Catching up with Jim Mills

I had a chance to catch up last week with banjo monster Jim Mills, and was immediately curious about what he has been doing since leaving Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder last summer.

Jim said that he has been enjoying the ability to spend some time teaching at workshops around the country, and dedicating himself almost wholly to his prewar banjo business. Even during his time with Skaggs, Jim had been researching, buying and selling vintage banjos, both highly collectible original prewars, and modified or converted models. That research led to the publication of a Mills-authored book on the subject, Gibson Mastertone: Flathead 5-String Banjos of the 1930’s and 1940’s, in 2009

He has built a showroom in his Raleigh, NC home where he welcomes visitors who are interested in a vintage banjo purchase.

Merging both of these new opportunities, Jim has embarked upon a series of workshops to specifically address pickers’ interest in prewar Gibson banjos.

The next will be held on April 9, where 15 banjo aficionados will have have the chance to spend some hands-on time with Mills’ legendary collection of valuable banjos. These will include Snuffy Jenkins’ RB-4, thePosie Roach and Bill Worrell RB-75s, and the Mack Crow custom, gold-plated RB-75 that is the model for Jim’s signature model Huber banjo.

Registration for the all-day event is $195. Full details can be found online.

I also asked Jim about when a new banjo CD might be in the offing, and he said that this has been on his mind a good bit these days. He wouldn’t give a date, but suggested that this could happen before much longer.

Mills said that he plans to do some shows this summer with Vince Gill, so keep on eye on Vince’s schedule for more on that.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.