Maryland Traditions Folklife Area
Jay Armsworthy & Eastern Tradition
photo courtesy of artist
A school bus driver by day, Jay Armsworthy has made it his life’s passion to keep the flame for southern Maryland’s bluegrass heritage as a bandleader, radio host, and promoter. With his band Eastern Tradition, Jay is a beloved performer throughout the Chesapeake Bay and along the East Coast.
A lifetime resident of California, Maryland, located on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake, Jay’s family has lived in St. Mary’s County since the 1700s. He grew up listening to classic bluegrass on his parents’ record player. At age 10, his father, a musician, taught him guitar—there was no looking back. Jay first played and sang professionally with Ernie Bradley & Grassy Ridge, but he soon formed Eastern Tradition. In the summer of 1995, he gained national exposure touring with David Davis & the Warrior River Boys. He has also recorded four CDs, including his most recent, the gospel album I Couldn’t Make It Without Him, on Tom T. and Dixie Hall’s Blue Circle Records.
Jay’s radio career has spanned over two decades on the airwaves in the Chesapeake Bay and throughout the region. His longtime show Bluegrass on the Bay, which he produces from his home, currently airs from Pennsylvania to central Virginia, and online at thebluegrassjamborree.com. Jay also hosts a concert series at the American Legion Hall in Hughesville, several annual fundraising concerts, and, in 2017, he spearheaded efforts to save L’il Margaret’s Bluegrass and Old Time Festival.
Whether through his hard-driving band or his nonstop determination, Jay Armsworthy is the champion for bluegrass in southern Maryland.