History

History

Joyce and Jim Cauthen were (and still are) in another active old-time band, The Red Mt. White Trash, when the Service Guild of Birmingham called them about providing dinner music for a benefit dinner to be held in February 1995. The dinner would have a plantation theme and thus the band must have a banjo in it. Since the Trash did not have a banjo player, the Cauthens contacted Duncan Blair to play with them. Duncan had not been playing banjo very long, but was already quite good and had won first place in the old-time banjo category at the Tennessee Valley Old-Time Fiddler’s Convention earlier in the year. Together they developed a long list of tunes to play during the "Guild Gala" and afterwards they decided to continue as a band. In 2003 Flying Jenny added a fourth member of the band, Rachel Turner.  Turner, who lives next door to the Cauthens, has listened to them playing on their front porch for 15+ years.  Learning to play the bass and sing harmony with the band  was a breeze for her.  Then in 2008 we added a fifth member, Charlie Hunter, on banjo and fiddle.  Charlie grew up listening to his uncle, Duncan, play the banjo in Flying Jenny and on his porch.  Charlie went to school at Brown University where he immersed himself in old time music including spending considerable time in Jeff Titon's circle.

The band  took its name from a story that two elderly fiddlers from Sand Mountain told the Cauthens about their first paying job in the late 1920’s. They sat in the center of a mule-powered carnival ride called a Flying Jenny, and played tunes for the riders. It was a homemade, portable ride, something like a carousel with benches instead of wooden horses. Each time the ride stopped and folks got off, the owner dropped a nickel in the musicians’ pockets. The Louvin Brothers got their start on this same Flying Jenny.

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