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JimmyJukebox enables you to: 1) Download wonderful bluegrass, classical, jazz and early rock music; and, 2) Play it and your other music.

JimmyJukebox plays MP3/OGG songs in random order. You can pause/unpause a playing song, skip a song, or quit. By default, JimmyJukebox will play all .mp3, .ogg, .flac and .wav files in your ~/Music directory tree (including subdirectories). You can specify a different top music directory by passing a directory name as a command line parameter (example: play_jukebox ~/Music/JAZZ). Or you can pass the name of a text file containing a list of directory names.

JimmyJukebox also enables you to download thousands of great jazz performances by Art Tatum, Artie Shaw, Bennie Moten, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Bix Beiderbecke, Cannonball Adderley, Charlie Christian, Charlie Parker, Clifford Hayes, Coleman Hawkins, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Django Reinhardt, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Fletcher Henderson, Glenn Miller, James P Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, John Coltrane, King Oliver, Les Brown, Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Oscar Peterson, Red Norvo, Scott Joplin, and Sidney Bechet.

You can also download wonderful old classical music performances composed by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Ravel, Scarlatti, Schubert and Vivaldi. (You have my 6-year-old son to thank for the classical music. When JimmyJukebox was all jazz, he asked whether I had any Beethoven. After I added Beethoven and Haydn, I expected he would be pleased. Instead, he asked, "but do you have any Mozart, Vivaldi or Bach?" He even used the German pronunciation of Bach! He attends an awesome school that teaches such things!)

And I'm adding three more truly American inventions:

  1. Bluegrass -- starting with greats Earl Scruggs (and Lester Flatt) and Bill Monroe
  2. Jugband
  3. Folk - Pete Seeger, Simon & Garfunkel
  4. Rock -- starting with The Beach Boys, the Big Bopper, Bill Haley (and The Comets), Buddy Holly (and The Crickets), Carl Perkins, Chubby Checker, Chuck Berry, The Coasters, Curtis Lee, Elvis, The Everly Brothers, The Kingsmen, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Richie Valens, The Righteous Brothers, The Rivieras, The Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, The Supremes, and The Temptations.



  • Playing MP3s requires mplayer, mpg123, mpg321, music123, cvlc, amarok or play (package name: sox)
  • Playing OGG files requires mplayer, ogg123, music123, cvlc, amarok or play (package name: sox)
  • Playing FLAC files requires mplayer, cvlc or play (package name: sox)
  • Playing WAV files requires mplayer, cvlc, aplay or play (package name: sox)
  • Requires the posix-spawn Ruby gem (or spoon gem, if JRuby)
  • On my machine, runs well with 1.9.2-p320 and 1.9.3-p327


  • No additional requirements. The built-in afplay should play MP3, OGG, FLAC and WAV files. (When I finally tried running this on a Mac in Oct 2013, it didn't work, but then I fixed it.)


  • Install the spoon gem (necessary because JRuby doesn't enable fork or run the posix-spawn gem)
  • Runs well on my computer using JRuby, 1.7.1 and 1.7.3.


  • JimmyJukebox has not been tested on Windows and probably will NOT work "as is."
  • You could try running it after installing mplayer


  • Download music:

    • Load all music for an artist: load_jukebox [artist name] (see next section)
    • Load 8 songs for an artist: load_jukebox [artist name] 8 (see next section)
    • Load sample of 20 songs from all genres: load_jukebox sample 20
    • Load sample of 10 songs from a genre: load_jukebox jazz 10 (valid genres: 'banjo' 'bluegrass' 'classical' 'jazz' 'rock')
    • List all artists with their symbols: load_jukebox artists
  • Play downloaded music:

    • Play artist: play_jukebox [artist code] (see next section)
    • Play all music in default directory tree ("~/Music"): play_jukebox
    • Play music in user-specified directory tree: play_jukebox [top directory name]


Warning: Downloading every available song would consume 15GB of your hard drive. At last count, the 2,222 jazz songs take up 7.3 GB (~ 3.3 MB/song). The roughly 657 classical performances also take up 6 GB (~ 9.1 MB/piece). The 243 bluegrass songs take up 822 MB (~ 3.4 MB/song). And the 126 rock songs are about 420 MB (~ 3.3 MB/song).

