We are very sorry to report that singer and multi-instrumentalist Jim Lansford of Galena, Missouri, lost his battle with cancer October 30, 2012. Jim had a deep commitment to and knowledge of traditional fiddling. He played fiddle tunes from Canada clear to Mississippi and back again, collecting them like a child collects shiny rocks. Though he learned and loved many tunes local to his stomping grounds in Stone County, Missouri, he also had a special place in his heart for the Missouri Valley repertoire. When musicians and family members staged a Bob Walters reunion in 2010, Jim enthusiastically drove to Nebraska (and how many people can say that?) to play Bob’s tunes—and jaw with like-minded friends—for a whole weekend.
Jim played not only fiddle, but just about anything with strings, and a few things without, and did it all well. On just two of his records with his wife, Kim, Jim can be heard playing fiddle, mandolin, banjo, steel guitar, and both flat-pick and fingerstyle guitar. The fuzzy edges between country and blues are especially evident in his playing. Jim spent much of his time playing music, both professionally and for fun, including memorable gigs with Don Ho and Shoji Tabuchi.
Like all the best musicians, Jim practiced, listened, and learned from others constantly, soaking up every new detail like it was the first. For the past several years, he’s been a master fiddler at the Bethel, Missouri Youth Fiddle Camp, partly to teach the campers and partly to enjoy the company and music of the other masters.
Kim and Jim have made music together as an old-time band and a traditional country duet for decades. Their spine-shivering harmony singing combines two of Jim’s favorite things: great music and a great story, enthusiastically told. Jim wound up many a session with stories, injected with his dry wit, of musicians he’d known and times spent doing the things he loved best, fiddle in hand. He’ll be missed.
Amber Gaddy, Missouri Traditional
Fiddle and Dance Networ