Photos courtesy of Tom Isaacs
Types of Artistry
Bluegrass banjo player
Marion, NC (McDowell County)
Jim Huskins has played banjo from the Midwest to the East Coast. Today he lives within 400 feet of his family home place, and continues to play music with his band, Jim Huskins and Ten Broeck.
When he was a boy, Jim discovered a banjo while visiting a friend's house. "Once we found the banjo," he remembers, "all I wanted to do was play the banjo all day." His passion for the instrument was fueled by going with his parents to see Flatt and Scruggs. He also went with them to square dances in Little Switzerland where banjo player E. C. Miller played with the Toe River Valley Boys. By the time he was nineteen years old, he had saved enough money to buy a banjo, and he made trips to Elizabethton, Tennessee, to take lessons with Miller.
Jim combined his call to the ministry with his love of music. He moved to St. Louis, Missouri, to attend Bible college, and discovered a hotbed of music, including banjo player Lew Broadfoot. "Lew could play anything on the banjo," Jim says. "I saw him play a lot, and I tried to pick up all I could from him." He played with a bluegrass gospel band while at school in Missouri. "There's nothing like being in a band to help you learn to play," he says.
During his third year of college, he moved to East Tennessee to continue his studies, and he worked at Taylor's Guitar Shop in Elizabethton with E. C. Miller and Bennie Simms. While he was in Elizabethton, Jim played banjo and sang baritone harmony parts in various bands, including with the group Country Comforts. One summer, he worked at the Land of Oz on Beech Mountain, playing nearly every day with Billy Constable and Gene Wooten, two accomplished bluegrass musicians.
As a minister, Jim traveled and worked in Pennsylvania, Kansas, and North Carolina, and he continued to play music wherever he went. He has performed with Russ Jordan's band Wheel Hoss in North Carolina, and Bob and Melissa Atchison's band in Kansas. In the 1990s, he often performed with Lawrence Wiseman of Avery County, a relative through his mother's family.
Now Jim is a preacher and licensed auctioneer in McDowell County, and he plays with his band Ten Broeck. "We don't play full-time," he says, "But we're playing a lot." The band's name comes from the racehorse made famous in the song "Molly and Tenbrooks." The group plays a monthly two-hour live radio show called The Livermush Café, for the McDowell County Arts Council. Jim writes material for the group, and he loves living in McDowell County. "It would be hard for me to imagine being anywhere else," he says.
Jim Huskins and Ten Broeck are available for performances for church-related engagements, festivals, or other events. Jim is also available for emcee work, banjo, and singing workshops.