Jim Mathis showed a strong interest in music at an early age. His mother tells the story of him crying because he wanted to be on stage playing at the age of two. He began playing the steel guitar when he was eight and joined the family band where his parents both sang and played guitars.
In high school, he played tuba in the band and orchestra. In 1966 he joined a rock band playing electric bass and earned his way through college playing music. After Louise and Jim were married, he decided to give up music as a performer, assuming his playing days were over. He became an avid music collector and audiophile.
A fellow employee at the camera store where he worked turned him on to bluegrass. He bought a Dobro in 1976 and began to learn to play it. It wasn’t until twenty-years later, in 1996, after he sold his photography business, that he decided to get serious again about music. He bought a new pedal steel guitar in 1999 and studied for a while with Jeff Newman in Nashville until Jeff’s untimely death in a plane crash.
In 2001 Jim opened Homer’s Coffee House as a Christian music venue. There he joined the traditional music group, Electric Prairie, as a Dobro player. Through that group he met Bob and Theresa Kaat-Wohlert. The three of them formed the nucleus of what would become the blues/rock band Sky Blue.
Jim had always considered himself a sideman, but harbored a secret desire to be a singer. He asked God to give him a singing voice. God answered that prayer and also provided a voice coach, Ronni Ward. Now at the age of 59, Jim finds himself one of the lead singers, along with Theresa Kaat-Wohlert, of his own group, playing regularly at his own club.
Jim says that you are never too old to pursue your passion or use your God-given gifts. Also, you may have gifts you didn’t know you had. They only need to be developed through training and practice.
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