The Saltgrass Band

Jim Lowery

Jim Lowery was raised in Oak Hill, West Virginia and started playing music around the age of 7. Music was always around the house as his dad (Willard Lowery) and mom (Lilly Lowery) would  pick and sing while stringing beans, canning tomatoes, or just sitting on the porch. His dad played the guitar using the thumbpick and 2 finger method. He got so much music out of that old guitar. Mom would sing the alto part and they were pretty good.

Sometimes we would meet at a friends or relatives house and have some good food and pick. You could hear songs from the likes of Hawkshaw Hawkins, Porter Waggoner, Carl and Pearl Butler, Jim Reeves, Flatt and Scruggs and other “country “performers.  Although Jim did not pick every time they got together, he was always around the music. These people were hard working folks and did this for relaxation. They called it “making music “.   

Jim’s first stringed instrument was an Autoharp. It was a gift from his parents and he had watched his uncle play one on several occasions. Jim then learned a few chords on the guitar and as time went by, got to “make music “more often. Most of the time though, Jim was outside playing with friends, swinging on grapevines, riding horses and other stuff kids did.

The only formal music training Jim had was playing the trumpet for the school band. He made “all state” honors his senior year in high school and also played the trumpet in a dance band for a couple of years. Again “making music”.

Jim spent 4 years in the United States Air Force and is a self taught banjo player. He met many folks during his Air Force career that picked music. Again they would meet and “make music “and have a great time. During this time, Jim focused more on bluegrass and tried to learn the banjo. He would listen to bluegrass albums and try to learn “Scruggs” style picking. He still keeps in contact with some of those pickers he met in the military.

No matter where he went, there was always someone around ready to   “make music “. As time went by, Jim had learned a little on the bass guitar for a group of men who needed a bass player. This group formed to play at nursing homes, family functions, fund raisers, and churches. Although he was not that good, he played with the group and gained more experience in bluegrass music.

After moving to Texas,   Jim located the Spring Creek Bluegrass Club and started attending the jams at the Oklahoma Community Center. One time while jamming, Jim was asked if he would play banjo for a band that needed a banjo player. He was very nervous but played anyway. Again, he was not that good, but the band made him feel welcome. It was all about “making music “. This band was called Flatt Country and the late Ken Holder was the leader. Everyone in that group were excellent musicians and played traditional bluegrass.  Other bands Jim played in were Southern Bluegrass and The Right Connection.

One day, Jim heard that The Saltgrass Band may be looking for a bass player. He tried out for the group using John Brockett’s upright bass and got the job.  (He might have been the only one who tried out). He was not that great on the upright, but continues to learn every time the band plays. He has played with Saltgrass for 16 years and still enjoys “making music” with the band and jam sessions with friends. 


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