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Breaking Down Bluegrass:
The Invention of a Genre from Mountain Ballads to Bill Monroe

(Released September 2011)

  by Lorna Dries  


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    Erich Nunn.

    Criticism, Vol. 51, No. 4, Fall 2009, pp. 623-649.

    Considerations of the relationships between black and white musical forms generally operated according to a transparent whitesupremacist logic: if a song, tune, text, scale, or technique appears in both collections of white and black performances, its direction of cultural transmission must be from white to black and not the other way around.90 Irish (or Scottish or Scotch-Irish) music, then, serves as an ethnic wellspring within whiteness, and helps account for the exotic modal and rhythmic elements not only of the folk music of whites but of blacks, as well, at the same time as it denies the possibility that whites could have adopted musical practices originated by African Americans.91 These discussions of the racial provenance of the spirituals and ragtime highlight a problematic of racial and musical identity in which Rodgers and the genre he inaugurated are thoroughly enmeshed. Carrie Rodgers's insistence that Jimmie and his music were Irish, Abbe Niles's bemusement at a white man who sounds black, folk-song collectors' failure to recognize Rodgers's participation in a musical tradition understood as providing transparent access to the nature of the Negro, Lomax's insistence that his African American informant provide him with evidence of racialized musical difference – each of these examples gives voice to the anxiety about the boundaries between white and black that Du Bois identifies (in a later version of The Souls of White Folk) as underlying the discovery of personal whiteness.

  2. Researching Southern Gospel Music in Kentucky and Tennessee

    K. Kehrberg.

    The Bulletin of the Society for American Music, Vol. 35, No. 2, Spring 2009, pp. 17.

    In the early twentieth century, "convention" gospel singing was a widespread pastime in America. Spread through singing schools and songbooks utilizing a seven shape-note system, convention gospel music (also called "southern gospel") became the most popular form of amateur musical engagement in many areas, particularly in rural regions of the southern and southeastern United States.1 Participants gathered regularly to sing at community "singings" and singing conventions, and certain localities could often boast several well-polished church choirs, singing groups, and/or gospel quartets that used convention songbooks (issued each year with new songs) as the basis for their singing. Thanks to their wide use among early radio and recording artists (e.g., string bands, professional quartets, country singers), many convention songs became extremely popular among the national populace as well.

  3. Imagining Home, Nation, World: Appalachia on the Mall

    Emily Satterwhite.

    Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 121, No. 479, Winter 2008, pp. 10-23, 25-34,124.

    This article reads the Smithsonian's annual folklife festival as a cultural product buffeted by changing material conditions and funding constraints as the United States transitioned from a Fordist industrial economy to a post-Fordist information economy. Based upon visitor interviews, promotional materials, and news reports, this article argues that the transition from a national to an international framework reconfigured the role of Appalachia in visitors' imaginations. In 2002, Appalachia represented ideals of "nation" and "home" in contrast to tantalizing and threatening foreign cultures and allowed visitors to entertain the wishful belief that the United States was a simple place peopled by simple denizens innocent of imperial ambitions. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

  4. Country music on location: 'field recording' before Bristol

    Tony Russell.

    Popular Music, Vol. 26, No. 1, Jan 2007, pp. 23-31.

    From 1923 to 1931, record companies based in the northern USA stocked their catalogues of Southern vernacular music, particularly African-American blues and white 'old-time' music, largely with 'location recordings' made in Southern cities such as Atlanta, Memphis and Dallas. These recording trips, which are sometimes characterised as speculative, were in fact partly planned, the uncertainty of discovering recordable new talent offset to some extent by the prior booking of artists with whom the companies had already had success. The evidence for this careful planning, however, has been somewhat obscured by the unscheduled discovery, in Bristol, Tennessee, in 1927, of Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family, whose commercial success and stylistic innovations would have enormous influence on country music. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

  5. Southern History in Periodicals, 2006: A Selected Bibliography


    The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 73, No. 2, May 2007, pp. 363-412.

    Entries under each heading are arranged alphabetically by author; spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained from the original. Voices of the Storm [special issue on Hurricane Katrina, includes arts., memoirs, poems, graphic novella, photographs, rev. essay, book revs.]. No "Graver Danger": Black Anticommunism, the Communist Party, and the Race Question [with four responses and a rejoinder]. BEHNKEN, BRIAN D. "Count on Me": Reverend M. L. Price of Texas, a Case Study in Civil Rights Leadership. BLANTON, CARLOS K. George I. Sánchez, Ideology, and Whiteness in the Making of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, 1930-1960. Regional Identity, Black Barbers, and the African American Tradition of Entrepreneurialism. The Origins of the Tobacco Queen during the Great Depression.

