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In the 1960s and 1970s, Randy Wood was a forerunner in the vintage instrument industry. Known as the instrument repairman to the stars, the list of Wood's clients reads like a Hall of Fame roster: Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Emmylou Harris, Billy Gibbons, Bill Monroe, Keith Richards, Roy Acuff, Ricky Skaggs, and Hank Williams Jr. . . . to name a few. In Randy Wood: The Lore of the Luthier, Daniel Wile traces the life and work of a man who quietly influenced a hidden history of bluegrass and country music. In his twenties, Wood vowed to avoid complacency in his work. What started simply as a quest to find fulfillment turned into a career that has shaped a generation of musicians, professional and amateur alike. Through his incredible gift for lutherie, Wood brought cherished pre-WWII instruments back to life, many of which were considered beyond repair. He crafted his own instruments as well, based on what he learned from vintage instruments, and these instruments found their way into the hands of some of the most renowned musicians, thanks in part to Wood's strategic location in Nashville during the resurgence of country music in the 1970s. Humble, unassuming, and unfazed by the presence of celebrities, Wood has spent his life devoted to building and repairing stringed instruments. Wood also built community. After tiring of big-city Nashville, he retreated to the Georgia coast, where his home shop became a hub of bluegrass activity. He eventually opened a new shop near Savannah, where a new generation of friends and strangers can come in, visit, and pick a little. Randy's stories, complemented with those of his friends and family, create a compelling picture of a modest man with a talent for his craft, a genuine care for people, and the courage to follow his passion.
In the past fifty years, the bodhrAn, or traditional Irish circular frame drum, has undergone a rapid evolution in development. Traditionally, it is a shallow drum ranging from ten to twenty-six inches in diameter, covered in goatskin on the top (or drum) side and open on the other. Unlike any other instrument associated with Irish traditional music, the bodhrAn has been dramatically altered by its confrontation with modern instrument design, performance techniques, and musical practice. Colin Harte's The BodhrAn: Experimentation, Innovation, and the Traditional Irish Frame Drum presents a definitive history of the bodhrAn from its early origins to its present-day resurgence in Irish American folk music. The bodhrAn has global roots and bears many characteristics of older drums from northern Africa and the Middle East. Harte picks up on these basic similarities and embarks on an engaging tour of the instrument's historical and organological development, gradual evolution in playing styles, and more recent history of performative practice. Drawing from a host of interviews over a multi-year period with participants primarily located in Europe and North America, this work provides a platform for multiple perspectives regarding the bodhrAn. Participants include bodhrAn makers, professional performers, educators, amateur musicians, historians, and enthusiasts. Growing out of rich ethnographic interviews, this book serves as the definitive reference for understanding and navigating the developments in the bodhrAn's history, organology, performance practices, and repertoire.
Canada's Prince Edward Island is home to one of the oldest and most vibrant fiddling traditions in North America. First established by Scottish immigrants in the late eighteenth century, it incorporated the influence of a later wave of Irish immigrants as well as the unique rhythmic sensibilities of the Acadian French, the Island's first European inhabitants. In Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler, renowned musician and folklorist Ken Perlman combines oral history, ethnography, and musical insight to present a captivating portrait of Prince Edward Island fiddling and its longstanding importance to community life. Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler draws heavily on interviews conducted with 150 fiddlers and other Islanders -including singers, dancers, music instructors, community leaders, and event organizers-whose memories span decades. The book thus colorfully brings to life a time not so very long ago when virtually any occasion-a wedding, harvest, house warming, holiday, or the need to raise money for local institutions such as schools and churchs-was sufficient excuse to hold a dance, with the fiddle player at the center of the celebration. Perlman explores how fiddling skills and traditions were learned and passed down through the generations and how individual fiddlers honed their distinctive playing styles. He also examines the Island's history and material culture, fiddlers' values and attitudes, the role of radio and recordings, the fiddlers' repertoire, fiddling contests, and the ebb and flow of the fiddling tradition, including efforts over the last few decades to keep the music alive in the face of modernization and the passing of old-timers. Rounding out the book is a rich array of photographs, musical examples, dance diagrams, and a discography. The inaugural volume in the Charles K. Wolfe American Music Series, Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler is, in the words of series editor Ted Olson, clearly among the more significant studies of a local North American music tradition to be published in recent years.
From his earliest recordings to his posthumously released albums, the haunting baritone of Waylon Jennings marked him as an extraordinarily individualistic country music artist. This biography by the late R. Serge Denisoff, first published in 1983, recounts Waylon's west Texas upbringing, his introduction to music as a radio announcer at thirteen years old, his tutelage by rock star Buddy Holly, and his eventual stellar yet stormy music career. Where the original 1983 biography ends, music scholar Travis Stimeling picks up with the waning years of Waylon's recording and performing. Stimeling recounts in the new afterword Waylon's continued musical success in the early 1980s-though his financial troubles and battle with drugs and alcohol would soon cost him both professionally and personally-his triumphant and sober return in the 1990s and collaboration with longtime recording artists in the industry, and his continued musical relevance in an evolving industry driven by Nashville's urban popularization of country music. Additionally, series editor Ted Olson, in his foreword, touches on Waylon's legacy and the continued influence of his outlaw style of country music. Fans of Waylon, country music, and the Nashville music scene are sure to find this second edition of R. Serge Denisoff's classic biography a welcome addition to the publications on the father of outlaw country.
Born in the summer of 1912, Woody Guthrie remains one of the most significant figures in American folk music to this day. While most Americans know his iconic anthem This Land Is Your Land , surprisingly few understand Guthrie's place in the greater context of American radicalism and protest in the 1930s and beyond. In Searching for Woody Guthrie, Ron Briley embarks on a chronological exploration of Guthrie's music in the vein of American radicalism and civil rights. Briley begins this journey with an overview of five key periods in Guthrie's life and, in the chapters that follow, analyses his political ideas through primary and secondary source materials. While numerous biographies on Woody Guthrie exist - including Guthrie's own 1943 autobiography - this book takes a different approach. Less biographical and more thematic in nature, Searching for Woody Guthrie centres around Guthrie's faith in the common working people of America, bringing together People's Daily World Woody Sez newspaper columns, Guthrie centennial secondary source texts, research in the Woody Guthrie Archives, and Briley's own personal reflections to present a narrative that is at once personal to the author and relatable to America's rural working class. Interlacing Guthrie's music with his own geographic and economic background, Briley presents an original and eloquent chronology of Guthrie's life and work in what amounts to a compelling new case for why that work, more than fifty years after Guthrie's death, continues to leave its mark.