This new book tells-for the first time-the story of Charlie Bowman, a musician
from East Tennessee, who was a major influence on the distinctive fiddle style
definitive of country music of the 1920s and 1930s. Charlie, along with three
of his brothers and two of his daughters, were part of the Columbia Records
“Johnson City Sessions” of 1928 and 1929.
The farmer-turned-musician was one of the pioneers who helped shape and develop a
vital American musical genre. Bowman was acquainted with many musical luminaries
of that colorful era, including the legendary Carter Family.
But this is not simply the biography of one man. Fiddlin' Charlie Bowman is the
portrayal of a large colorful family, a close-knit mountain community, a geographic
area, and a specific musical variety defined as old-time traditional Appalachian music.
This volume explores Bowman's musical life - his work with various bands, including
the Hill Billies (the first group to use that name to characterize old-time music),
his years on the road touring, and his association with other performers. Beyond that,
it chronicles the experiences of Bowman's large family left behind in Gray Station,
Tennessee and details the many hardships caused by his departure and prolonged absence.
Written by Bowman's great nephew Bob L. Cox, this biography provides an insider's
perspective on an important but often overlooked musician. For his research, Cox
drew on his family's records and memories. In addition to published books and articles,
his resources included the family Bible, scrapbooks, diaries, photographs, and
taped interviews with family members and friends.
Sure to be enjoyed by all those interested in the origins of country music and
Appalachian history, Fiddlin' Charlie Bowman is a delightful account of the life
and times of this musical trailblazer.
About the Author
Bob Cox, a retired chemical engineer, is a history columnist with the
Johnson City (Tennessee) Press, producing a weekly feature entitled Yesteryear.