  6. "As Far From Secular, Operatic, Rag-time, and Jig Melodies As Is Possible": Religion and the Resurgence of Interest in The Sacred Harp, 1895-1911

    Duncan Vinson.

    Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 119, No. 474, Fall 2006, pp. 413-443,504.

    Since its publication in 1844, the shape-note tunebook The Sacred Harp has primarily found use in the nonsectarian venue of the singing convention. Around the turn of the twentieth century, however, several promoters of Sacred Harp singing tried to identify the singing tradition more closely with impulses toward religious revival within Southern Protestantism. This identification was one of the factors that fueled a revival of interest in Sacred Harp singing itself during these years. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

  7. Give Me That Old-Time Music ... or Not

    Larry J. Griffin.

    Southern Cultures, Vol. 12, No. 4, 2006, pp. 98-107.

    Due to a whole host of factors unfolding over the past century—the migration of millions of southerners to cities in the North, technological innovations such as the radio, record player, and TV, and shrewd corporate packaging—"southern music" of virtually all flavors was long ago transmuted into America's music and then quickly integrated into much of the world's music. Coupled with the mainstreaming of southern culture in everything from race to religion since the 1960s, the nationalization and globalization of music first cultivated in southern soil raises interesting questions about our national tastes in music, about the audience for southern music, and about racial and regional patterns in music preferences.

  8. Repertoire Standards: Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives – Homegrown: Programming Ideas and Study Resources for Ethnic and Cultural Musical Traditions of the United States

    Lawrence Burnett.

    Choral Journal, Vol. 47, No. 1, Jul 2006, pp. 42-43.

    The second article in a series on choral music of the US focuses on Shaker music, southern Appalachian traditional music, and old time music, presenting multiple resources that provide historical, programming, and performance information on these musical traditions.

  9. Searching for silenced voices in Appalachian music

    Deborah J. Thompson.

    GeoJournal, Vol. 65, No. 1-2, 2006, pp. 67.

    Music is extremely important in representations of place in the Appalachian Region of the United States, where ballads and banjo tunes become musical signposts in popular and academic culture to mark the region's Otherness. Embedded in the discourse about the region and its music are silences about groups of people that do not fit dominant expectations of authenticity or belonging, the Others within. This essay serves to highlight some historical contributions of these groups, the social processes that have silenced them, and directions for future research to amplify those voices. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

  10. Will the circle be unbroken: Country music in America

    Alanna [ed ]. Nash, Paul [ed ]. Kingsbury, Willie [foreword] Nelson and Kyle [afterword] Young.

    New York, United States: New York, 2006,

    The following contributions are cited separately in RILM: Peter COOPER, Pocketful of gold: Country music in the age of plenty (RILM 2006-20026); Colin ESCOTT, All shook up: The rock revolution and the Nashville sound (RILM 2006-20022); Chet FLIPPO, Are you sure Hank done it this way? Country music 1972-1982 (RILM 2006-20024); Rich KIENZLE, When two worlds collide: Country music in the 1960s (RILM 2006-20023); Bill C. MALONE, Turkey in the straw: The roots of commercial country music (RILM 2006-20015); Michael MCCALL, Tell me 'bout the good old days: Tradition and change in the 1980s (RILM 2006-20025); Nolan PORTERFIELD, Country goes to town: The emergence of an industry, 1946-1954 (RILM 2006-20020); Ronnie PUGH, No Depression in heaven: Country music in the 1930s (RILM 2006-20017); John W. RUMBLE, Country music on the march: The World War II years (RILM 2006-20019); Charlie SEEMANN, Happy trails: The rise (and renaissance) of cowboy music (RILM 2006-20018); Jon WEISBERGER, Rocky road blues: Bluegrass music's up and down journey (RILM 2006-20021); Charles K. WOLFE, Red hot and rarin' to go: The commercial beginnings, 1922-1930 (RILM 2006-20016).

  11. Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America

    Alex Greer.

    The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, Vol. 30, No. 4, Winter 2005 2005, pp. 531-531-536.

    Greer reviews Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America by James Webb.

  12. Principal Themes: Community Music Makers: The Music of the Sacred Harp

    Carolyn Neumann.

