Jim learned to play the banjo from his father, mother and grandfather while growing up on a farm in South Carolina. He could listen to Snuffy Jenkins on WIS radio six days a week, and that's where he first heard the three finger style of playing the banjo. He learned frailing or clawhammer style from him, too. When Jim turned eighteen, he left the farm and milking cows and landed a job on WROL radio in Knoxville, Tennessee. Two months later, he was playing on the Grand Ole Opry with Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys. He worked with other country artists such as Little Jimmy Dickens and Hylo Brown and the Timberliners. He worked at WAFB radio and television in Baton Rouge, La., and WBT radio and television in Charlotte, N.C. with Arthur Smith and the Cracker Jacks. Jim had made recordings with Bill Monroe, Hylo Brown, and Arthur Smith, but now for the first time in 1961, he made two albums under his own name for the Folk Lyric label. Jim began writing music when he was a member of the folk group, The Cumberlands. Recently, Jim played twenty one years at the Old Stable, a restaurant in Bardstown, KY. The feature was good country cooking and Kentucky Style Music.

Compact Discs: Bayou Bluegrass-Jim Smoak and the Louisiana Honeydrippers (Folk Lyric-1961; Arhoolie-1972 & 2002)  Bridging The Gap-The Cumberlands (Copper Creek-2003) Carolina Boy-Jim Smoak (Copper Creek-2004) The Orange Blossom Special-Jim Smoak (Round O Records-2007) This Heart Of Mine-Jim Smoak (Round O Records-2012)  Smoak House Jam (Round O Records 2013)

Bayou Bluegrass-Jim Smoak & the Louisiana Honeydrippers is now on SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS.