Jim Varsos (born 1952 in Indiana), better known as Hobo Jim, is an American folk singer-songwriter. He is one of the most popular guitar players in Alaska, playing frequently at small venues across the state. In 1994, Hobo Jim was named Alaska's official balladeer.
Varsos was raised in Madison, Wisconsin, where he began playing the guitar at the age of 12. He hitchhiked to Nashville after some time in college, hoping to make it as a country musician. After spending time hitchhiking and freight riding around the United States, he made his way to Alaska, where he stayed. His songs are primarily regional and occupational songs, focusing on Alaska's commercial fishermen, loggers, and miners. Perhaps the best known of these songs commemorates the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
As of 1989, Varsos lived part-time in Nashville, where he worked with publisher Pat Higdon, singer Russell Smith, and writer Rory Bourke, among others. His song "The Rock", which he co-wrote with Smith, has been recorded by Etta James and George Jones; he also co-wrote the Janis Ian song "Empty".
On May 5, 2018 Hobo Jim received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
- Thunderfoot (1982)
- Lost and Dyin' Breed (1984)
- Where Legends Are Born (1986)
- Collection (1994)
- Wilderness Way (1996)
- Woodsmoke (2004)
- My Wild and Wolfen Ways (2015)
- Alden, Grant. "Hobo Jim". In MusicHound folk: the essential album guide. Visible Ink (1998). ISBN 9781578590377.
- "Copyright registration: The Iditarod Trail Song". United States Copyright Office. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- "Hobo Jim is back". Anchorage Daily News. August 17, 1986.
- Peter Jenkins (2002). Looking for Alaska. Macmillan. p. 377. ISBN 978-0-312-30289-4.
- Tunseth, Matt (March 24, 2010). "Hobo Jim homeless again — Musician bids BJ's Lounge goodbye after 25 years". Redoubt Reporter. Soldotna, Alaska. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- Thornburgh, Nathan (August 30, 2008). "Where Palin made her name". Time.
- Delaney, Kelly (September 1, 1989). "Hobo Jim Honors Loggers With Song". American Songwriter.
- "Love's Been Rough on Me". Allmusic.com. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- "The Rock". Allmusic.com. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- "Hunger". Janisian.com. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- Granger, Erin UAF to award honorary doctorate degrees, Meritorious Award at graduation Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, April 23, 2018
- Foster, David (July 30, 1985). "Scholars race with Eskimos for artifacts". Schenectady Gazette. Associated Press. p. 32.