    Canadian Music Educator, Vol. 46, No. 4, Summer 2005 2005, pp. 32-32-34.

    Sacred harp singing, a form of music that traces its roots to the mid-nineteenth century, is discussed. Sacred harp music is based on the solfa singing found in rural American during the 1800s, and still uses similar notation. Sacred harp singing is considered a democratic process, where every member of the ensemble has a hand in leading the singing. One of the reasons people are drawn to this type of singing is that the emphasis is placed on the participation, and not necessarily the performance.

  13. A Resisting Performance of an Appalachian Traditional Murder Ballad: Giving Voice to "Pretty Polly"

    Lydia Hamessley.

    Women & Music, Vol. 9, No. 10907505, Dec 31, 2005, pp. 13.

    The text of "Pretty Polly" can be traced to two English sources, Child ballad #4, "Lady Isabel and the Elfin Knight," and the British broadside ballad "The Gosport Tragedy," which is also known as "The Cruel Ship's Carpenter."(9) In both ballads a young woman is lured by a man to go away with him on the promise of marriage. When the elf/man in "Lady Isabel and the Elfin Knight" tells Isabel to take her clothes off so he can drown her in the river without ruining her fine garments, she asks that he turn his back out of respect for her modesty. When he does this she shoves him into the river, drowning him and saving herself. Things do not go so well in "The Gosport Tragedy" for the young pregnant Molly, or sometimes Polly, who is lured away, murdered, and buried by her lover. Sometime later, when he is aboard ship, her ghost, carrying the ghost of her baby, appears on the ship, and he is revealed as a murderer. The song "Pretty Polly," like many American versions of British ballads, is a condensation of the text's origins. The supernatural elements are typically stripped away, leaving only the broad outline of the formulaic murder plot and incorporating a couple of stark new lines and images: "a new-dug grave with a spade lying by" and "I dug on your grave the biggest part of last night." In American versions the woman's name is fairly consistently Polly, and her murderer's is Willie. The form of most American versions is also abbreviated — the typical four-line stanza of the British ballad is often reduced to a two-line stanza with one line repeated, resulting in an AAB form.(10) The simple duple-meter tunes of "Pretty Polly" also differ from the compound duple-meter ones of the British models. Finally, American performances of this tune were often accompanied by the fiddle or banjo during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and later by the guitar.(11) "Pretty Polly" was one that Mama told us we could sing. Now "Wild Bill Jones," she put her foot down on that, and "Little Cory" and "Frankie and Johnnie" 'cause of drinking, and wine drinking, you know, and moonshining mentioned in some of 'em. And she said we could sing "Pretty Polly," and she mentioned some other old songs. And I said, "Well Mama, I don't know why you think those songs that's got whiskey and drinking in 'em, that don't mean we have to go out and bring it in here in the house and drink it, that just mean we be singing about it. Everybody else does." She said, "Yeah, you want to be like that sorry bunch that lives down the road, all the women down there a-pickin' the banjar and singing them old drunkard songs and," she said, "the men a-making rot-gut moonshine." And she said, "Now that's alright maybe for the boys, but," she said, "now I don't want you girls to sing that. Now 'Pretty Polly' is one, there's you a good love song." I said, "Mama, 'Pretty Polly' has got a murder in it. That man killed Pretty Polly. Is it better to kill somebody or to drink?" And she said, "I think it's better to kill somebody"; she said, "He probably wouldn't a killed her if he hadn't been drunk."(31)

  14. Inventing That "Old-Timey" Style: Southern Authenticity in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

    Sean Chadwell.

    Journal of Popular Film & Television, Vol. 32, No. 1, Spring 2004, pp. 2-9.

    Joel and Ethan Coen's film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" addresses the idea of cultural authenticity in several ways – most notably in the use of diegetic and nondiegetic music – to suggest that the idea of the cultural heritage of the American South is itself constantly evolving and constantly new. The discussion focuses primarily on the music of the film and the way in which the discourse authenticating this music as "old time" manages to elide the connections between African American and white Southern cultures.

  15. John Barleycorn: The Evolution of a Folk-song Family

    Peter Wood.

    Folk Music Journal, Vol. 8, No. 4, 2004, pp. 438-455.

