Jim Mills: Built for the Banjo

“I’m real proud of it. It means something to be from North Carolina and to be a three-finger style banjo player.” –Jim Mills

Jim Mills fell in love with the banjo when he was seven years old. It all began on an ordinary day when his brother, 10 years his senior, was spinning through his record collection. He played some Creedence and some Fats Domino. Then he put on Earl Scruggs’  “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” an instrumental record that featured the banjo. Mills was transfixed. He’d grown up around the instrument—his dad and granddad both played it in the clawhammer style, a method of strumming and plucking popular with old time musicians. “I had heard it the way my Granddad played it, but not this rapid fire machine gun sound.” The Scruggs record was unlike anything he’d ever heard,  “I didn’t recognize it as a banjo…but I put my ear on the speaker and said, ‘play it again.’” It was the beginning of a lifelong passion that has defined Mills’ life.

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