Remaining Jim & Jesse Partner a Master of Bluegrass, Other Musical Forms
Nashville - Grand Ole Opry star
Jesse McReynolds has spent the seven months since his brother
Jim's death solidifying the Jim & Jesse bluegrass legacy
while striking out in new musical directions. Originator
of the "cross-picking" style of mandolin playing,
McReynolds has demonstrated himself to be one of the most
innovative and prolific players in popular music.
McReynolds completed Tis Sweet To
Be Remembered, a collection that turned out to be Jim &
Jesse's last album, earlier this year. He has since featured
selections from the album in his road show, a program that
now blends classic bluegrass with elements of western swing
and traditional country music. In addition, he has built
a new edition of his backup band, the Virginia Boys, recorded
an instrumental album with fiddle wizard Travis Wetzel and
written, recorded and released the alarm-sounding single,
"America On Bended Knees." On July 5, McReynolds
and his band performed by invitation at the Smithsonian
Institution's Folklife Festival in Washington, D. C.
Serving as his own producer, McReynolds
is in the final stages of recording his first solo album
for Pinecastle Records. It will contain such gems
as "New Partner Waltz," a Louvin Brothers
classic that pairs McReynolds vocally with Charles Whitstein;
two Dan Seals compositions, "Showboat Gambler"
and "I Won't Be Blue Anymore"; new versions
of "Faded Love" and "In The Pines"
that feature ace fiddler Bobby Hicks; and a cover of the
"Death Row Lament" made famous by Hank
Williams, "My Main Trial Is Yet To Come."
McReynolds wrote "The Anniversary Song"
especially for this album. He hopes to release it as a single
and tie it in with a wedding-anniversary card promotion.
The McReynolds/Wetzel album, tentatively
titled Bending The Rules, will be issued on OMS
Records. The release date has yet to be set. In addition
to boasting white-hot versions of such pop and jazz standards
as "Sweet Georgia Brown," "El Cumbanchero,"
"Limehouse Blues" and "Alabama
Jubilee," it also offers the McReynolds originals
"Witch Grass," "Blowing Up A Storm,"
"Waltz Of Joy," "Bending The Rules,"
"Night Runner" and "Okechobee Wind."
Jesse McReynolds' current band is
comprised of Charles Whitstein (guitar, vocals), Luke McKnight
(mandolin, vocals), Bobby Hicks (fiddle), Daniel Grindstaff
(banjo), Kent Blanton (bass) and Donnie Catron (guitar,
Both as a soloist and as a member
of Jim & Jesse, Jesse McReynolds has been adventurous,
even as he set new standards for bluegrass. Jim & Jesse
first made waves in 1965 with their Berry Pickin' In The
Country, an album of Chuck Berry songs produced by the legendary
Billy Sherrill (Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Charlie Rich)
and for which Berry himself did the liner notes. The duo
regularly made the country charts from the '60s through
the '80s, with such tunes as "Better Times A-Coming,"
"Diesel On My Tail," "Ballad Of
Thunder Road," "Freight Train,"
"North Wind" and "Oh Louisiana."
The brothers became members of the Grand Ole Opry in 1964
and were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music
Assn.'s Hall of Honor in 1993.
In 1969, The Doors' Jim Morrison
picked McReynolds to play mandolin on The Soft Parade.
Working with banjoist Eddie Adcock, fiddler Kenny Baker
and dobroist Josh Graves, McReynolds recorded and toured
in the late '80s and early '90s as part of the supergroup
Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia
Boys are booked by: J&J Music, P. O. Box 1385, Gallatin,
TN 37066, Ph: 615 452-7321, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.