OLD AS THE HILLS: The Story of Bluegrass Music by Steven D. Price

OLD AS THE HILLS: The Story of Bluegrass Music

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Bluegrass is the music of the Good Old Boys, the Appalachian fiddlers and banjo players who used Irish reels, mournful ballads of unrequited love and Scots' bagpipe tunes as their point of departure, developing the sound that is indigenous to the southern mountains. Bluegrass is to Country 'n' Western what Dixieland is to jazz -- ""romp-and-stomp"" good time music played at barn raisings, square dances, roadside tavers and revival meetings. (Recently it provided the theme for a number of films -- Bonnie and Clyde, Deliverance and Payday.) Price, who knows the field well (Take Me Home, p. 727), describes the history and evolution of this special sound made up of piercing, nasal solo singing, whining fiddles, twanging banjos, sliding Dobro guitars and fluttering mandolins -- flashy, intricate string band music which continues to have a small but fanatical following. The careers of some of Bluegrass' legendary performers starting with Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs and Lester Flat and The Foggy Mountain Boys are enthusiastically hailed and the lesser lights (including the urban-bred city boys of the '60's) get honorable mention. Price is no purist -- he accepts the coming of electrified instruments and the compromises with rock. There is a helpful discography, though alas, many of the best records are now out of print.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1975
Publisher: Viking