To download a limited number of songs by an artist, add the number of songs you want after the artist's initials. For example, to download just 15 pieces by Beethoven (lvb), type:

Beethoven:                       "load_jukebox lvb 15"

To download all songs by an artist, use the following commands:

Earl Scruggs:                    "load_jukebox es"    ( 88 songs)
Bill Monroe:                     "load_jukebox mon"   (155 songs)
Hot Buttered Rum String Band     "load_jukebox hbrsb" ( 10 songs)

Bach:                            "load_jukebox jsb"   (153 songs)
Beethoven:                       "load_jukebox lvb"   ( 49 songs)
Brahms:                          "load_jukebox jb"    ( 78 songs)
Chopin:                          "load_jukebox fc"    ( 47 songs)
Debussy:                         "load_jukebox deb"   ( 43 songs)
Handel:                          "load_jukebox hand"  ( 90 songs)
Haydn:                           "load_jukebox h"     ( 47 songs)
Mendelssohn:                     "load_jukebox m"     ( 57 songs)
Mozart:                          "load_jukebox wam"   (141 songs)
Ravel:                           "load_jukebox mr"    ( 33 songs)
Domenico Scarlatti:              "load_jukebox scar"  ( 72 songs)
Schubert:                        "load_jukebox fs"    ( 38 songs)
Vivaldi:                         "load_jukebox v"     ( 52 songs)

James Taylor:                    "load_jukebox jt"    ( 20 songs)
Pete Seeger:                     "load_jukebox ps"    ( 34 songs)
Simon & Garfunkel:               "load_jukebox sg"    ( 42 songs)

Art Tatum:                       "load_jukebox at"    (168 songs)
Artie Shaw:                      "load_jukebox as"    (580 songs)
Bebop (collection):              "load_jukebox bebop" ( 73 songs)
Bennie Moten:                    "load_jukebox bm"    (107 songs)
Benny Goodman:                   "load_jukebox bg"    (401 songs)
Billie Holiday:                  "load_jukebox bh"    ( 63 songs)
Bix Beiderbecke:                 "load_jukebox bb"    ( 95 songs)
Cannonball Adderley:             "load_jukebox ca"    (  7 songs)
Charlie Christian:               "load_jukebox cc"    ( 56 songs)
Charlie Parker:                  "load_jukebox cp"    ( 52 songs) [ has apparently removed many of these]
Clifford Hayes Jug Blowers:      "load_jukebox chjb"  ( 15 songs)
Coleman Hawkins:                 "load_jukebox ch"    ( 28 songs)
Count Basie:                     "load_jukebox cb"    ( 44 songs)
Dave Brubeck:                    "load_jukebox bru"   ( 30 songs)
Dexter Gordon:                   "load_jukebox dex"   ( 20 songs)
Dixieland (various artists):     "load_jukebox dx"    ( 12 songs)
Dizzy Gillespie:                 "load_jukebox dg"    (  3 songs)
Django Reinhardt:                "load_jukebox dr"    ( 75 songs)
Duke Ellington:                  "load_jukebox de"    (  9 songs) [ has apparently removed hundreds previously in the jukebox]
Earl Hines:                      "load_jukebox eh"    ( 98 songs)
Fletcher Henderson:              "load_jukebox fh"    (158 songs)
Glenn Miller:                    "load_jukebox gm"    (211 songs)
James P Johnson:                 "load_jukebox jj"    (  8 songs)
Jay Jay Johnson:                 "load_jukebox jjj"   ( 23 songs)
Jelly Roll Morton:               "load_jukebox jrm"   (193 songs)
Jazz medleys (various):          "load_jukebox jm"    ( 13 songs) [some are long radio broadcasts]
John Coltrane:                   "load_jukebox jc"    ( 49 songs)
King Oliver:                     "load_jukebox ko"    ( 60 songs)
Les Brown:                       "load_jukebox lb"    ( 41 songs)
Lionel Hampton:                  "load_jukebox lh"    (148 songs)
Louis Armstrong:                 "load_jukebox la"    (168 songs)
Miles Davis:                     "load_jukebox md"    ( 93 songs)
Modern Jazz Quartet:             "load_jukebox mjq"   (  3 songs)
Original Dixieland Jazz Band:    "load_jukebox odjb"  ( 50 songs)
Oscar Peterson:                  "load_jukebox op"    ( 49 songs) [one "song" is > 2 hour performance]
Ragtime (various artists):       "load_jukebox rt"    ( 14 songs)
Red Norvo:                       "load_jukebox rn"    ( 39 songs)
Scott Joplin:                    "load_jukebox sj"    ( 10 songs)
Sidney Bechet:                   "load_jukebox sb"    ( 25 songs)
Thelonious Monk:                 "load_jukebox monk"  (134 songs)

