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Paperback Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass Book

ISBN: 0252073762

ISBN13: 9780252073762

Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

Homegrown Music offers an introductory primer for newcomers to bluegrass and provides a novel perspective for fans already captivated by the music.

Award-winning bluegrass writer Stephanie P. Ledgin writes about topics ranging from the music's predecessors to its innovators to contemporary figures. Interviews with legends like Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band provide candid insights and invaluable eyewitness history...

Customer Reviews

2 ratings

A good bluegrass education primer

This book serves as a good primer for anyone who has been bitten by the O Brother bug and wants to immerse him/herself more deeply into bluegrass music. While Barry Willis' America's Music: Bluegrass has served extremely well as the "Bible" of bluegrass information, its latest edition is dated 1997, and so much has happened with the music genre since then, especially since 2000. Unless one has access to another bluegrass fan, it can be difficult to learn of other artists, dedicated websites and publications, and specialized musical instrument instruction sources. Ms. Ledgin takes the attitude of "Okay, I've seen the movie, bought the soundtrack, I love it, now what?" to make it relatively easy for a recent bluegrass fan to further his/her education. The chapters are pretty much set up as expected. The first few discuss the history and background of bluegrass music, with emphasis on the pioneers. These are followed by chapters on prominent musicians and songwriters, the effect the music has on our culture, its international impact, and discussions on festivals, workshops, and the etiquette of parking-lot jamming. Most of these chapters contain a concluding interview with a notable bluegrass performer discussing relevant matters. Interviewees include Ralph Stanley, Janette Carter, Jim Lauderdale, Earl Scruggs, and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The chapter on prominent musicians is concise but extremely useful. Here each instrument that plays a role in the traditional bluegrass band is discussed, with the three or four most popular players briefly examined, followed by a listing of other influential instrumentalists. The appendices prove to be quite valuable for research on bluegrass. The first, entitled "Twenty-Five Recordings to Jump-Start Your Collection," may stir up some debate among aficionados, but surely stands as a good starting point. Most of the choices lean more towards traditional performers (the list does not include any albums from Nickel Creek, a band that has had a large impact on younger audiences), but does include some newer traditionalists such as King Wilkie. Also in this section is listing of useful and popular videos that cover different aspects of bluegrass music. The other useful appendix deals with all of the useful resources to learn more about the music genre that this book has only touched upon. This includes reference books, museums, publications, broadcasts (including Internet and satellite broadcasts), record labels, schools, and record and musical instrument retail outlets. Since this book is only a few months old, the mailing and web addresses are pretty much current. The text is pretty straightforward and easy to read, and generally gives only brief accounts of various subjects, allowing the reader to pursue further reading in other resources. A brief foreword by Ricky Skaggs serves as a nice touch to an overall enjoyable read for the bluegrass novice. While the price may be a bit steep for the individual, this

An open-minded and objective assessment of bluegrass music

All of us were bluegrass music neophytes at some time in our past. Perhaps a few of us were born into bluegrass, but most of us crossed paths with the genre somewhere along life's road. For journalist and photographer Stephanie Ledgin, it was July, 1975 when the young college graduate went to work as assistant editor of Pickin' magazine. She probably didn't know the difference between the Clinch Mountain Boys and the Clinch Mountain Clan. Or the Blue Grass Boys and Blue Sky Boys. But Ledgin did know that the music grabbed and moved her, and she then spent a couple years in Nashville. Besides Pickin', her work has also appeared in such publications as Bluegrass Unlimited, Acoustic Guitar, Sing Out!, and Bluegrass Now. Now, with nearly three decades of journalism experience under her belt, she has the background, facts and insight to educate today's bluegrass "newbie." Her timing is good as the late-2000 release of the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" has created a resurgence of interest in the genre. She mentions the movie frequently throughout the book. Ledgin gives us an open-minded and objective assessment of bluegrass music, a fabric of our lives which is embedded in popular culture more than we consciously realize. At the same time, she concedes that it's still a "nonmainstream music." Her approach is shared in an enthusiastic personal manner. She wants us to know where to listen to bluegrass, what some recommended albums are, and how to learn to play the music. After defining bluegrass and delving into its origins, the author describes how it has evolved over the years. She explains that the family tree of bluegrass is more like a "forest of tangled roots and branches." Her paragraph descriptions of many bands and artists are good information, but, to a certain extent, they aren't presented chronologically which makes the logical historical threads a bit hard to follow. Ledgin then explores the various instruments of bluegrass. The repertoire of bluegrass is given a cursory discussion of its themes related to love, death, faith and family. Then, some background info about a few key songwriters is presented. Throughout the book, she also includes short interviews with various individuals associated with bluegrass (Ralph Stanley, Janette Carter, Earl Scruggs, Jim Lauderdale, Sierra Hull, John McEuen, Jeff Hanna, Pete Goble and others). The international bluegrass scene, concerts, festivals, jam sessions, workshops and bluegrass in the schools are discussed. Her "completely subjective" list of 25 recordings to jump-start your collection (along with a few videos) barely scratches the surface of the bluegrass cannon, but it offers solid selections. She also includes concise contact info (including Internet website addresses) for magazines, syndicated radio shows, record labels, instruction material, and key organizations. I wish she would've noted the on-line listservs Bgrass-l and the Nwbluegrass Yahoogroup. The 25 photos were all taken by L
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