Jim Hill was part of the Floyd Country Jamboree family. The Portales resident spent many years singing a wide-variety of harmony music and strumming his guitar for music lovers. But this year Hill was not present, at least not physically.
The music “legend” died of cancer in October. He was 72.
Organizers, friends and family took time to remember Hill through song and stories on Thursday night at the 54th Annual Floyd Jamboree on Floyd High School’s main stage in the old gymnasium.
His wife Janel Hill said he played in many bands, such as the Aggie Ramblers, New Mexico Playboys and Boothill Boys. She said he loved playing on the jamboree’s Old Timers band from 2000 to 2003.
“He loved it (jamboree),” Janel said. “He loved anything that had to do with music. Music was a big part of his life. I thought it (to dedicate jamboree to Jim) was tremendous.”
Janel said her family has always enjoyed performing and listening to the musicians in the Floyd Country Jamboree.
“It’s precious,” Janel said. “It’s a wonderful kind of family, country gathering. There is a lot of good talent out of this area.”
Base player Linda Brown played with Jim, and described the friendship as a “special bond” between musicians.
“I started singing at the Jamboree when I was 8, and he was already a legend then,” said Brown, a resident of Floyd all her life.
Jim played music with his family and they had a band called Hill Country. Janel said she played the drums and their daughter played base. She said Jim was lead guitar and their son, John, played the fiddle and both of them sang harmony.
Janel said John sings vocals and plays the fiddle for country star Trace Adkins.
One of his old band members, Fred Chandler, retold a story to the crowd about a performance in Pep, Texas. Chandler said they traveled in a bus to the little town in Texas to perform and he said it was miles from any other town.
Chandler said the band played the song ‘Cotton-eyed Joe” during their performance and people continued to pester them throughout the night to play it again.
“Jim told them we only play the same song once a night,” Chandler said. “We played until 1 a.m. and when we got ready to leave, someone let the air out every single tire on the bus. We spent an hour and a half pumping up the tires.”
A new generation of musicians are taking up the country acts and once again family plays a vital role. William Bannister, a 15-year-old Portales High sophomore, played the guitar and sang in one of the acts of the jamboree. He said his grandfather made a wooden guitar for him when he was 5 years old.
“I was a kid when I first got my guitar,” Bannister said. “I enjoy it a lot. It’s (jamboree) fun for all ages.”
About 700 hundred people packed in to the old gym in Floyd to watch the show. Today and Saturday the shows begin at 7 p.m. and should last until shortly after 10 p.m., according to jamboree officials.
The Gospel Jamboree begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday.