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The Music of the Stanley Brothers brings together forty years of passionate research by scholar and record label owner Gary Reid. A leading authority on Carter and Ralph Stanley, Reid augments his own vast knowledge of their music with interviews, documents ranging from books to folios sold by the brothers at shows, and the words of Ralph Stanley, former band members, guest musicians, session producers, songwriters, and bluegrass experts. The result is a reference that illuminates the Stanleys' art and history. It is all here: dates and locations; the roster of players on well-known and obscure sessions alike; master/matrix and catalog/release numbers, with reissue information; a full discography sorting out the Stanleys' complex recording history; the stories behind the music; and exquisitely informed biographical notes that place events in the context of the brothers' careers and lives. Monumental and indispensable, The Music of the Stanley Brothers provides fans and scholars alike with a guide for immersion in the long career and breathtaking repertoire of two legendary American musicians.
Carter and Ralph Stanley--the Stanley Brothers--are comparable to Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs as important members of the earliest generation of bluegrass musicians. In this first biography of the brothers, author David W. Johnson documents that Carter (1925-1966) and Ralph (b. 1927) were equally important contributors to the tradition of old-time country music. Together from 1946 to 1966, the Stanley Brothers began their careers performing in the schoolhouses of southwestern Virginia and expanded their popularity to the concert halls of Europe. In order to re-create this post-World War II journey through the changing landscape of American music, the author interviewed Ralph Stanley, the family of Carter Stanley, former members of the Clinch Mountain Boys, and dozens of musicians and friends who knew the Stanley Brothers as musicians and men. The late Mike Seeger allowed Johnson to use his invaluable 1966 interviews with the brothers. Notable old-time country and bluegrass musicians such as George Shuffler, Lester Woodie, Larry Sparks, and the late Wade Mainer shared their recollections of Carter and Ralph. Lonesome Melodies begins and ends in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. Carter and Ralph were born there and had an early publicity photograph taken at the Cumberland Gap. In December 1966, pallbearers walked up Smith Ridge to bring Carter to his final resting place. In the intervening years, the brothers performed thousands of in-person and radio shows, recorded hundreds of songs and tunes for half a dozen record labels, and tried to keep pace with changing times while remaining true to the spirit of old-time country music. As a result of their accomplishments, they have become a standard of musical authenticity.
'A very enjoyable book...makes you feel that you are listening to the persons Wright interviewed talk about treasured memories.' -- Suzanne Denison, Bluegrass Breakdown
Spanning more than a thousand separate performances, The Music of Bill Monroe presents a complete chronological list of all of Bill Monroe's commercially released sound and visual recordings. Each chapter begins with a narrative describing Monroe's life and career at that point as well as the producers, sidemen, and others who become part of the story. The narratives, a who's who of bluegrass, connect Monroe to the music's larger history and contain many intriguing stories. The second part of each chapter presents a discography of Monroe's work during those years. The information includes a session's place, date, time, and producer; master/matrix numbers, song/tune titles, composer credits, personnel, instruments, and vocals; and catalog/release numbers and reissue data. The only complete bio-discography of this American musical icon, The Music of Bill Monroe is the starting point for any study of Monroe's contributions as a composer, interpreter, and performer.
A giant of American music opens the book on his wrenching professional and personal journeys, paying tribute to the vanishing Appalachian culture that gave him his voice. He was there at the beginning of bluegrass. Yet his music, forged in the remote hills and hollows of Southwest Virginia, has even deeper roots. In Man of Constant Sorrow, Dr. Ralph Stanley gives a surprisingly candid look back on his long and incredible career as the patriarch of old-time mountain music. Marked by Dr. Ralph Stanley?s banjo picking, his brother Carter?s guitar playing, and their haunting and distinctive harmonies, the Stanley Brothers began their career in 1946 and blessed the world of bluegrass with hundreds of classic songs, including ?White Dove,? ?Rank Stranger,? and what has become Dr. Ralph?s signature song, ?Man of Constant Sorrow.? Carter died in 1966 after years of alcohol abuse, but Dr. Ralph Stanley carried on and is still at the top of his game, playing to audiences across the country today at age eighty-one. Rarely giving interviews, he now grants fans the book they have been waiting for, filled with frank recollections, from his boyhood of dire poverty in the Appalachian coalfields to his early musical success with his brother, to years of hard traveling on the road with the Clinch Mountain Boys, to the recent, jubilant revival of a sound he helped create. The story of how a musical art now popular around the world was crafted by two brothers from a dying mountain culture, Man of Constant Sorrow captures a life harmonized with equal measures of tragedy and triumph.
In this first biography of legendary banjoist J. D. Crowe, Marty Godbey charts the life and career of one of bluegrass's most important innovators. Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Crowe picked up the banjo when he was thirteen years old, inspired by a Flatt & Scruggs performance at the Kentucky Barn Dance. Godbey relates the long, distinguished career that followed, as Crowe performed and recorded both solo and as part of such varied ensembles as Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys, the all-acoustic Kentucky Mountain Boys, and the revolutionary New South, who created an adventurously eclectic brand of bluegrass by merging rock and country music influences with traditional forms. Over the decades, this highly influential group launched the careers of many other fresh talents such as Keith Whitley, Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, and Doyle Lawson. With a selective discography and drawing from more than twenty interviews with Crowe and dozens more with the players who know him best, Crowe on the Banjo: The Music Life of J. D. Crowe is the definitive music biography of a true bluegrass original.
While other work on Bill Monroe has been written from a historical point of view, Come Hither to Go Yonder is told from the perspective of a musician who was actually there. Filled with observations made from the unique vantage point of a man who has traveled and performed extensively with the master, this book is Bob Black's personal memoir about the profound influence that Monroe exerted on the musicians who have carried on the bluegrass tradition in the wake of his 1996 death. This volume also includes a complete listing of Bob Black's appearances with Monroe, his most memorable experiences while they worked together, brief descriptions of the more important musicians and bands mentioned, and suggestions for further reading and listening. Offering a rare perspective on the creative forces that drove one of America's greatest composers and musical innovators, Come Hither to Go Yonder will deeply reward any fans of Bill Monroe, of bluegrass, or of American vernacular music.

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