Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

The Stanley Brothers Sessions

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

The Stanley Brothers Sessions

Article excerpt

You know that a book has a scholarly underpinning when it kicks off with a three-page explanation of the formatting of the discography. Indeed, Gary B. Reid, the founder of the bluegrass and old-time music label Copper Creek Records, has taken a reverential approach to The Music of the Stanley Brothers, an authoritative book on Ralph and Carter Stanley, key figures in the formation of bluegrass music.

The contents are arranged chronologically, and the book is packed not only with discographies, but also key biographical details and musicological analyses of the songs. On page after page, Reid tracks songs, labels, and festivals, from 1947 to 1966. The result is a heartfelt homage to two of the most important American musicians of the last half of the 20th century. It's told in a clear-eyed manner, unsullied by pretense or hyperbole. "As for the Stanley Brothers. . . , the music speaks for itself," Reid writes in the last chapter. "They were at the start of it all. The recordings show how the group morphed from old-time string to bluegrass, how their songwriting efforts added to the core repertoire of the genre, and how they became the genre's most recorded group." Carter died in 1964, the 88-year-old Ralph continues to perform and record, and the Stanley Brothers' rich legacy lives on.

On Highway 61: Music, Race and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom

Who knew that Dennis McNally, the longtime publicist of the Grateful Dead, was such a deep thinker?

While others may be content to take a superficial view of American roots music, McNally takes the reader back in time to Henry David Thoreau and the transcendentalists, and works of the literary giant Mark Twain, to examine the history of the nation's attitudes toward race and how that past helped to inform the African-American experience. …

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