Jesse McReynolds, Still Going Strong After 68 Years In Bluegrass

JESSE-leadJesse McReynolds
Still Going Strong After 68 Years In Bluegrass
By Bill Conger 

IBMA Hall Of Famer Jesse McReynolds certainly has nothing to prove after devoting 68 years to bluegrass music. He easily could have decided to retire from the business and rested on his accomplishments as one half of the famous bluegrass duo Jim & Jesse. Instead, the 86-year-old performer still has a passion for music.

“I’ve still got a lot to learn,” McReynolds said from his Pick Inn in Gallatin, Tenn. He had returned earlier that Sunday from the World Of Bluegrass in rain-soaked Raleigh, N.C. “I hear these young new pickers play and I think, ‘God, where are they coming from?’ Their talent is amazing.

“I still experiment,” he said. “I’ll hear something sometimes out of the clear blue sky that’ll make a nice instrumental. I’ll jump in and do it. Sometimes I’ll get up and I can’t wait to get through eating to get to my mandolin to start saying, ‘What did I think about last night?’” Unfortunately, he says, the normal effects of aging are slowing his reflexes and therefore the speed of his playing. “I try to do things that I can handle. I listen to things I did twenty and thirty years ago. Gosh, I could play fast! I could play like a banjo player with a straight pick. As you get older, it don’t work as good as it used to.”

Despite a minor health issue in 2014, the octogenarian still hits the road for festivals, makes guest appearances at gigs such as the Station Inn with Carl Jackson and friends, and regularly performs at the Grand Ole Opry. (This year, he celebrated his 51st year as a member.) Read entire article »

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