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Jim & Jesse: A Rich Heritage for New Generations

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These two senior brothers have been true legends of bluegrass’ musical history. Born and raised in Virginia, Jim and Jesse adapted their musical style as the requirements of the new generations requested. Jim was born in 1927 and Jesse on July 9, 1929. Their duet was very well known because of their particular handling of the musical instruments; while Jim played the guitar, Jesse was on mandolin.

They came from a musical family; their grandfather was a fiddler and had a single record with a band called Bull Mountain Moonshiners. They started to be recognized locally because they usually performed in dances and festivals. Their career as professionals started at their early twenties, when Jim quit the army. During the next years, they performed on radio stations and in 1951 they moved to Ohio and met Larry Roll; next to him they formed a trio called “Virginian Trio” but they were not very successful.

They continued playing at different radio stations; however, Jesse had to join the army to fight in the Korean War. By 1954, he came back to the stage and joined his brother again for the rest of that decade and they continued performing in radio stations and television broadcasts.

They have been granted several honors, such as the “American Heritage Artists to Shout About” from the Washington Post; a letter from the President Bill Clinton, in which he names Jim and Jesse National Heritage Fellows, and the National Endowment for the Arts from Washington DC. Besides that, Jesse was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1993.

Both brothers have been through good experiences and bad ones; they both were diagnosed with cancer in the year 2002. But Jim was not able to overcome this disease and unfortunately he passed away on December 31, 2002. But still their music continues influencing new generations and they will always be in the hearts of bluegrass lovers.

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