Jimmy Martin was just twenty-two years old when Bill Monroe asked him to join
the Blue Grass Boys. That invitation was the start of a fifty-year recording
career, recently celebrated with Martin's induction into the International
Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Honor. At age seventy-two, he still
regularly performs with his band, the Sunny Mountain Boys. Yet the man himself
remains an obscure figure, compared with other bluegrass greats such as Ralph
Stanley or the Osborne Brothers.
Fiction writer and music critic Tom Piazza couldn't understand why Martin
wasn't better known. So, on assignment from The Oxford American magazine, he
drove from his home in New Orleans to Nasvhille to find out. Although aware
that Martion had "a reputation as a heavy drinker and a volatile personality,"
Piazza found himself pitched headlong into a world he couldn't have anticipated.
Martin's mercurial personality drew the writer into a series of escalating
encournters (with mean dogs, broken-down cars, and near electrocution), culminating
in a harrowing and unforgettable expedition, with Martin, to the Grand Ole Opry.
Piazza captured his visit with Martin in supple, electric prose, and the result, when
it appeared in The Oxford American, quickly became a word-of-mouth sensation
among musicians and fans alike. Included in this edition are a new afterword
by PIazza, an essay on Martin's recordings, and a timeline of Martin's career.
True Adventures with the King of Bluegrass is a funny, scary, and powerfully
poignant portrait of one of the living legends of American music.
Tom Piazza, writing on American music has appeared
in the "Sunday New York Times", "The Atlantic Monthly", "The New Republic",
and "The Village Voice". His books include "The Guide to Classic Recorded Jazz"
(University of Iowa Press), which won the ASCAP-Deems TAylor Award for music
writing, and "Blues and Trouble" (St. Martin's Press), which won a James Michener
Award for fiction. He lives in New Orleans (where he can be reached at www.tompiazza.com)
and is currently working on a novel.