    Analysis of the early ancestors of the popular folk song 'John Barleycorn' reveals a family of songs, each appearing to be a separate positive act of re-composition based on a common theme. Between the mid sixteenth and early eighteenth centuries, at least six separate songs enjoyed circulation in either Scotland or England, until the 'final flowering' in the song we know today. This was of such a quality that it has continued to spread, thrive and diversify by re-creation without another act of major re-composition for a further two hundred and fifty years. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

  16. Obituary: Alan Lomax (1915-2002)

    E. David Gregory.

    Folk Music Journal, Vol. 8, No. 4, 2004, pp. 548-557.

    Folk song collector, singer, and musician Alan Lomax died on July 19, 2002. An extensive eulogy remembers his career, his education, his legacy, and more.

  17. Predicting Black Musical Innovation and Integration: The 1850 Mance Index for Appalachia

    Bob Eagle.

    Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1, Spring 2004, pp. 73-90.

    An index is presented that seeks to quantify the amount of black culture, by Appalachian city, using as one source the 1850 census.

  18. Thrills and Miracles: Legends of Lloyd Chandler1

    Carl Lindahl.

    Journal of Folklore Research, Vol. 41, No. 2/3, May-Dec 2004, pp. 133-171.

    Even though Lloyd Chandler has been dead for twenty-six years, his song continues to exert an intense and varied power. You may recognize the lyrics quoted above as part of "O Death," Ralph Stanley's Grammy-winning song from O Brother, Where Art Thou?—to my knowledge the only old-time mountain song, sung mountain-style, ever to have won a mainstream Grammy. Stanley and others who have recorded it claim the song is traditional, and the received wisdom of folklorists traces it back to British broadsides. The children of Lloyd Chandler swear, to the contrary, that their father composed the song in 1916. It was in the context of investigating their claim that I recorded the legends and recollections quoted here. I entered the inquiry a total skeptic, but in the past two years thousands of hours of research by several experts have not found one piece of evidence that would disprove the Chandlers' claim. If anyone who reads this has any evidence or expertise to add to this improbable but so far not unsuccessful cause, I urge you to share it with the family.


    John A. Burrison.

    Studies in the Literary Imagination, Vol. 36, No. 2, Fall 2003, pp. 1-24.

    Burrison looks at a series of imported cultural features within the southern states of the US and at how each has contributed to a distinctive regional mix while retaining at the same time a meaningful ethnic, racial, or even family identity. Among other things, he cites that "Creolization" is a blending process, and certain examples of linguistic usage, of cookery, and of folk art are adduced in evidence of this.

  20. Vox pop: Reviving the folk revival

    JoAnne M. Mancini.

    Common-place, Vol. 3, No. 2, 01 2003.

    Meditations on the reception of U.S. old-time music from the 1950s to the Coen brothers' O brother, where art thou? (2000).

  21. Everything old is new again: Songcatcher and the old-time music revival

    Walter Nelson.

    ECHO: A music-centered journal, Vol. 4, No. 2, 10 2002.

    Discusses folk revivalism and reviews recent CD releases, in particular David Mansfield's soundtrack to Maggie Greenwald's 2000 film Songcatcher. Other recordings discussed include Before the blues: The early American black music scene as captured on classic recordings from the 1920s and 30s, Am I born to die: An Appalachian songbook by Mason Brown and Chipper Thompson; Down from the mountain: Live concert performances by the artists from "O brother, where art thou?", O brother, where art thou?, "O brother": The story continues, and Songcatcher II: The tradition that inspired the movie.

  22. Traditional Music in Tinseltown in 2002: What Does It All Mean?

    Randy Pitts.

    Old-Time Herald, Vol. 8, No. 5, 2002, pp. 28-31, 52.

    Thoroughly examines the success of the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" film soundtrack. Explains that the soundtrack is made up of very old recordings of bluegrass and old-time musicians mixed with a few originals from contemporary bluegrass and old-time musicians. Describes the work that producer T-Bone Burnett put into the recording, crediting his guiding hand, good taste, musical judgement, and appropriate song choices as obvious reasons for the soundtrack's success. Opines that the time was also right for such a recording to be released to a mass audience. Analyzes signs that a traditional music renaissance was due.

  23. Another History of Bluegrass: The Segregation of Popular Music in the United States, 1820-1900(1)

    Allen Farmelo.

    Popular Music and Society, Vol. 25, No. 1/2, Spring 2001, pp. 179-203.

