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Jim Eanes

Though never considered a major star, Smilin' Jim Eanes was an influential figure in both bluegrass and country music for over five decades. He was born Homer Robert Eanes, Jr. in Mountain Valley, Virginia and received his first guitar at age nine from his banjo-picking father. Eanes suffered an injury to his left hand; despite the difficulty and pain, he still managed to master rhythm guitar. He spent his early teen years playing square dances with his father's informal string band, and at age 16 joined Roy Hall's Blue Ridge Entertainers at a Roanoke radio station, and remained with the band until Hall died in 1943. Following World War II, Eanes joined Uncle Joe & the Blue Mountain Boys. He also worked briefly with Bill Monroe in 1948.

Eanes made his recording debut in 1949 under his given name, backed by fiddler Homer Sherrill and banjo player Snuffy Jenkins. He organized the Shenandoah Valley Boys in 1951 after getting a radio gig in Virginia; the band cut a few singles on the tiny Blue Ridge label before signing with Decca. Until then, Eanes' music was heavily slanted toward bluegrass, but Decca groomed him to play country music. The singles he released sold well enough, but they didn't make the charts. His contract with Decca expired in 1955 and Eanes, by then billing the band "Smilin' Jim & His Boys," began recording with Starday. His debut single, "Your Old Standby," became one of his signature songs. Over the next five years, he and the Shenandoah Valley Boys recorded albums on both Starday and Blue Ridge. Eanes wrote many of his own songs, and one of his best from this period was "I Wouldn't Change You If I Could," which became a number one hit for Ricky Skaggs in 1982.

During the '60s, Eanes worked as a deejay on different Virginia radio stations; he also occasionally performed and recorded songs on small independent labels. He recorded his first bluegrass album, Your Old Standby, in 1967. His next two albums, Jim Eanes and Rural Rhythms Present Jim Eanes, featured backing by Red Smiley & the Bluegrass Cut-Ups. Smiley and his band appeared regularly on WWVA's Wheeling Jamboree and when Red decided to retire, Eanes took over the band and renamed it the Shenandoah Cutups. The band cut an album in 1970 and shortly after broke up.

Eanes began hosting festivals and recording bluegrass albums for smaller labels; among them was the excellent Cool Waters Flow. His heavy touring schedule was interrupted in 1978 when he suffered a heart attack. He recovered by the next year and launched a tour of Western Europe, which he repeated in 1980 and 1982; while visiting Belgium, he cut an album with a local band, Smoketown Strut. During the rest of the '80s, he cut back on his touring but continued recording. In 1990, he celebrated his five decades in the industry with the album 50th Anniversary. ~ Sandra Brennan
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: 25 Hymns From The Old Country Church: Power Picks

2. Over In The Gloyland

3. Take My Hand Precious Lord

4. Church In The Wildwood

5. Precious Memories

7. The Old Rugged Cross

8. Somebody Touched Me

9. What A Friend We Have In Jesus

10. I Saw The Light

11. Rock Of Ages

13. In The Garden

14. Are You Washed In The Blood

15. How Beautiful Heaven Must Be

16. A Beautiful Life

17. An Old Account Settled

18. Just A Closer Walk With Thee

19. When We All Get To Heaven

20. Jesus Loves Me

21. O Why Not Tonight

22. Drifting Too Far From The Shore

23. Amen

24. Let's Meet By The River

25. Kneel At The Cross

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Track List: Memories Of That Old Country Church

1. Old Country Church

2. Little White Church

3. That Little Old Country Church House

4. The Church Bells Are Ringing Again

5. The Model Church

6. They Called It A Church

7. There S Always A Light (In The Church)

8. The Little Old Church By The Road

9. The Old Church Yard

10. You Go To Your Church

11. In A Little Village Churchyard

12. Turn Back, Turn Back

13. Little Community Church

14. I'll Meet You In Church Sunday Morning

15. Little House Of Prayer

16. We Missed You In Church Last Sunday

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Track List: That Good Ol' Country: Power Picks - 25 Traditional Classics

1. Rovin' Gambler

2. The Picture On The Wall

3. Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar

4. Sparkling Blue Eyes

5. Philadelphia Lawyer

6. The Georgia Mail

7. Keep On The Sunnyside

8. Ragged But I'm Right

9. Carolina Sunshine Girl

10. Tupelo County Jail

11. I'll Be All Smiles Tonight

12. Sand Mountain Blues

13. Left My Gal In The Mountains

14. There'll Come A Time

15. I Only Want A Buddy

16. Grandfather Clock

18. Frankie And Johnnie

19. Fallen Leaf

20. Wildwood Flower

21. How Many Biscuits Can You Eat

22. Budded Roses

23. Trouble In Mind

24. My Farm In Louisiana

25. Sourwood Mountain

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Track List: True Bluegrass Gospel

1. Over In The Gloryland

2. I'll Fly Away

3. I Pressed Through The Crowd

4. God Moves In A Windstorm

5. I Feel Closer To Heaven Everyday

6. Angel Band

7. Where No Cabins Fall

8. Drivin' Nails

9. Working On A Building

10. Family Bible

11. I Didn't Have A Prayer

12. When He Reached Down His Hand For Me

13. I've Just Seen The Rock Of Ages

14. When I Lay My Burdens Down

15. Softly And Tenderly

16. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

17. Amazing Grace

18. In His Arms I'm Not Afraid

19. When They Ring Those Golden Bells

20. When The Saints Go Marching In

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