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A History
By Neil V. Rosenberg
University of Illinois Press
447 Pages
ISBN:  0-252-06304-X

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At last, the definitive history of bluegrass by one of the world's leading authorities on the subject. Fifteen years in the making and eagerly awaited by bluegrass fans, writers, musicians and private collectors. Bluegrass chronicles the colorful story of the birth and the enormous growth of one of America's most popular musical forms.

Originating in country music in the 1930s and 1940s, bluegrass developed during the 1950s and beyond into a distinctly independent form, featuring such talents as Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys (the group that started it all), Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Ralph and Carter Stanley, the Country Gentlemen, Sonny and Bobby Osborne, the Dillards, the Lewis Family, the Johnson Mountain Boys, Jim and Jesse McReynolds and Ricky Skaggs. Rosenberg, himself a bluegrass musician, shows how these and many other performers have shaped the course of this unique music.

But Bluegrass is not just a genealogy of bands or a history of the music's evolution. What makes the book so valuable is Rosenberg's ability to place bluegrass in the larger context of American culture. Country music show business, the rurual upland South, the urban folk revival, rock and roll, the fiddling revival, commercial gospel music, the counterculture, movies and television soundtracks, bluegrass festivals and local bluegrass associations are all a part of the rich history Rosenberg narrates.

Never has the bluegrass story been more deftly told or more meticulously researched. Rosenberg has uncovered a wealth of information in such varied sources as trade publications, oral histories, bibliographies, songbooks, and personal interviews with bluegrass performers. The result is a dynamic and entertaining account of a quintessentially American music.

Neil V. Rosenberg is a professor of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland (St. John's). In the past quarter century, he has also worked as a semi-professional bluegrass musician in California, Indiana, Ohio, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. He helped manage the band contests for Bill Monroe's first two Bean Blossom Festivals and has edited reissue albums for RCA Victor, New World, Rounder, Time-Life, and the Franklin Mint Society. The author of Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys: An Illustrated Discography, Rosenberg also writes the column "Thirty Years Ago This Month" in Bluegrass Unlimited and emcees Bluegrass Country on CKIX-FM in St. John's.


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