A bluegrass reading list

A local bookstore asked me to compile a short reading list on the subject of bluegrass music, and I thought I might as well share it with you on the ‘Net.  It’s very brief, but additions are welcomed, and it does make a good start for those interested in learning more about what I feel is a very misunderstood / unknown kind of music:

A reading list on bluegrass music
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"Bluegrass" denotes a musical style, a way of playing American country
music, that is unique in having its origin attributable to a single
person, Bill Monroe, of Western Kentucky.

Monroe himself was influenced by folk songs and tunes, as played by
fiddlers and string bands from the Appalachians, mountain church hymns,
blues from black musicians, as well as early jazz.  It would seem
appropriate to begin with books on the inventor of the style.  There
have been several books on Monroe over the past few years, of varying
quality.  Two of the best, in my view, are:

"The Bill Monroe Reader", (a series of articles and columns on Monroe
covering almost 50 years) edited by Tom Ewing.  Some fine, and sometimes
intimate, glimpses of Monroe as seen by his contemporaries.  University
of Illinois Press, 2000.

"The Music Of Bill Monroe", Neil V. Rosenberg and Charles K. Wolfe,
University of Illinois Press, 2007.  This volume lists every recording
made by Bill Monroe in a discography, session date, personnel, location,
and date, as well as a discussion of aspects of every song and tune Bill
recorded.

Bill Monroe discography

An earlier Monroe discography by Neil Rosenberg

For a more general overview, I would recommend: "Country Music USA: A Fifty Year History", Bill C. Malone, University Of Texas Press, 1968. A great basic introduction to the country music genre. "Bluegrass Breakdown", Robert Cantwell, University of Illinois Press, 1984, 2003. A sometime maddening (in terms of scholastic language and approach) but excellent historical survey of bluegrass. "Bluegrass, A History", Neil Rosenberg, University of Illinois Press, 1985. The best general history I've found.

About Peter Feldmann

Peter Feldmann has long been a musical mainstay in Santa Barbara and Southern California. Besides actively performing bluegrass and old time music with a variety of groups, Peter is also known as a bluegrass historian, collector, music consultant, teacher, and producer, both of live concerts and radio/tv programs throughout the area. His music has been heard in clubs, concerts, saloons, universities, pre-schools, at weddings, wakes, parties, barn-raisings, calf-ropings, rodeos, auctions, fund raisers, wine tastings and chili cook offs.

Peter founded Santa Barbara’s Old Time Fiddler’s Convention (1972), UCSB’s Old Time Music Front (1964), and The Bluebird Cafe (1971). Through these and other outlets, he was the first to bring many prominent folk, blues, and bluegrass artists, including Bill Monroe, Mance Lipscomb, The Stanley Brothers, The New Lost City Ramblers, Fred McDowell, Furry Lewis, Rose Maddox, the Balfa Brothers, and many others to the Santa Barbara area. Peter also helped others access the music by teaching privately, and in group classes for Santa Barbara Continuing Education, UCSB Extension, and McCabes Guitars. He was the first on the West Coast to produce and market instruction Lps – three on How To Play Country Fiddle, and one each on Clawhammer Banjo, and Maybelle Carter Style Guitar. He still presents lectures on country music history at UCSB, Santa Barbara area libraries, and for various interest groups, festival workshops, etc. In 2006, he presented his monograph titled “The Big bang Of Bluegrass Music” (describing the origins of bluegrass 1938 – 1946) to the worlds first International Music Symposium at the University of Kentucky at Bowling Green. He has also been very active in radio, television, and film work, producing weekly shows on country and bluegrass music over a 21 year period on various commercial and public stations. Peter currently maintains three music-related websites, a music blog, and an entertainment service company, “BlueGrass West!”, based in the Santa Ynez Valley in Southern California.

Peter performs tunes and songs from the heart of America’s musical treasure chest. His shows can include fiddle, guitar, banjo, and mandolin. Well-known as a historian and teacher, Peter is first and foremost an entertainer, sharing his respect, energy and love for the music with his fellow musicians, friends, and audiences.

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