Jim Booker

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JIM BOOKER. African-American fiddler born in 1872 at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, into a musical family. His father was burn in 1837 and was a fiddler, and all his sons, Jim, John and Joe were talented multi-instrumentalists. The family lived at Black Bridge on Hickman Creek, near the Kentucky River in the southern extreme of Jessamine County. Along with a neighbor, Robert Steele, the sons formed the group The Booker Orchestra, and journeyed to Richmond, Indiana, to record two blues sides for Gennett records. The Booker Orchestra had accompanied Taylor's Kentucky Boys, a white string band, to their second Gennett recording session and Jim Booker also occasionally played with them, and is the fiddler on the Taylor's recording of the breakdown "Grey Eagle (1)." Richard Nevins [1] believes the Bookers were the source for "many of the tunes found in Jessamine, Garrard, Madison and other surrounding counties." Fiddlers from northern Kentucky near the Ohio River, such as John Masters, Pretzel Broyle, and Clarence Skirvin either learned directly from Jim Booker or played tunes from his repertoire in his style. Masters, in particular, knew and played many tunes that he learned directly from Booker.

  1. Liner notes to Morning Star 45003, "Wink the other Eye: Old Time String Band Music from Kentucky", 1980.