Jim “Duck” Adkins is a professional banjo player, entertainer, and banjo instructor from Marietta, Georgia. Jim is also a world-class duck impressionist, thus his nickname is “Duck”. Jim plays a hybrid banjo style that is based on Scruggs three finger style with melodic riffs.
Jim began playing banjo in 1972 while attending the University of Georgia. While in college, Jim performed with the Buzz Saw Boogie Band, a bluegrass, folk-rock subgroup of the UGA Men’s Glee Club. Jim also began teaching banjo to other UGA students in 1974.
Since college, Jim has played with many other bands including the Sapwood Society of Pickers, Cedar Hill of Atlanta which he co-founded in 1976, Hood ‘n Wiley, and Atlanta BlueGrace, a bluegrass gospel band that Jim founded in 1985. Jim also played with Cup of Joe at Atlanta Braves home games in 1995–the year the Braves won the World Series. Jim was featured playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on banjo in the official 1995 World Series video. Jim was also elected to the Hall of Honor of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of fame in 2004.
Jim has also performed or played with many other bluegrass celebrities, bands and orchestras. Among these are Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, David Grisman, John McCuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jack Lawrence, Pete Wernick, Tim O’Brien, Jens Kruger, Little Roy Lewis and the Lewis Family, Terry Baucom, Trey Anastasio & Mike Gordon of Phish, Geoff Hohwald, Buddy Ashmore & Pony Express, Whoa Nellie, The Redlight Cafe Allstars, Dappled Grays, Yellow & Bluegrass from Sweden, The Atlanta Pops Orchestra, Chattanooga Tennesee Symphony, and the list goes on. In addition, Jim has performed as an opening act or shared the stage at festivals and shows with countless top-tier performers such as New Grass Revival, The Tony Rice Unit, The David Grisman Quintet, The Country Gentlemen, and many others.
In 2006, Jim (along with Brad Laird and the folks at Banjo.com) helped organize a Guiness World Record tribute to Earl Scruggs at an Atlanta Braves doubleheader. Gibson brought Earl down from Nashville and 240 banjo players from across the United States, and one from Tokoyo, played Foggy Mountain Breakdown for five minutes to the delight of Earl and Atlanta Braves fans.
L-R Little Roy Lewis, Jim Adkins, and Earl Scruggs.
Jim has performed throughout the United States and around the world. Some notable locations include Lincoln Center in New York, the San Francisco Wharf, Balboa Park in San Diego , the Station Inn in Nashville, The International House of Music in Moscow, and various locations in Belgium, Sweden and the Ukraine.
Jim’s discography includes several recordings with Cedar Hill including “Ruff ‘n Ready”, “Mama Don’t Alllow”, “25 Years of Cedar Hill Live”, and “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyeballs.”
As the “Duck”, Jim is a recording artist for Cedarmont Music, a Christian children’s music company in Franklin Tennessee. In October of 2010, Cedarmont released Jim’s Christmas duck CD, entitled, “Jingle Ducks” which includes Jim quacking duck vocals and harmony on Christmas classics like Jingle Bells, Felice Navidad, and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. Jim has several recorded perfomances on YouTube, including Polly Wolly Doodle which he sings like a duck while playing the banjo:
Jim also helped Young Audiences, of the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, create an elementary school program entitled The American Songbook. Jim and two other members of Cedar Hill, have performed this programs for dozens of schools around Georgia.
Jim plays a 1934 Gibson conversion banjo with a Frank Neat neck and a Bill Blaylock tone ring. His other banjo is a 1988 Gibson Granada. Jim also plays a Pat Cloud, Gold Tone, model banjola which he uses to lead worship at his church in Marietta, Georgia.
Jim loves to teach banjo and share his knowledge of various banjo styles and licks with other aspiring banjo players in private lessons and workshops. The only thing he likes better than teaching banjo is performing and entertaining. Jim is also Director of Marketing and Entertainment for Banjo.com, the world’s largest banjo store.