    The relevance of the nineteenth century to the bluegrass lies party in elaborating the sociomusicological connections between nineteenth-century popular music and bluegrass today. Farmelo argues that historical narratives can play a role in the social politics of today's musical subcultures because historical narratives often form the basis of one's sense of identification with, and inclusion in, a musical scene. To initiate this argument, two current historical narratives of bluegrass which support the notion that is has always been a white music are detailed.

  24. Arts: American high: The Coen brothers' last movie was a letdown at the box office. But it has breathed new life into old-time music

    Michael Ellison.

    The Guardian, No. 02613077, Jun 18, 2001, pp. 15-2.15.

    Stranger still, the event was the concert of the CD of the [Coen] brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou? The Coens don't produce blockbuster films and this was by no means their most successful movie, yet the soundtrack has sold more than 1.5m CDs and has kicked off the sort of low-key craze last provoked by the Buena Vista Social Club. A second CD, called Down from the Mountain, by the performers from the O Brother soundtrack will be released next month, and a film of the same name has just opened in Manhattan. The movie is based on a concert last year at the Ryman auditorium in Nashville and was shot by a team that included DA Pennebaker, famed for his Bob Dylan documentary Don't Look Back. The cycle of taste will do its damage in time, but for now its influence is positive. A movie called Song-catcher opens soon, with a soundtrack of traditional American music; Dolly Parton has just released an acoustic album, Little Sparrow, to follow her bluegrass record The Grass Is Blue; Folkways has put out a pair of live CDs from the early 1960s by the Country Gentleman, with a doff of the cap to O Brother in the sleeve notes; and country singer Patty Loveless has a bluegrass CD out this month.

  25. Banjos, biopics, and compilation scores: The movies go country

    David Brackett.

    American Music, Vol. 19, No. 3, Fall 2001, pp. 247-290.

    The films that used country music after 1970 do not fit into a single genre, but rather employ a range of generic conventions that affect the role of music in the films. While Brackett explores how specific films both mobilize the discursive web in which country music is embedded and situate country music within a constellation of musical meaning that may be unique to that film, these methods of meaning production are constrained and controlled by the generic conventions of a given film.

  26. Old-time Kentucky fiddle tunes

    Jeff Todd [author] Titon.

    Lexington, KY, USA: Lexington, 2001,

    For years fiddlers and folklorists have prized the old-time fiddle tunes from Kentucky. Many of the most outstanding country music artists hail from the state, including Bill Monroe, widely regarded as the founder of bluegrass music. Even Aaron Copland lifted, note-for-note, a Kentucky fiddler's performance of Bonaparte's Retreat for his ballet Rodeo. That tune and nearly 200 others are transcribed here, most for the first time. They are taken from recordings of Kentucky fiddlers, many of whom were born before 1900, practitioners of a style of playing now extremely rare. Titon places the tunes in their historical context, provides biographical sketches of the performers, and offers suggestions for contemporary fiddlers who want to use the book for performance.

  27. The Relationship Between Musical Complexity and Liking in Jazz and Bluegrass

    Mark G. Orr.

    Psychology of Music, Vol. 29, No. 2, 2001, pp. 102-127.

    Experimental participants judged the complexity and liking of short pieces of music created by professional musicians instructed to improvise at different levels of complexity. A first experiment tested whether an inverted-U shaped relationship was present between perceived complexity and liking for jazz and bluegrass when each style was presented separately. A second experiment replicated the findings from the first experiment under interleaved presentation conditions. Results support the inverted-U shaped relationship between perceived complexity and liking for bluegrass but not for jazz. It is possible that the relationship between liking and perceived musical complexity varies across musical styles.

  28. Belief and the American folk

    Patrick B. Mullen.

    Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 113, No. 448, Spring 2000, pp. 119-143.

    The history of folklore scholarship has come under increasing scrutiny in terms of cultural representations of the folk, but the role of folk belief in the construction of the folk has not been thoroughly examined. An investigation into American folklore scholarship of the last 100 years reveals that folk belief has been used to justify both romantic images of the folk as wise and natural and scientific rationalistic images of the folk as pathological, with complex combinations of the two extremes.

  29. Bluegrass and "White Trash": A Case Study Concerning the Name "Folklore" and Class Bias

    Jeannie B. Thomas and Doug Enders.

    Journal of Folklore Research, Vol. 37, No. 1, Jan-Apr 2000, pp. 23-52, 91-92, 95.

