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 ---------------------------------- "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.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.