James H. Reed, Jr., passed away on April 30, at the age of 87, in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The Oak Grove Community (St. Marys), West Virginia, resident was a fiddler, guitar player, and instrument maker.
Born in Glen Lyn, Virginia, in 1925, James Reed was an heir to a family legacy of music. His father was famed fiddler Henry Reed, whose repertoire has been so influential for old-time musicians over the last forty years; his uncle Josh was also a musician, as were members of earlier generations of the family. James Reed learned as a child to accompany his father’s fiddling on the guitar, and he grew to be an accomplished guitarist, as well as fiddler. In 2003, he appeared on the album A Henry Reed Reunion, in a trio with Alan Jabbour and Bertram Levy.
In addition to his playing, Reed was known for his handcrafted fiddles, which he began to make in the latter decades of his life. He is also remembered for mentoring and encouraging many younger musicians, and sharing with them his family’s musical heritage. James Reed is survived by his wife Marge Reed, their three children and nine grandchildren, his five siblings, and many other members of the extended Reed family.