Rural Rhythm to distribute Jim & Jesse Old Dominion albums

At the instigation of Jesse McReynolds, Rural Rhythm Records has entered into an agreement with the bluegrass veteran whereby the label will re-release the Jim & Jesse Old Dominion albums in both physical and digital formats.

Rural Rhythm Records will be making an announcement shortly regarding the first title to be released in early 2014, which also marks the 50th anniversary of Jim & Jesse becoming members of the Grand Ole Opry.

Sam Passamano, IInd, President of Rural Rhythm Records, is excited by the arrangement …….

“Rural Rhythm has continued to help keep the flame burning for traditional bluegrass by releasing a steady flow of traditional bluegrass music from a huge master library dating back to 1955 and marketed under the Sound Traditions and Heritage Collection series names. We are very excited to exclusively distribute the Jim & Jesse Old Dominion masters and honored that Jesse McReynolds has asked us to reactivate these masters that were recorded many years ago in the later years of Jim & Jesse recording history.”

Jesse McReynolds is equally enthused about the new distribution relationship with Rural Rhythm Records ……………..

Jesse McReynolds and Sam Passamano“Since our first recording in 1952, we have had the pleasure of working with a lot of wonderful people in the record world. And now, years later, I’m glad to be associated with Rural Rhythm Records. I had heard so many great things about Sam Passamano and his people at Rural Rhythm, and his passion to keep promoting traditional music and the artists who make it. And I must say that after meeting and getting to know him and his family, it is an honor and pleasure to get to work with them all, and may our relationship be a long and happy one.”

Jim, the older brother, and Jesse, from Carfax, near Coeburn, Virginia, released their first album on the Old Dominion Records label in 1972 with The Jim & Jesse Show (OD 498-04).

That was followed by other studio LPs; Superior Sounds Of Bluegrass (OD 498-05, released in 1974); Jesus Is The Key to the Kingdom (OD 498-06, 1975); Songs About Our Country (OD 498-08, 1976); Palace Of Song (OD 498-09, 1977); Songs of Inspiration (OD 498-12, 1978); and CDs I Like The Old Time Way (OD 498-15, 1995); From the Heart (OD 498-16, 1996) and A Gift for Keith (OD 498-17, 1997).

In addition they released Jim & Jesse Show Live In Japan (OD 498-07) and Radio Shows (OD 498-10, 1978), and re-released, in CD format, The Virginia Trio 1951 : Their First Historical Gospel Recordings, with Larry Roll making up the third part, (OD 498-18, 2000).

As well as having albums on the Old Dominion label, they recorded for Capitol Records, Columbia, Epic, Opryland, CMH, Rounder and Pinecastle Records.

Jim and Jesse McReynolds grew up in a family steeped in traditional mountain music. Their harmony was exceptional, a rarity some say that only brothers can produce. Jim’s enhanced high tenor combined with Jesse’s deep lead and unique mandolin style set this duo apart in the world of bluegrass music.

Very early in their career, Jesse developed a ‘McReynolds style’ technique on the mandolin, combining his invention of cross-picking and split-string playing, which distinguished his picking from others. Many have imitated, but few have successfully mastered his unique style of the fast execution of intricate melodic patterns.

Backed by their band, The Virginia Boys, always top-notch side-men, including a who’s who of famous musicians such as fiddler greats Vassar Clements, Jimmy Buchanan, Glen Duncan and Randall Franks; banjo aces Allen Shelton and Carl Jackson; and Jesse’s oldest son, the late Keith McReynolds (on bass), and many more.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Jim and Jesse starred on the live radio show, the Suwannee River Jamboree, broadcast on Saturday nights from Live Oak, Florida, on WNER radio. The show was also syndicated throughout the south-eastern United States. The brothers replaced the Stanley Brothers on the show and they left when Martha White began using the duo as a sponsor.

On March 2, 1964, they were invited to join the Grand Ole Opry after having made several guest appearances and they moved to Gallatin, Tennessee, later that year.

Their numerous honours include induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Walkway of Stars, the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Honor and the Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Individually and collectively they were nominated for several Grammy awards.

They also received the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, presented by Hillary Clinton and Jane Alexander at The White House on September 23, 1997.

In 2002 both brothers were diagnosed with different types of cancer. Jesse’s battle was successful; Jim’s was not and he passed away on December 31, 2002, ending the longest active professional brother duet in country music history – spanning 55 years.

During their career they had toured all 50 states, with the exception of Alaska, and have travelled worldwide including playing in Canada, Mexico, Japan, the British Isles and mainland Europe, and in 1985 Africa, for the U.S. State Department.

Jesse has continued the Jim & Jesse tradition and has since gone on to play throughout the world.

The beautiful music that was originated by the brothers in the mountains of southwest Virginia back in 1947 is as timeless as ever.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.