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James Mathus & His Knockdown Society


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James Mathus was a member of neo-swing group The Squirrel Nut Zippers. He released an album of blues songs, Play Songs For Rosetta, under his own name.

Early Life/Career

Jimbo Mathus was born James H. Mathis, Jr., in Oxford, Mississippi, to Jimmy Mathis and Jeanella (Malvezzi) Mathis. His genealogy is of Scottish and Italian origin. His early life was filled with music, as his father and relatives were skilled instrumentalists and singers. He began joining the family musical circle at an early age and by age 8 was proficient at mandolin. By 15, Jimbo had been taught the rudiments of guitar, piano and harmony singing. The family’s repertoire consisted of hundreds of folk, bluegrass, country blues and pre-recorded songs passed down through the Maths and Byrd families. His father was an avid outdoorsman, traveler and also raised hunting dogs and horses. Thus, Mathus’ early life consisted of much hunting and fishing in the Corinth, Mississippi, area.

Mathus was involved in rock-and-roll music in Corinth High School and was recorded first in 1983 at Sam Phillips Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee, in a group called The End. He also helped found Johnny Vomit & The Dry Heaves, which was one of the first punk rock/experimental noise bands in the state of Mississippi.

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