“I’ve always like old-time music,” Jerry says. He grew up in Ashe County in a family that listened to a lot of mountain music. “My daddy liked it,” he says. “We always listened to the Grand Ole Opry.” Jerry remembers on Saturdays they would park the family pick-up truck on the top of the hill and remove the battery to power the radio. On Sunday morning, they would put the dead battery in the truck, coast it down the hill to start the engine, and drive to church, charging the battery enough for the rest of the week.
As guitar player and bandleader for the Grayson Highlands Band for nearly two decades, he has played old-time music at festivals, churches, and fiddlers’ conventions all over the region. The current lineup for the band includes his daughter and son-in-law Susan and Paul Trianosky, granddaughter Tina Trianosky Steffy, and grandson Ryan Smith, making it a multi-generation family band.
The Grayson Highlands Band was started in the 1970s by Ken Powers of Independence, Virginia. Jerry has performed with them since he joined in the late 1980s. “We have won about all the fiddlers’ conventions around, except for Galax,” he says. “And we took second there a couple times.” The band has played, and continues to play, many of the festivals and fiddlers’ conventions around the region. They perform annually at Christmas in July in West Jefferson and the Ashe County 4th of July celebration. They have played the Whitetop Festival, Wayne Henderson Festival, and the Carter Family Fold in Virginia, and the Mountain Music Jamboree and Autumn Leaf Festival in Mount Airy, North Carolina. The band also enjoys playing for dances. “We play our fast tunes pretty fast,” Jerry admits.
Jerry Smith is available for performances with Grayson Highlands Band and occasionally with Paul Hardy and other Ashe County musicians as Jerry Smith and Friends or Paul Hardy and Friends. He will consider requests for programs at elementary and middle schools.