At 77 years old, Jim Jewell says he has taken his lifelong passion of bluegrass music and turned it into a mission.
Jim Jewell performs with Eryn Eubanks and the Family Fold at Metro A Coffee House in Augusta.
Photo by Michael Holahan
"I do love it. I love what I do," Jewell said. "I rededicated my life to the Lord. I knew there was things he wanted me to do that I wasn't doing.''
Jewell was the owner and operator of Jim's Lawn Service for 35 years before retiring in 1999. He said he earned a living by playing bluegrass on the guitar for a while but now prefers to play for the message he brings to listeners, including Gospel lyrics in some of his songs.
"When the Lord gives you something to do, you do it faithfully,'' he said.
Jewell said he started playing guitar at the age of 10 at his grandmother's house. He said his grandmother made him wash his hands before he played along with the radio, teaching himself to play one finger at a time.
Sixty-seven years later, Jewell now plays live at least twice a week at Metro A Coffeehouse and at Bible Deliverance Temple Church in Augusta as a member of the Eryn Eubanks and The Family Fold, of which Jewell became the oldest member in early 2002. Jewell said the age difference between him and 17-year-old Eryn doesn't bother him in the least.
"A lot of people think it's amazing, that teenagers and senior citizens get along together, but she's just like my granddaughter because I've known her all her life,'' he said. "We went to the same church. Me and her granddaddy was good buddies."
Eryn Eubanks and the Family Fold perform bluegrass, gospel, classic country, mountain, folk, Celtic, and Apollon music.
"I enjoy it," Jewell said. "We really enjoy what we do, all of us. We're family. We're not blood kin, but that don't keep us from being a family."
Jewell said he has known Eryn since she was a baby. After being invited to play with the group during a morning service at Bible Deliverance Temple Church, he decided to stay with them.
"He brings his experience as well as the old style of singing that you don't hear anymore. He's the real deal," Eryn said. "It's been great. He's just a perfect fit."
Those who know Jewell say he has plenty of experience to bring to the group, having performed with bluegrass names such as Scotty the Drifter on live radio shows broadcast live from the Modjeska Theatre in the 1950s.
In that era, Jewell said, bluegrass went by a lot of names such as hillbilly and country. Jewell said it doesn't matter what people call his type of music, so long as they get the message.
"That's just like preaching,'' he said. "That's what they call teaching, preaching. I still call it teaching. It's God's word, anyway, whichever way you want to take it."
Jewell has played the 8:30 a.m. service at Bible Deliverance for nearly four years and missed only one service, he said.
"If the Lord gives you something to do, he wants you to be faithful and do it," Jewell said.
He said he'll stay faithful to the music and the message by continuing to play with Eryn until she gets rich or famous. At that time, he said, he plans to pass his guitar position along to his grandson. Still, the Toombs County native said he doesn't plan to stop playing any time soon.
"I told them I was going to try to make it to 100," Jewell said with a laugh.
If you go
WHO: Eryn Eubanks and The Family Fold
TIMES: An informal worship service featuring bluegrass-style music from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Sundays at the Bible Deliverance Temple Church Fellowship Hall, at Eve and Fenwick streets, and from 2:30-5:30 p.m. Saturdays at Metro A Coffeehouse, at 11th and Broad streets.
MONTHLY PERFORMANCES: First Fridays of the month in front of the Antique Emporium at 11th and Broad streets; second Sundays of the month at 8:30 a.m. at the Bible Deliverance Temple Church Fellowship Hall.
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