Bio

Jimmy found music at a very early age. One of his earliest memories is holding a guitar and turning around in the living room and saying, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash." At the time he really didn't know who Cash was, but he would learn in time...

He got the bug to start playing guitar in his early teens, so his dad bought him a cheap electric guitar and amp at an auction. Like all kids his age, Jimmy would express interest in something and would eventually lose that interest, but not this time. He was hooked and needed something better to learn on, so his dad and uncle went to the local music store to find something suitable. They landed on an electric-acoustic Alvarez and a solid body Gretsch. The former would suit him both acoustically and for the times he would need to plug in. The latter was referred to by his uncle as a "hot guitar."

Jimmy took lessons from a lady in the nearby town of Alamo. After several weeks he was discouraged when she informed him, "there's no need in you coming back - I can't teach you any more." Heartbroken, he asked her if she he had any hope at all of him ever learning the instrument. She replied, "no, you misunderstood - I can't teach you anymore. You have done so well that you've learned all I can teach you and you've done it in a very short time. Now you need to explore your own abilities and see where it takes you."

First it took him back home, where he would spend many an hour playing along with Johnny Cash records and learning all the licks that Luther Perkins could teach him via vinyl. Then he started jamming with a neighbor for hours at a time. His talent was soon discovered at church, where he began playing for the youth group to sing to on Wednesday nights and the occasional Sunday morning special music.

The young lady in charge of the youth had some experience playing "out" at places, and she gave Jimmy the opportunity for his first public performance. Local talent Hee Haw shows were very popular in the 80's and there was one at Gadsden, Tennessee. Cindy sang a Rosanne Cash song and Jimmy played "lead strumming" on his Gretsch and picked the basic lead "turnaround." Nervous, yes, but a thrill he would never forget.

He went on to play with a local Bluegrass group (The Anderson Family - no relation) and learned more and more about fills, picking rhythm, stage attitude - all of it. He played in an even larger Hee Haw show in Dyersburg and learned what it was like to stand and play in front of HUNDREDS of people. Needless to say he was hooked...

A few years later he was back on his own just picking and grinning and jamming and playing at church. He heard about a new, even bigger, production of Hee Haw at Dyersburg State Community College and he went to audition. Not considering himself a singer, he wasn't sure how it would go, but the director pulled him aside and suggested that he get a bluegrass act up with some other guys that he happened to know.

Next thing you know, Jimmy is meeting the director's son and his friend. The former played a "straight rhythm" (perfect for backing up Jimmy's picking rhythm style) and the latter played bass. There was a new banjo picker in town that had not settled with a group yet so they pulled him in. Being from the hills of East Tennessee, he brought even more bluegrass background with him and The Bare Basics was born.

They played several shows locally and had a good following for a few years until Mark (banjo) moved back to Knoxville and Kerry (bass) moved to Memphis, thus ending another chapter in Jimmy's musical career. He went on to continue to learn as much as he could and to continue jamming, but wouldn't officially join another group for several years...

One night he was at a church service with The Barnett Family (from Stanton, Tennessee) and the invitation was Jesus Use Me. Jimmy prayed that prayer, not knowing where God would send him. What God had done was to use the years of music as preparation for the next step on his journey. Gospel Music was the farthest thing from his mind when he prayed that prayer, but God told him He wanted Jimmy to enter that ministry. 

Jimmy didn't answer the call immediately, but instead kept asking God if He was sure. Jimmy was working with a local man who had retired from a local quartet, so he asked for this man's advice. It just so happened that the gentleman was working with a local group to help them get started. He offered to introduce Jimmy to the group and he immediately became a regular for Harold Joyce. 

Jimmy never really felt that God was leading him to be there full time, but he felt that it was the right place at the time, so he learned as much as he could and met even more people in the ministry. He auditioned for a group called New Heaven's Echos after their guitar player retired. He was an instant fit and would stay for more than seven years, eventually adding lead guitar, mandolin and the occasional bass. He met the owner of Silver Tree Recording in Alamo, Bobby Jones, when the group cut their next album. This led to a new friendship and the opportunity for Jimmy to sit in on several sessions for others as well.

Jimmy was very busy during that time. When the Echos didn't have a singing, he and his wife Vanessa would travel with the Dill Family, the Barnett Family or Bobby's two groups - the Jones Family and the Gospel Edition. He was serving the Lord and gaining immeasurable musical experience.

When his two sons were getting old enough for school, he felt God telling him to leave the road. It was at that same time that Jimmy's pastor came to him to ask about leading the music service at his home church. Seeing it as a sign that God was directing the change, he accepted the position.

He spent several years with music as a background hobby, but not an active pursuit. Now he's in his forties and his kids are grown. He and Vanessa still enjoying singing the church hymns and the occasional special music but he is also pursuing the dream again. He returned to his bluegrass roots in local jams and joined a country band called NashVegas. He spent almost a year playing bass guitar and providing lead vocals for two-steppers and line dancers. For a good while, Saturdays and Sundays found them once again on the bus with The Barnett Family. Jimmy would help with setup and tear down and provided rhythm guitar in his same inimitable "picking rhythm."  Vanessa's sweet voice was also featured on a song or two. 

Now he's back to working solo as a singer songwriter. When asked what his style of music is, he replies, "old school country, but it's not a copy of anything." He attributes a part of his style to something Don Schlitz told him, "write what you want to hear, not what you think others want to hear. Write it first for yourself. It will come from the heart and face it, you may be the only person that ever hears a lot of it!"

He has been a part of the Texaco Country Showdown competition as well as a featured performer at the weekly open mic in Jackson before it closed down. He has since branched out to the Nashville area where you will find him dropping into Pucketts Grocery or the Bluebird for open mic. When he is in the area you will find him performing "in the round" at Commodore Grille. He has recently completed a CD project of ten original songs. The Album is called Homegrown.

He also continues to sit in with various bands around the area when he's not booked for a solo gig. For a while he was filling in on lead guitar for Midnight Rangers in Cayce, Kentucky and is now a regular bass player and vocalist for Pure Country - a dance band entertaining in the Henderson/Finger areas in Southwest Tennessee.

With more than 30 years of musical experience under his belt, he's come a long way down that road that others only dream about. When asked if he thinks he'll ever be successful, he smiles and says, "I already am. I'm making music and writing songs and making people smile on a regular basis. I'm living the dream!"