Jim Duty passes

Jim Duty, longtime Ohio fiddler and founder of the Open Highway band, died on January 22. He was 66 years of age.

Born James S. Duty, Jr, Jim was always especially drawn to bluegrass Gospel music, and wrote many new songs to add to the repertoire. In his early years Duty had the opportunity to perform with pioneers like Hylo Brown, Mack Magaha, and Mac Wiseman.

Open Highway has performed for 20 years in the central US, with a revolving cast of pickers, including Jim’s son, Jim Duty, III, on bass. They have been featured on many major bluegrass festivals like Bean Blossom, Poppy Mountain, Summersville, and Kendallville, plus Silver Dollar City and Dollywood.

Jim had recently retired from his position as a school bus driver for Teays Valley Schools in Pickaway County, OH. Driving a bus gave him the freedom to play bluegrass over the summers.

A natural entertainer, Jim will be remembered as a marvelous storyteller who could hold bandmates and picking friends’ attention if a dull moment ever occurred. H was a great asset to his local bluegrass community.

His original song, Gonna Have A Yard Sale, has been played by bluegrass artists all over the world.

Here’s a video of Jim with Open Highway singing a song that he had written, Daddy’s Fiddle, about his own father.

But mostly he is recalled as a devout Christian, a devoted family man, and a lover of all things bluegrass.

Funeral services for Jim Duty were held on January 28 at the Heritage Free Will Baptist Church in Columbus, OH.

R.I.P., Jim Duty.

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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.