    A case study concerning the word "folklore" and class bias is presented. It is explained that the word "folklore" can conjure stereotypical and class-biased images for some who hear them. This attitude is problematic because it is uninformed about the total realities of the field and is rooted in cultural elitism. It is argued that the problem can be addressed, in part, by acknowledging that some folklorists do study just the kinds of things that other folklorists may try to distance themselves from. Doug Enders' experience as a member of a particularly stereotyped folk group – a not-so-good bluegrass band – is examined.

  30. Country roads, hollers, coal towns, and much more: A teacher's guide to teaching about Appalachia

    William T. Owens.

    The Social Studies, Vol. 91, No. 4, Jul/Aug 2000, pp. 178-186.

    A teaching guide for helping young people discuss the distinctive cultural features of the Appalachian region is presented. Students can learn about urban and rural communities and assess the influence brought by easy access to modern media.

  31. Mr. Lomax Meets Professor Kittredge

    Roger D. Abrahams.

    Journal of Folklore Research, Vol. 37, No. 2/3, May-Dec 2000, pp. 99-118, 229, 233.

    In a paper on John Avery Lomax's work, the author asserts that it is instructive to consider Lomax's life and work within the scholarly traditions and ideological currents of his times, including a romantic national search for a representative American bard, a literary tradition of recording and presenting vernacular creativity for a general audience, and an environment that emphasized character development and self-instruction on the basis of self-improvement. The author suggests that Lomax benefitted from scholarly patronage, and his subsequent public sponsorship of African American singers can be seen as an extension of the system under which he achieved national prominence as the chronicler of American vernacular song traditions.

  32. "USA: Bluegrass and old-time—High an' lonesome"

    World music: The rough guide. II: Latin and North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific

    Nick Barraclough.

    London, England: Rough Guides, 2000. pp. 536-551

    Hillbilly, or old-time music, shares much the same roots as the blues—except that it was the music of the white poor of the Appalachian mountains, rather than the black poor of the South. It has long been associated with traditional, rural America, and it was from these fiddle and banjo tunes that country music developed.


    David Atkinson.

    Journal of Folklore Research, Vol. 36, No. 1, Jan-Apr 1999, pp. 1-29,108.

    Although there is no shortage of murders in the corpus of Child ballads, few of them are concealed with any great success. Once the lord returns home to find his wife and baby son murdered in "Lamkin" (Child 93) , little time elapses before Lamkin and the false nurse are hanged or burned. The fact that Foodrage killed King Honor is kept from the king's son in "Fause Foodrage" (Child 89), but only long enough to allow him to grow up sufficiently to avenge his father's death. In "Edward" (Child 13) the fact that one brother murdered another is elicited by their mother's questioning, which leads inexorably to the admission of the horrible deed. In instances like these there is nothing magical about the way in which the murder comes to light: the evidence is all too clear, and the point is not so much that murder cannot be concealed but simply that it is a tragic act that has certain inevitable consequences.

  34. Pick of the Doc

    Hugh Gregory.

    Folk roots, Vol. 21, No. 6:198, 12 1999, pp. 29-43.

    A profile of Doc Watson, an influential guitarist and vocalist who plays in traditional American idioms including old time music, gospel, blues, and adapted fiddle tunes.

  35. The social world of semiprofessional bluegrass musicians

    Kenneth D. Tunnell and Stephen B. Groce.

    Popular Music and Society, Vol. 22, No. 4, Winter 1998, pp. 55-77.

    Tunnell and Groce explicate the existence and influence of norms, deviance, family and community—critically important dimensions of bluegrass culture—among bluegrass musicians themselves. They also highlight some commonalities with and differences between bluegrass musicians and performers of other types of popular music, particularly jazz and rock and roll.

  36. Factlore, fakelore, or folklore: Sorting through folk song origins


    The Social Studies, Vol. 88, No. 4, Jul/Aug 1997, pp. 181-185.

    Tips are presented on how to find background information on folk songs and their meanings.

  37. Massification revisited: Country music and demography

    Maria Elizabeth Grabe.

    Popular Music and Society, Vol. 21, No. 4, Winter 1997, pp. 63-84.

    The massification hypothesis places emphasis on the role of the mass media in homogenizing its audience. Country music and demography are discussed.

  38. Bluegrass music and its misguided representation of Appalachia

    Stephen Sweet.

    Popular Music and Society, Vol. 20, No. 3, Fall 1996, pp. 37-51.

