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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
A fascinating exploration of the relationship between American culture and music as defined by musicians, scholars, and critics from around the world.
King of the Queen City is the first comprehensive history of King Records, one of the most influential independent record companies in the history of American music. Founded by businessman Sydney Nathan in the mid-1940s, this small outsider record company in Cincinnati, Ohio, attracted a diverse roster of artists, including James Brown, the Stanley Brothers, Grandpa Jones, Redd Foxx, Earl Bostic, Bill Doggett, Ike Turner, Roy Brown, Freddie King, Eddie Vinson, and Johnny "Guitar" Watson. While other record companies concentrated on one style of music, King was active in virtually all genres of vernacular American music, from blues and R & B to rockabilly, bluegrass, western swing, and country. A progressive company in a reactionary time, King was led by an interracial creative and executive staff that redefined the face and voice of American music as well as the way it was recorded and sold. Drawing on personal interviews, research in newspapers and periodicals, and deep access to the King archives, Jon Hartley Fox weaves together the elements of King's success, focusing on the dynamic personalities of the artists, producers, and key executives such as Syd Nathan, Henry Glover, and Ralph Bass. The book also includes a foreword by legendary guitarist, singer, and songwriter Dave Alvin.
With his trademark mandolin style and unequaled tenor harmonies, Curly Seckler has carved out a seventy-seven-year career in bluegrass and country music. His foundational work in Flatt and Scruggs's Foggy Mountain Boys secured him a place in bluegrass history, while his role in The Nashville Grass made him an essential part of the music's triumphant 1970s revival. Written in close collaboration with Mr. Seckler and those who know him, Foggy Mountain Troubadour is the first full-length biography of an American original. Penny Parsons follows a journey from North Carolina schoolhouses to the Grand Ole Opry stage and the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, from boarding houses to radio studios and traveling five to a car on two-lane roads to make the next show. Throughout, she captures the warm humor, hard choices, and vivid details of a brilliant artist's life as he crisscrosses a nation and a century making music.
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.
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