Smoak, Jim


  • From Walterboro, South Carolina. Currently lives in Pekin, Indiana (near Louisville.)
  • Learned to play banjo from listening to the original three-finger style banjo player, Snuffy Jenkins.
  • At Age 18, moved to Knoxville, TN and worked with Carl & Perl Butler on the Cas Walker Show (WROL Radio).
  • 1952, played banjo with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. He left when Monroe was injured in an auto accident (January 1953).
  • 1953, worked with Jimmy Dickens until Monroe was able to start working again (December 1953).
  • 1953-1954, worked with Bill Monroe and recorded several classics with him including “Close By” and “My Little Georgia Rose.”
  • 1954-1955, worked with Arthur Smith (replacing Don Reno who formed a band with Red Smiley).
  • 1955-1957, served in the U.S. Army.
  • 1957-1960, played banjo with Hylo Brown and the Timberliners (Earl Scruggs recommended him for the job).
  • 1960-1962, moved to Baton Rouge the second time (he had previously worked there following his stint with Monroe in 1954) and formed his own band, Jim Smoak and the Louisiana Honeydrippers, recording two albums Bayou Bluegrass and “Louisiana Bluegrass.”
  • 1962-1973, moved to Alexandria, Louisiana and with Harold and Betty Thom, formed the Cumberlands, a folk group.
  • In the 1970’s, authored several popular banjo instruction books.
  • 1979, recorded “Moonshine Sonata” CD.
  • As a songwriter, his songs have been covered by the New Grass Revival, J.D. Crowe & the New South, and the Dixie Chicks. Songs include “This Heart of Mine,” “You Can Share My Blanket,” “Cold Sailor” and “Colly Davis”
  • 1982-2003, performed at the Old Stable Restaurant in Bardstown, Kentucky with a group called the Mountain Dew Hillbillies.
  • 2004, released Carolina Boy album (Copper Creek).
  • 2008, released “The Orange Blossom Special” album (no label).
  • 2013, released solo project Smoak House Jam (no label).