Dixieland (assorted)             "load_jukebox dx"    ( 12 songs)
Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band   "load_jukebox ef"    (  6 songs)
Jack Teagarden's Dixieland Orch  "load_jukebox tea"   ( 70 songs)
Vincent Lopez's Kings of Harmony "load_jukebox kh"    ( 59 songs)

The Beach Boys:                  "load_jukebox beach" ( 78 songs)
The Bee Gees:                    "load_jukebox bgees" ( 26 songs)
The Big Bopper:                  "load_jukebox bop"   ( 21 songs)
Bill Haley & the Comets:         "load_jukebox bhc"   ( 63 songs)
Buddy Holly:                     "load_jukebox holly" ( 57 songs)
Carl Perkins:                    "load_jukebox carl"  ( 89 songs)
Chubby Checker:                  "load_jukebox check" ( 52 songs)
Chuck Berry:                     "load_jukebox berry" (127 songs)
The Coasters:                    "load_jukebox coast" ( 18 songs)
Curtis Lee:                      "load_jukebox cl"    ( 20 songs)
Elvis Presley:                   "load_jukebox e"     (314 songs)
The Everly Brothers:             "load_jukebox eb"    ( 20 songs)
Jerry Lee Lewis:                 "load_jukebox jll"   (260 songs)
Jimi Hendrix:                    "load_jukebox jimi"  ( 61 songs)
The Kingsmen:                    "load_jukebox kings" (  4 songs)
Little Richard:                  "load_jukebox lr"    ( 26 songs)
Michael Jackson:                 "load_jukeox mj"     (  5 songs)
Richie Valens:                   "load_jukebox rv"    (  6 songs)
The Righteous Brothers:          "load_jukebox rb"    ( 33 songs)
The Rivieras:                    "load_jukebox riv"   ( 56 songs)
The Rolling Stones:              "load_jukebox rs"    ( 21 songs) (one is an album)
Roy Orbison:                     "load_jukebox ro"    ( 79 songs)
The Supremes:                    "load_jukebox sup"   (100 songs)
The Temptations:                 "load_jukebox tempt" (100 songs)

Archibald Camp (BANJO):          "load_jukebox acb"   ( 20 songs) (old banjo songs)
Buena Vista Social Club (LATIN): "load_jukebox bvsc"  ( 20 songs)
Jugband (JUGBAND):               "load_jukebox jug"   ( 62 songs)

By default, music will be downloaded to a directory under ~/Music/JAZZ/, like ~/Music/JAZZ/Original_Dixieland_Jazz_Band (and that directory will be created automatically).

To specify a different directory, type the full directory path after load_jukebox, e.g.: load_jukebox "/home/my_name/MyMusic/Jazz/ODJB". Place the directory path in quotation marks if it contains any spaces or other "unusual" characters.


