Jimmy McCown grew up in a musical family on Pond Creek in Pike County, KY In the late 1940s the area was filled with accomplished banjo players, many of whom played the clawhammer style, a form that plays an important rhythm role in old-time music. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Jimmy went on to master the three-finger bluegrass banjo style. Jimmy and Ada married and Jimmy taught Ada to play guitar. They had their own Bluegrass band from 1968 – 2003 recording 6 albums and touring the U.S. and Canada. In 1977 Jimmy added an extra to make his banjo a 6 string banjo. where he learned to play banjo from his grandfather, Boyd Smith.
“During that time,” Jimmy says, “I never lost sight of the mountain music of my childhood.” Jimmy refocused his playing on the clawhammer style. Jimmy explored some unique methods within the clawhammer style—methods he recalled from his grandfather and learned from other old-time banjo legends—to develop his own distinguished sound.
He has been a master traditional artist in the Kentucky Arts Council, Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program.