SOME MUSICIANS WAIT THEIR WHOLE LIVES FOR A CHANCE TO PERFORM ON THE GRAND OLE OPRY STAGE, BUT NOT THESE TWO.
Twenty-three-year-old Jake Eddy, a flatpicking guitarist from Parkersburg, West Virginia, is lucky enough to say he’s performed on the stage four times in the last two years. His younger brother, 19-year-old Carter, joined him in the latest two performances just after graduating from Parkersburg South High School in 2022.
“As a kid, you always see the videos of artists playing there, but it’s hard to imagine yourself playing there,” said Carter, who plays the double bass. “It doesn’t even seem believable when you walk on the stage yourself.”
Their last Opry performance was on December 20, 2022, with Brooklyn-based instrumentalist Andy Statman. The brothers initially worked with Statman when Jake reached out about a possible recording collaboration, but they never thought the acclaimed musician would be a potential touring partner.
“I wrote some tunes I wanted Andy to record on, and we ended up having a great time on the sessions and it just snowballed into the gig partnership that it is today,” Jake said. “We just had fun doing it, and I think booking the Opry solidified our partnership.”
Growing up in West Virginia, the boys listened to their mother and grandfather play music, and the sounds of bluegrass, folk and Americana filled the house. As soon as they were old enough to hold an instrument, they’d signed up for their first gig in the family band.
“I remember singing with my grandfather before I could even really speak,” Jake said. “I never saw music as a hobby, but more of my identity. As a kid, I remember being so obsessed with playing and listening to music that I wouldn’t even want to get up to go to the bathroom — I just wanted to be picking.”
Jake’s career took off when he was in just the seventh grade, after being scouted at a festival to tour with bluegrass legend Melvin Goins. Because of his young age, Jake was only allowed to travel if an adult went with him, so he brought along his grandfather — the man who first got him into music. When Goins’ bassist quit on the first day of the gig, Jake knew just the man for the job.
His advanced flatpicking techniques have generated global attention, with over 50,000 followers on social media. He regularly teaches group or private lessons via social media, and now offers a home-stay program where guitar students can immerse themselves in a weekend of private coaching. He also provides session work for musicians across the globe from his home studio.
“When COVID-19 hit and I couldn’t be on the road, I was probably teaching 40-50 students a week,” Jake said. “I have to be a little more selective now that I’m touring more regularly.”
Most recently, Jake released a live album entitled Jake Eddy: Live at the Spanish Ballroom, a modern take on bluegrass classics available on all streaming platforms. In September, he joins notable guitarists across genres at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, a weekend of extraordinary guitar performances hosted by renowned musician Eric Clapton.
Carter said that he fell into his instrument and career as somewhat of a way to round out the family’s needs, and he hasn’t looked back since.
“I started out playing the mandolin — I guess since I was the smallest kid, I got the smallest instrument,” Carter said. “A few years later, I switched to playing bass because no one else in the family was playing it and I was able to fill the gap.”
In addition to touring individually and with his brother, Carter is a music industry student at Full Sail University. He also gives occasional bass lessons and provides session work when needed. Just as Carter picked up the bass to fill the family gap, he continues to thrive as a professional bassist for musicians with various needs.
“I still get calls from artists in the area that need a bass player, so I get a lot of opportunities to just be on call,” Carter said. “Bass players can work like crazy through word-of-mouth.”
Despite having slightly different careers, the brothers always knew they were meant to play together. From their early gigs at ice cream socials and church gatherings to the Grand Ole Opry, the brothers credited their playing of different instruments as a constant need for collaboration.
“I think it would be weird if we didn’t work together,” Jake said. “It’s never going to be a competitive thing; I’ll always need a bass player, and he’ll always need a guitarist.” The brothers mentioned that frequent travel can wear them down, but they can always reconnect with the childlike wonder and passion they first found in music.
“It’s a weird lifestyle because it’s a lot of work in between a lot of nothing,” Jake said. “I still feel a lot of amazement with music; it still feels mysterious and unbelievable that it’s still working out, and I just try to stay inspired by listening to music that I dig.”
“There’s stuff that will get you down, but you get reminded of how good you have it in the first note you play,” Carter said.