First West Virginia
Joltin' Jim McCoy received the first "Spirit" award from the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame last Saturday night in Charleston.
McCoy has been a country music singer, songwriter, publisher, promoter and disc jockey throughout his long career. He has run four record companies through the years that recorded regional music.
McCoy, 80, owns The Troubadour, which is located near Berkeley Springs on Highland Ridge on the family homeplace where he grew up.
Now in its third year, the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame honors West Virginians who have made their mark in all musical styles, from mountain fiddlers to opera singers.
The Spirit award was started this year as a way of recognizing living West Virginians who have been performers but have also otherwise distinguished themselves and promoted music in the Mountain State.
"In so many ways, our first recipient, Joltin' Jim McCoy, personifies the unique spirit of West Virginia," said Michael Lipton in announcing the award.
Lipton is founder of the State Music Hall of Fame as well as guitarist in the "Mountain Stage" band and leader of the Carpenter Ants group.
The Hall of Fame award ceremony took place on the Cultural Center stage on the State Capitol grounds and was preceded by a dinner reception at the governor's mansion.
only show was hosted
by singer Kathy Mattea
and Nashville instrumentalist Charlie McCoy, both of whom are West Virginia natives. McCoy was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.
"A true musician"
Lipton personally gave the Spirit award to McCoy and told the Charleston audience about the Morgan Countian's career.
"When Jim was growing up in Berkeley Springs, it didn't take him long to figure out that cutting timber with a crosscut saw was not his calling. I believe he told me it was way too much work...
A true musician," Lipton said.
As a picture of McCoy in his 1960s singing heyday was projected on a screen, Lipton told of how Joltin' Jim left the farm for a radio career in Winchester. There, a young Patsy Cline showed up one morning and asked to sing with his band.
In the years ahead, McCoy often performed with country music legend Cline. His band played at her wedding and he was one of her pallbearers. His friendship with her husband, Charlie Dick, continues today.
Lipton said he'd heard about McCoy for years but finally met him last winter when he brought the Music Hall of Fame exhibit to the Ice House and the Carpenter Ants played Berkeley Springs.
Calling The Troubadour "one of the finest and most serious honky-tonks in West Virginia," Lipton gave a vivid description of the place and its mountain setting.
He added, "I may well have pinched the Hall of Fame idea from Jim," who started his own Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999 to honor musicians from this area and around the state.
The Hall of Famers
This year's inductees in the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame were:
—The Bailes Brothers, a gospel stringband that was the first West Virginia act to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1944.
—Larry Combs, a classical and jazz clarinetist who was featured for many years with the Chicago Symphony.
—Frank DeVol, a composer, bandleader and comedian who wrote the themes and soundtrack music for dozens of movies and TV shows.
—Hawkshaw Hawkins, one of the top country singers of the 1950s, who died in the same plane crash as Patsy Cline in 1963.
—Don Redman, a jazz musician and arranger from Keyser, who is considered one of the fathers of the Big Band Swing style of the 1930s.
—Nat Reese, a blues and gospel singer who went from the West Virginia coalfields to tours of Europe.
—Doc & Chickie Williams, the mainstays of the Wheeling Jamboree for decades.
Saturday night's show was filmed for West Virginia Public TV and is expected to be aired in January. A related program with interviews of Hall of Fame inductees is planned for December.