In Loving Memory of

J   I   M       S   T   E   P   T   O   E

March 19, 1951 - August 30, 2009


Jimmy was a mainstay in Patent Pending for 30 years, as our banjo player, harmony singer, and beloved bandmate. We continue to celebrate his life and the joy he brought to all of us. If you have thoughts or photos, please share them with us, and we will post them here:

During his junior year in college in Philadelphia, Jim backed into bluegrass music by way of the folk music revival. He started attending weekly jam sessions, playing a lot of Irish music on the autoharp and banjo.

While taking a year off between undergraduate school and law school, Jim returned home to Martinsburg, West Virginia and directed his efforts toward learning to play the bluegrass banjo. It was during this time he met Andy Boarman, a musician and luthier who has helped four generations of banjo players to get the best sound possible out of their instruments. He accomplished this by setting up their instruments and teaching them licks. The list of pickers influenced by Andy includes Don Reno, Little Roy Lewis, and Raymond Fairchild. Jim considered Andy as his initial and most lasting inspiration in music.

While attending law school in Morgantown, West Virginia, Jim met and began playing music with guitarist Rusty Williams; the two played for several years with Mountain Grass. Jim and Rusty recorded one album with this group before leaving the band and moving to Martinsburg and joining Patent Pending. Through the assimilation of a number of competing influences over the years including J. D. Crowe, Bob Black, Don Reno, and Ralph Stanley, Jim had arrived a style that was uniquely his own.

The Memorial Service

Patent Pending and former band members Mike Hartnett, Teri Chism and Wayne Lanham performed a musical tribute to Jim at the service which included the following song written for Jim:

Every Tear

You were right by my side
Every step of the way
Every show, every chord, every song
And with each passing day
As the sun fades away
I am trying my best to stay strong

Though these sad goodbyes
Bring the tears to my eyes
I know we’ll be together some day
Where the soul never dies
In that sweet home on high
Where every tear is wiped away

Every life that you touched
We will miss you so much
You’re the rock that we all could lean on
All the stories and smiles
As we traveled the miles
I still can’t believe that you’re gone

- Eldred Hill

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