"Tell'em I'm a farmer with a mandolin and a high tenor voice," Bill Monroe
said. Known as the Father of Bluegrass Music, Monroe pioneered a whole
new category of music and inspired generations of musicians and fans. Yet from
his founding of the original bluegrass band through six decades of performing
he remained an enigmatic figure, a mixture of fierce intesity, homespun
modesty, and musical integrity.
Determined to play the mandolin in a way it had never been played before,
Monroe distinguished himself in the mid-1930s with the Monroe Brothers,
then began forming his own band, the Blue Grass Boys, in 1938. By the
mid-1940s, other bands were copying his sound, and a new style, bluegrass
music, was born. While country music moved toward electrification,
Monroe maintained his acoustic ensemble and developed his "high,
lonesome sound," performing nearly up to his death in 1996.
In this eclectic, richly illustrated reader, former Blue Grass Boy Tom
Ewing gathers the most significant and illuminating of the many articles
that have been written about Monroe. Through the writings of nearly sixty
observers, interviewers, admirers, folklorists, and other scholars,
along with Ewing's astute commentary, The Bill Monroe Reader" offers
a multifaceted view of one of the most influential country musicians
of the twentieth century. Lively, heartfelt, and informative, The Bill
Monroe Reader is a fitting tribute to the man and the musician who
transformed the traditional music of western Kentucky into an
Tom Ewing played guitar with Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys from
1986 to 1996. He is a columnist for and contributor to "Bluegrass Unlimited"