Jesse Lester McReynolds, mandolin player extraordinaire, celebrates his 80th birthday today (7/9/09).
Born in Coburn, Virginia, McReynolds, known for his innovative cross-picking and split-string styles of playing the mandolin, partnered his late brother, Jim, in the pioneering bluegrass band Jim and Jesse & the Virginia Boys, formed in 1947.
For the next 55 years the duo performed their original style of bluegrass music around the world, employing a number of equally innovative musicians and recording extensively. They were members of the Grand Ole Opry for over three decades and Jesse continues to perform regularly on that august stage.
In 1993 they were inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame and, in 1997, Jesse and Jim were presented with our nation’s highest honour in the folk and traditional arts, the National Heritage Fellowship Award. Jesse is a multiple Grammy nominee and award winner.
McReynolds is the co-winner of the IBMA Instrumental Recording, Mandolin Extravaganza and was nominated in 2005 for IBMA Instrumental Recording of the Year for his stellar collection of mostly original songs, Bending the Rules.
As well as being noted for his exceptional mandolin playing, Jesse McReynolds is a gifted songwriter and arranger, whose singing is immediately identifiable.
This year marks McReynolds’s 62nd anniversary in music, with his birthday celebrated at a festival in his honour on July 10 and 11 at his Pick Inn Music Park in Gallatin, Tennessee.
Here’s a classic clip of Jim & Jesse from 1976.
Happy Birthday Jesse!