Almost a month ago, I wrote about the research we were doing to find out who has appeared at the Festival the most. With 2,510 artists and personalities appearing at the Festival, it was a daunting task going through 39 years of old program books and press releases. We did our best to make it as accurate as possible considering the not necessarily reliable sources.
But with the help of our blogging intern Lindsey, we persevered, and recently finished reviewing the data. And I’m proud to announce the winner. With 28 consecutive appearances at Fan Fair (every year from 1972 till 1999) the winner is…
Jim and Jesse McReynolds
In case you’re not familiar with the McReynold’s brothers, I’ll try to catch you up to speed. Founding Fathers in the Bluegrass world, Jim and Jesse McReynolds hail from Carfax, VA and from a very musical family. (Their grandfather Charlie McReynolds was one of the first to record for RCA during the famous Bristol Sessions in 1927.)
In 1952, Jim & Jesse debuted on their first major label, Capitol Records. They were backed by their band, The Virginia Boys, always top-notch musicians featuring various traditional acoustic instruments: guitar (Jim), mandolin (Jesse), five-string banjo, fiddle and bass. In the late ’50’s and early ’60’s, most of their live weekly radio and television shows throughout the southeast, were sponsored by Martha White Mills. They also sponsored a portion of The Grand Ole Opry, and invited Jim & Jesse as guest hosts. This led to their membership on March 2, 1964 and their move to Gallatin, TN, near Nashville, in 1964.
Their numerous honors include induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Walkway of Stars”, the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, IBMA’s Hall of Honor, and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame. They also received the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, presented by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jane Alexander at the The White House, September 23, 1997. This is our nation’s most prestigious honor in folk and traditional arts.
Unfortunately, Jim passed away after a battle with cancer on December 31, 2002, ending the longest active professional brother duet in country music history – 55 years. However, Jesse continues to carry on the family’s musical legacy. He and The Virginia Boys still tour and appear regularly on The Grand Ole Opry. Jesse is also in the process of recording a tribute album to the late Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead (how cool is that going to be?!)
Jesse and his wife, Joy, also own and operate The Pick Inn, a hilltop log cabin on 32 acres overlooking Old Hickory Lake outside of Nashville. There they host weddings, concerts, special events, and teaching workshops by Jesse himself.
If you’d like to learn more about Jim and Jesse’s legacy, Jesse’s tour schedule, or The Pick Inn, please check out www.JimandJesse.com.
Are you a Jim and Jesse fan? Do you remember seeing them perform at Fan Fair? Are you surprised by who the winner turned out to be? Who do you think is #2? (I’ll give you a hint…He’s known as “The Father of Bluegrass.”) Leave me some comment love below!