Then and Now: Jim & Jesse

Jim and Jesse are one of the most iconic of bluegrass’s first generation of pickers. The McReynolds brothers had a sound that was all their own, featuring Jim’s high tenor and Jesse’s distinctive cross-picking mandolin style. But how does their vast repertoire translate into modern bluegrass? Just ask Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, Tom Adams, Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, and other great artists who have recorded their own takes on Jim and Jesse’s greatest hits. Enjoy this playlist featuring Jim and Jesse: then and now!

David Chernack

David Chernack is a fiddler, mandolinist, and guitarist from the Hudson Valley. Trained as a classical violist, David found out about bluegrass music in high school and despite his best efforts has been unable to kick the habit in adulthood. He picked up mandolin and guitar in college in Boston, where he studied environmental science and music. While not at his day job or pickin' 'grass, David also enjoys birdwatching and wrenching on cars.

2 Responses

  • J&J contributed to the early bluegrass jammers’ list of good songs to learn. Are You Missing Me, Bluebonnet Lane, Standing on the Mountain, Old Slewfoot, etc. Of course Jesse’s unique mandolin style really challenged young pickers. They always had excellent fiddlers like Jim Buchanan, Vassar Clements, Joe Meadows and Jimmy Campbell in the band. They carried fine banjoists like the great Allen Shelton, the under-appreciated Bobby Thompson (co-developed of “melodic/chromatic” style), and in later years Mike Scott and Raymond McLain. They were always personable, high-class, well-dressed and professional. They were SOLID members of the Opry.

    For awhile they were sponsored by Martha White Flour, just like Flatt & Scruggs and Hylo Brown.

    I’m not sure how much they influenced young pickers with their Chuck Berry LP, and some of their countryfied trucker songs, but all in all they made a huge contribution to the spread of bluegrass in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

    They appeared many times on PBS television with the Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Mac Wiseman, Jim & Jesse “Bluegrass All Stars” jamborees and on Austin City Limits.

    I’m glad you chose to feature them David.

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