Jim McCown passes

Jim McCown, noted bluegrass banjo player, audio engineer, and old time fiddler, passed away suddenly on October 7 in Hardy, KY. He was 80 years of age.

Bluegrass audiences first came to know Jim in the early 1970s through the band he formed with his wife, Ada, called Outdoor Plumbing Company. Other founding members included Ada’s brother, Marshall Scott, and Jerry Williamson, father of Williamson Branch’s Kevin Williamson.

The band recorded for Rebel Records, and were quite popular on the bluegrass festival circuit during their day, providing a fun style of then-contemporary music. During that period, Outdoor Plumbing Company was also known for providing quality sound reinforcement, another passion of Jim and Jerry’s.

After the band dissolved, JIm and Ada started a family group that also included their two sons, Dan and Andy.

Over the years, Jim became more and more fascinated with old time music, and became quite proficient in that style of banjo. He also launched a study of old time fiddle music that he pursued for the rest of his life. He and Ada often performed together around they home in Kentucky.

Any sort of old time of bluegrass jam would find McCown in attendance, where he had many great friends and admirers. He was known as a strong encourager of young musicians, offering tips and accompaniment whenever the opportunity arose.

He will be greatly missed by his large family, which extends to grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as friends he made as a pilot and aircraft mechanic. Jim will also be remembered for his collection of vintage instruments, and his devotion to finding and learning about them.

The family will receive friends at the Belfry Freewill Baptist Church in Huddy, KY on Sunday, October 11 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. (EDT).

R.I.P., Jim McCown.

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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.