonzo and his father performed always had a blues act, and that's where you could find young Zo. He was always looking for a jam session, or somebody playing some kind of Muddy Waters or B.B. King.
Alonzo has played in a variety of musical circles. From playing with his father representing the "Thumbpicking" guitar style of Kentucky, to playing guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and singing backup for country music star John Michael Montgomery across the nation. Alonzo most recently represented the state of KY at the International Blues Challenge on Beale St. in Memphis TN. He made it all the way to the semi-final round of the competition in a field about 600 musicians.
Alonzo has played little backwoods country bars and bonfires, to the Grand Old Opry in Nashville TN and Beale St. in Memphis. He truly loves to play music and it has been his passion almost his whole life.
Keenly aware of the ailing economy and how it affects everyone's budget, Alonzo can work solo, as a 3-piece unit, or with the full compliment of keyboards and horns. Either option you choose, you’re guaranteed a crowd-pleasing performance!
Here are some of the accomplishments and achievements by Alonzo.
-Represented the state of KY at the International Blues Challenge on Beale St. in Memphis Tn. Out of 600 competitors, Alonzo made it all the way to the semi-finals. 2014
-International Thumbpicking Guitar Champion 1999, and 2010
-International "Open Class" Guitar Champion 1999
-National Thumbpicking Guitar Champion 1999
-Recognized as a Honorary Kentucky Colonel by Governor Steve Breshear of Kentucky. 2014
-Thumbpicking Album of the Year 2010 for the album "Thumbin".
-Recognized in conjunction with his father by the City of Princeton KY by the annual Pennington Music Festival started in 1997.
-Voted Blues Album of the Year 2014 by the River Basin Blues Society of Evansville IN for the album "Born With Nothing".
-Will be representing the River Basin Blues Society of Evansville IN in Memphis for the 2015 International Blues Challenge.
"Alonzo is one of the most talented people I have had the pleasure of working with. I can't help but pick my jaw up off the floor every time I watch him play the most difficult licks without any effort. I consider it an honor to call him my friend!" - J. Harper