TraditionsProjectLearn more about the Artists.

Jenkins, Snuffy

Snuffy Jenkins
Snuffy Jenkins

North Carolina native DeWitt “Snuffy” Jenkins enriched the body of southern American music throughout his colorful career. Jenkins' mastery of the banjo, penchant for humorous medicine show antics, and a willingness to share what he knew with young musicians were what defined him as an individual and as a musician.

Jenkins began his career in 1934 on WBT radio in Charlotte, North Carolina. He played with his band, The Jenkins String Band, on the Crazy Water Crystals Barn Dance on WBT. This is where he first met Homer "Pappy" Sherrill, who was playing with his own band at the time, The Crazy Hickory Nuts. By 1939, both Jenkins and Sherrill had moved to Columbia, South Carolina to join up with Byron Parker on WIS radio.

The WIS Hillbillies played under the direction of Parker (The Old Hired Hand)until his untimely death in 1948. In honor of Parker, Pappy and Snuffy renamed the band The Hired Hands and would continue to play together for fifty years.

Jenkins is widely credited with popularizing the “three finger” style of banjo pickin' now associated with Earl Scruggs and the “Scruggs Style.”

Snuffy and Pappy both started out on the “Kerosene Circuit” in the late 1920s, playing in barns and community centers throughout the region. With the emergence of radio in the 1930s, they were fixtures on stations like WIS in Columbia and WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jenkins and Sherrill performed traditional Southern fiddle and dance music and they represented some of the last medicine show comics. They were regulars at the South Carolina State Fair and spent years playing large halls and festivals, as well as performing community service at nursing homes, hospitals, and civic events around the Carolinas. Jenkins received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 1988. In June of 2012, Jenkins was inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame in Wilkesboro, NC.

Video   (Transcript Coming Soon)   Pop-up window. Get free QuickTime download.

bullet icon "Climate" (02:53)

Classic joke/skit by Greasy Medlin and Snuffy that was a standard during their medicine show days. From the "Pickin' Time" program on WIS-TV in Columbia, 1974.

bullet icon Snuffy talks about his roots... (03:50)

Snuffy featured on SCETV's Carolina Journal program, 1984. Discusses his growing up in North Carolina and his family's music tradition...

bullet icon Two Peas in a Pod.... (02:11)

Additional footage from the SCETV program Carolina Journal in 1984. Pappy Sherrill and Snuffy talk about music, features Hired Hands performance at SC State Fair and Greasy Medlin and Snuffy performing "Step It Up and Go."

bullet icon "Beaumont Rag" (02:24)

Snuffy, Pappy and the Hired Hands perform the "Beaumont Rag" on the "Pickin' Time" program, WIS-TV Columbia, 1974. Snuffy plays his washboard...

Back