Clinch Mountain Echo

J.D. Jarvis - More Bluegrass Gospel Songs

(Rural Rhythm RRJD-224) 1969


More Bluegrass Gospel Songs
Rear Cover Side One Side Two

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The Lost Ralph Stanley album? Well, if not lost, pretty much nearly forgotten... This album by J.D. Jarvis doesn't mention Ralph anywhere on the artwork, but his unique banjo work is very much in evidence throughout, as is the stellar guitar of Larry Sparks and Curly Ray's signature fiddle playing.

In later interviews with J.D. he described how Ralph would sometimes stay at his home whilst the CMB's were on tour. He'd been introduced to Ralph by Jimmie Skinner, and in 1968 Ralph adapted one of J.D.'s songs What Kind Of Man (Jesus Is) on his Over The Sunset Hill LP. Although credited to Ralph/Larry Sparks, J.D. had also recorded his version with Rusty York on 'Bluegrass Gospel Songs' (Rural Rhythm RRJD-195) 1968, which is very similiar, albeit with fewer lyrics.

There's no date given for the 'More Bluegrass Gospel' LP recording, but as it was reviewed in the Jan. 1970 edition of 'Bluegrass Unlimited' it most likely dates from the latter half of 1969, when Ralph didn't have a regular bass player.[1]

The album contains 19 songs with J.D. singing lead, with I believe his wife Rosie and son Lucky providing occasional harmony vocals; plus a lively instrumental version of God Loves His Children which can be heard on youtube. As with many of J.D.'s albums the sacred material seems to be a mix of originals and gospel songbook material... though it isn't easy to determine which is which since not all of his originals are listed in the BMI database and I've similarly drawn a blank on some titles from on-line hymn searches.

Ralph later re-recorded Come On Little Children from the LP and another of J.D.'s songs: Take Your Shoes Off Moses on his 1971 Cry From The Cross album.

John Dill (J.D.) Jarvis was born in Clay County, Kentucky on 21st April 1924 and began playing guitar as a young child. His father worked in the coal mines, but following an argument on the highway, was shot and killed when J.D. was just 13. Three years later he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public relief program that provided manual labour jobs as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal.[2] During WWII J.D. was one of the first troops to hit the beach in the D-Day landings at Normandy and was wounded three times during the liberation of Europe, being awarded three purple hearts and a Bronze Star medal. He later recalled how, having being wounded by shrapnel and thrown 30 feet in the air he had vision of his grandmother praying for his safe return.[3]

Having survived the war, J.D. got married and drifted for a while playing in hillbilly bars in the greater Cincinnati area. After a few wild years of barroom brawls, he nearly killed his wife and son whilst drink driving. This proved to be a wake up call, and in 1953 he quit alcohol and soon afterwards was 'saved' at a tent-revival meeting. J.D. then settled in Hamilton, Ohio in 1959 and ran a painting / decorating business with his brothers-in-law, whilst singing in churches and appearing on local gospel radio/TV shows.

J.D. continued to play music, concentrating on sacred / gospel music and recorded his first EP around 1960. He went on to cut albums for several labels including Down Home, Heart Warming, Jewel, Rural Rhythm, Vetco and Sagegrass. From the mid-60s into the early '80s, he recorded prolifically, with the liner notes to his 1981 "Best Of..." LP claiming it as his 34th long playing album so far. Nearly all of his material I've heard is country Gospel, with many of his albums featuring bluegrass instrumentation and J.D.'s plain down-home singing and guitar playing. Some of his discs are however notable for featuring bluegrass musicians like Paul Mullins, Art Stamper, Joe & Lilly Isaacs, The Wilson Brothers (who J.D. introduced to Ralph), Josh Graves, Frank Wakefield, Walter Hensley and others.

As a songwriter, J.D.'s Life Of Ransom, Six Hours On The Cross, Come On Little Children and Take Your Shoes Off Moses have all been recorded by several Bluegrass bands, with Take Your Shoes Off... probably being the most well known.

J.D. died 31st Dec 2010 at the V.A. hospital in Cincinnatti. His son Lucky Jarvis also passed away 26th Aug 2012 aged 58.

This LP is now pretty hard to find, a few tracks (My Lord Will Send A Moses, Traffic Light, Rose Among The Thorns) appeared on a CD 'Mother Needs No Marker' (Old Homestead OHCD-4018) 199? but that too is not easy to locate. Fortunately Rural Rhythm are considering adding the album to their $6 CD-R reissue 'Heritage Collection' in 2018... so watch this space!

For further information on J.D. Jarvis check Ivan M. Tribe's article 'J.D. Jarvis - Voice Of Bluegrass Gospel' ('Bluegrass Unlimited' Dec. 1996), which I've used as the basis for much of this entry.

Track:
Title:
Side One:
(19:09)
1
My Lord Will Send A Moses

P.D.
2
When I Get Home

Roscoe S. Reed
3
Jesus Is Keeping A Watch Over My Soul

??
4
Come On Little Children

J.D. Jarvis
5
Hold Fast To The Right

Peter P. Bilhorn
6
Heaven Come Down On Me

??
7
I Recommend The Lord

??
8
Traffic Light

??
9
God Loves His Children

??
10
Get On Board

P.D.
Side Two:
(19:12)
1
I Want To Go With Jesus

??
2
I'll Tell The World

??
3
Across The Bridge

??
4
If I Can Just Make It In

??
5
I'll Not Be Coming Back Anymore

??
6
Rose Among The Thorns

Ernest C. Martin
7
Wandering Boy

R.S. Hanna
8
Sleep Mother Sleep

Ernest Rippetoe
9
I'm Almost Home

??
10
Come And Dine

C.B. Widmeyer

Go To Top Of Page [1] Melvin Goins left the CMB's in May '69, and Jack Cooke didn't join until after a chance meeting with Ralph in Nov '69.
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_Conservation_Corps
[3] J.D.'s liner notes to 'J.D. Jarvis Sings The Hyden Miners Tragedy (and His Most Requested Songs)' (Down Home 110113) 1971.