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Kentucky Country

Kentucky Country: Folk and Country Music of Kentucky

Copyright Date: 1982
Edition: 1
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Kentucky Country
    Book Description:

    Kentucky Countryis a lively tour of the state's indigenous music, from the days of string bands through hillbilly, western swing, gospel, bluegrass, and honkey-tonk to through the Nashville Sound and beyond. Through personal interviews with many of the living legends of Kentucky music, Charles K. Wolfe illuminates a fascinating and important area of American culture. The list of country music stars who hail from Kentucky is a long and glittering one. Red Foley, Bill Monroe, Loretta Lynn, Tom T. Hall, the Judds, Dwight Yaokum, Billy Ray Cyrus, Ricky Skaggs, John Michael Montgomery, and Keith Whitely -- all these and many others have called Kentucky home.Kentucky Countryis the story of these stars and dozens more. It is also the story of many Kentucky musicians whose contributions have been little known or appreciated, and of those collectors, promoters, and entrepreneurs who have worked behind the scenes to bring Kentucky music to national attention.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4960-8
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Echoes from a Lost World
    (pp. 1-18)

    One afternoon in 1975 a woman from Bowling Green, Kentucky, brought an unusual document into the office of Charles Guthrie, a folklorist at Western Kentucky University. It was an old piece of lined tablet paper, yellow and brittle with age, covered on one side with a beautiful, archaic handwriting, done in pencil and faded, hard to read even in the bright summer sunlight. The woman was a former student of Guthrie’s, Faye Scott Anderson, and the piece of paper had belonged to a relative of her husband’s, Ola Ashinhurst. Ola had been a lifelong resident of the hilly Pennyroyal region,...

  5. 2 The New Minstrels
    (pp. 19-43)

    One evening in 1907, a man named Richard Daniel Burnett was walking home from his job in a barbershop in Steams, Kentucky. He was twenty-four years old, a big strapping man with a reputation for knowing how to take care of himself in the rough-and-tumble oil fields and coal yards in the area. He was going home to his young wife and baby, and was cutting across the railroad yards of the CNO & TP line when he heard a noise in the shadows ahead. He stopped, and a man stepped out from behind a building and levelled a shotgun at...

  6. 3 The Radio Kids
    (pp. 44-65)

    DETROIT, 1933. The Great Depression was at its deepest point, some 75,000 people in the city were out of work, and a grim joke was circulating around the bread lines and union halls. “To crash a job at a plant, one man I know practiced up on the southern dialect and drawl, then presented himself at the factory gates. He was hired as soon as he opened his mouth.” Nervous over ideas of unionism in their regular workers, the big auto companies had for months been chartering buses and bringing loads of young southerners from Kentucky, Tennessee, even Alabama, into...

  7. 4 Take Me Back to Renfro Valley
    (pp. 66-95)

    While many of Kentucky’s finest young musicians were going to the big cities to make a living with country music in the 1930s, the rich tradition of folk music that had nourished them began to attract national attention in its own right. Through a series of popular books, festivals, and radio broadcasts, Americans during this era began to learn about folk music and “colorful” folk performers, and more often than not they began to associate this sort of music with Kentucky. The picture of this music that Americans sometimes received was not entirely accurate—it was often romanticized or based...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. 5 Bluegrass Picking
    (pp. 96-129)

    American soldiers coming home after the end of World War II found a different world from the one they had left. It was a world of housing shortages, runaway inflation, new industries, and applied technologies that were bringing them everything from the garbage disposal to the television set. The big bands were disappearing as fast as dinosaurs, and singers were replacing instrumentalists as the kings of pop music. Fans of country music noticed that the string band at the local dance hall had a new sound, as well; the five-string banjo and the fiddle had been replaced by two new...

  10. 6 Queens and Ramblers
    (pp. 130-170)

    It was a warm Saturday evening in April 1946. In downtown Nashville the street lights were going on and a line of country music fans stretched down Fifth Street and around the corner onto Lower Broadway waiting to get into the Ryman Auditorium to see the Grand Ole Opry. Juke boxes in nearby bars were playing the big country hits of the day—western swing like Spade Cooley’s “Shame on You” and cowboy songs like Dick Thomas’s “Sioux City Sue”—and the talk was about the new baseball season and whether batting star Stan Musial, back from the navy, would...

  11. 7 Kentucky Music, American Country
    (pp. 171-175)

    In spite of the fact that Kentucky music has produced a variety of performers and styles, it still has its own distinct identity. In spite of its diversity, common threads run through it. To begin with, Kentucky has produced an inordinate number of good and influential musicians; it has, in fact, contributed more stars to country music than any other state except Texas, a state six times its size with four times its population. Four Kentuckians—Bill Monroe, Grandpa Jones, Red Foley, and Merle Travis—have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, as has adoptive son Pee...

  12. Afterword, 1980-1996
    (pp. 176-189)

    In the 1980s and 1990s a number of Kentucky artists continued to find national and international fame in the burgeoning country music arena. A surprising number of them used their Kentucky roots to create distinctive styles and repertoires and establish music that had strong links to the state’s musical traditions. Many took advantage of the trend toward the “new traditionalism” in country music in the 1980s. Led by singers such as Randy Travis and Patty Loveless, this movement sought to revitalize the classic styles of older country music and return to the pared-down arrangements of the 1940s and 1950s and...

  13. Sources and Further Reading
    (pp. 190-193)
  14. Selected Discography
    (pp. 194-196)
  15. Index
    (pp. 197-214)