Event Details

Appalachia in the Bluegrass Traditional Music Concert Series at the Gallery of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music at the Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library, University of Kentucky in Lexington

Jimmy McCown grew up in a musical family on Pond Creek in Pike County, KY In the late 1940s the area was filled with accomplished banjo players, many of whom played the clawhammer style, a form that plays an important rhythm role in old-time music. Here he also learned to play banjo like his grandfather, Boyd Smith. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Jimmy went on to master the three-finger bluegrass banjo style. Jimmy and Ada got married and Jimmy taught Ada to play guitar.

Jimmy And Ada McCownThey had their own Bluegrass band from 1968–2003 recording 6 albums and touring the U.S. and Canada. In 1977 Jimmy added an extra string to make his banjo a 6 string banjo. “During that time,” Jimmy says, “I never lost sight of the mountain music of my childhood.” Jimmy refocused his playing on the clawhammer style. Jimmy explored some unique methods within the clawhammer style—methods he recalled from his grandfather and learned from other old-timebanjo legends—to develop his own distinguished sound. has 2 old time banjo CDs to his credit. Jimmy and Ada have also recorded a fiddle CD dedicated to masters of the old East Kentucky style.

They’ve performed at the Appalshop Banjo Days, the Carter Family Fold in Hilton’s, VA, and the Kentucky Folk Life Festival as well as the Old Songs Festival in Albany, NY, and the festival of American Fiddle Songs in Port Townsend, WA. Jimmy has been a master traditional artist in the Kentucky Arts Council, Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program.


Appalachia in the Bluegrass Concert Series


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