    Sweet examines bluegrass music and the role it plays in shaping understanding of life in Appalachia. Sweet offers an assessment of how bluegrass music potentially contributes to the oppressive social relations in this historically poor region of the US.

  39. The seven themes of music geography

    Peter H. Nash and George O. Carney.

    Canadian Geographer, Vol. 40, No. 1, Spring 1996, pp. 69-74.

    Seven major themes are outlined in the formation of music geography. A significant body of research has been published in this area during the past 25 years.

  40. "We always tried to be good people": Respectability, Crazy Water Crystals, and hillbilly music on the air, 1933-1935

    Pamela Grundy.

    The Journal of American History, Vol. 81, No. 4, Mar 1995, pp. 1591.

    From the summer of 1933 to the fall of 1935, radio advertisements of the Crazy Water Crystals Co filled the airwaves around Charlotte. The hillbilly music that made up the radio shows sponsored by the popular laxative helped ease the pain of economic troubles for thousands of hard-pressed listeners.

  41. The Southern Diaspora and the Urban Dispossessed: Demonstra


    The Journal of American History, Vol. 82, No. 1, Jun 1995, pp. 111.

    Historians have been slow to make use of the Census Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS) that have been issued in the last decade. The use of Census PUMS—now available for every census since 1850—to clarify old debates and open new avenues for social-historical research is examined, with respect to the migration of Southern whites and blacks who left the South after WWII.

  42. Traveling the high way home: Ralph Stanley and the world of traditional bluegrass music

    John [author] Wright.

    Urbana, IL, USA: Urbana, 1993,

    A collection of 21 essays on the social and geographical aspects of bluegrass music as exemplified by Ralph Stanley. A biographical sketch of Stanley is included.

  43. Bluegrass breakdown: The making of the old southern sound

    Robert [author] Cantwell.

    Urbana, IL, USA: Urbana, 1984,

    Explores various aspects of bluegrass music, including its origins, instruments, vocal styles, chief exponents (emphasizing Bill Monroe), and history. Relates the development of bluegrass to the general Appalachian culture, the folk-music revival, minstrel shows, and other indigenous movements. A reprint edition is cited as RILM 1992-557. An excerpt concerning Bill Monroe is cited as RILM 2000-12841.


    Phil Gailey.

    New York Times, No. 03624331, Jun 5, 1983, pp. A.10.

    The Carters were simple mountain people who performed at church socials, community gatherings and in parlors until Ralph Peer, a talent scout for the Victor recording label, discovered them in 1927. At their first recording session, they sat down in front of a single microphone in a warehouse in Bristol, Tenn., and sang "'Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow.'" Douglas B. Green, a country music historian, in writing about them summed it up: '"The Carters' music was as haunting, mournful and beautiful as the Appalachians from which it came.'" By the time The Carter Family broke up in 1942, with A. P. returning to Maces Springs to open a country store and with [Maybelle] forming a new Carter Family with her three daughters, they had recorded about 300 songs, including such classics as '"Wildwood Flower," "Wabash Cannonball," "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," and "Gold Watch and Chain." Another dependable source of traditional country music is the state-run Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Ark., a village of 2,500 about 100 miles from Little Rock. "The music we have here," said Joel Breeding, the center's director, "is what the Grand Ole Opry was 25 years ago. We're dedicated to preserving the music that was written and copyrighted before 1940." Although the center features some big-name performers, it draws mostly on the talents of local mountain people, men and women whose music was passed down to them over the generations.



    The North American Review (1821-1940), VOL.CCXXII., NO. 829, Dec 1925 - Feb 1926, pp. 246.

    SECTIONALISM is to be regretted. There is but one way in which it can be eliminated, and that is through mutual understanding and knowledge. As the country becomes more homogeneous industrially, sectional misunderstandings will be obliterated. Many writers seem to have vague ideas that tremendous forces are at work in the South, yet do not seem to understand them. It is astonishing how little people know about the South. Huxley once said that the most beautiful hypothesis could be slain by an ugly fact. Now the facts, ugly or otherwise, must...



    Bulletin of the American Geographical Society of New York (1901-1915), 1910, pp. 561.

    In one of the most progressive and productive countries of the world, and in that section of the country which has had its civilization and its wealth longest, we find a large area where the people are still living the frontier life of the backwoods, where the civilization is that of the eighteenth century, where the people speak the English of Shakespeare's time, where the large majority of the inhabitants have never seen a steamboat or a railroad, where money is as scarce as in colonial days, and all trade is barter.