The ambitious aim of this colorful and comprehensive volume is to present the full spectrum of folk, country, and western music informally but in great detail for all those interested in this diverse field. One of a small handful of reference works devoted to this subject, it provides a wealth of information not available from other sources. The informal approach, as in Mr. Stambler's Encyclopedia of Popular Music, promises to appeal to many general readers; indeed, the book can be read strictly for fun, rich as it is in colorful characters and incidents.
The approximately five hundred entries included range from biographies of the "classical" folk and country personalities, such as Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Eddy Arnold, and Ernest Tubb, to those of the folk rock and country blues genre, such as Bob Dylan, Leadbelly, and Muddy Waters. Whenever possible, biographical material has been drawn from direct interview. In addition to biography, the encyclopedic portion includes definition of terms and discussion of major classes of folk, country, and western styles. Some entries cover special events and shows from the Newport Festival to the Grand Ole Opry. Instruments are discussed, from banjo to sitar to zither; special emphasis is given the guitarits history, musical styles associated with it, some reasons for its popularity. The book also includes three specially commissioned articles, by Sam Hinton ("Changing Attitudes Towards Folk Music"), Ed Kahn ("Country and Pop Music: Development and Relationship"), and Bill Anderson ("The Fall and Rise of Country Music"), as well as a comprehensive bibliography, discography; and nearly a hundred photographs.
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