  • By default, JimmyJukebox assumes your music is stored in a directory tree descending from ~/Music

  • By default:

    • Banjo is stored under ~/Music/BANJO
    • Bluegrass is stored under ~/Music/BLUEGRASS
    • Classical is stored under ~/Music/CLASSICAL
    • Folk is stored under ~/Music/FOLK
    • Jazz is stored under ~/Music/JAZZ
    • Jugband is stored under ~/Music/JUGBAND
    • Rock is stored under ~/Music/ROCK
  • To play a random selection of music, type in the command line play_jukebox

    • A song will start playing
    • To skip to the next song, type s
    • To pause the song, type p
    • To restart a paused song, type p
    • To erase the playing song and never hear it again, type e
    • To quit, type "q" or <CTRL>-C
  • To play a random selection of...

    • Banjo: play_jukebox banjo
    • Bluegrass: play_jukebox bluegrass or play_jukebox b
    • Classical: play_jukebox classical or play_jukebox c
    • Folk: play_jukebox folk or play_jukebox f
    • Jazz: play_jukebox jazz or play_jukebox j
    • Jugband: play_jukebox jug
    • Rock: play_jukebox rock or play_jukebox r
  • To play a particular artist, type:

    Art Tatum: "play_jukebox at" Artie Shaw: "play_jukebox as" Bennie Moten: "play_jukebox bm" Haydn: "load_jukebox h" etc.


Method 1 selects just one music directory tree:

  • On the command line, type play_jukebox DIRECTORY_NAME where DIRECTORY_NAME is the path to the top of your music directory tree

  • If your directory name contains characters that must be escaped, you can either escape them or enclose the string in double quotation marks

  • For example:

    • play_jukebox ~/Music/JAZZ
    • play_jukebox ~/Music/The\ Beatles
    • play_jukebox "~/Music/The Beatles"
    • play_jukebox ~/Music/JAZZ/Jack\ Sheedy's\ Dixieland\ Jazz\ Band
    • play_jukebox "~/Music/JAZZ/Jack Sheedy's Dixieland Jazz Band"

Method 2 selects one or more music directory trees:

  • Create a ~/.jimmy_jukebox directory

  • Create one or more files in ~/.jimmy_jukebox named whatever you want but ending in .txt. Each will become a playlist:

    • ~/.jimmy_jukebox/jazz.txt
    • ~/.jimmy_jukebox/rock.txt
    • ~/.jimmy_jukebox/country.txt
    • etc.
  • Inside each file, add a row name for each top-level music directory tree for that playlist. (No need to escape spaces and other frequently escaped characters.) For example, ~/.jimmy_jukebox/rock.txt might contain the following:

    • ~/My_rock_files/The_Beatles
    • ~/My_rock_files/The Eagles
    • /home/my_name/My_rock_files/The_Rolling_Stones
  • To play music stored in the playlist (directory trees) specified in ~/.jimmy_jukebox/jazz.txt, run play_jukebox jazz.txt.


  • Are you running a Windows machine? Solution: Get a real Unix/Linux/Mac machine.

  • Are you running JRuby? Solution: Have you installed the spoon gem?

  • Still having problems? Please let me (j a m e s AT j a m e s l a v i n DOT c o m) know your operating system, Ruby environment and problem. I learned far more about the nuances of fork, exec, system, ``, spawnp and related commands and how they're implemented (differently) on various versions of Ruby than I ever wanted (or imagined possible). In fact, I wasted more time struggling over these glitches than writing JimmyJukebox.


  • Mode for playing only songs by the current artist
  • Mode for playing only songs in the genre of the current song
  • Get more songs by the current artist
  • Favoriting songs and replaying in favorites-only mode
  • Skipping ahead/back within a song (useful for long radio broadcast recordings)


Download music at your own risk. I DO NOT guarantee that any music this program enables you to download is in the public domain, but the music is all from a reputable website (, and most/all of the songs seem to have been uploaded by someone who vouched that they are now in the public domain. Many of the songs are old enough that they are no longer eligible for copyright protection. More recently recorded songs may or may not be in the public domain, but copyright law is very complex, and it is often difficult or impossible to determine whether or not a particular song currently enjoys copyright protection.


Play/pause/skip your MP3/OGG files and easily download great old jazz







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