08 December 2014

Coming from University of Illinois Press

The BIB editor reports:

Devotees of bluegrass, old-time music, and many other genres owe a great debt to the University of Illinois Press and its splendid and wide-ranging 'Music in American Life' series. Two volumes in particular, due for publication in the next few months, should please a lot of us.

The first is Gary B. Reid's The music of the Stanley Brothers, scheduled to appear in January. I met the author at IBMA's World of Bluegrass several years ago; he was then wearing a badge that read 'Ask me about the Stanley Brothers', and probably no one in the world had a better right to do so. The book - over 300 pages, with 51 photos, a discography, and a wealth of biographical information from many sources - is unlikely ever to be superseded. Gary Reid has recently presented a one-man show based on the life and songs of Carter Stanley.

Hoedowns, reels, and frolics: roots and branches of southern Appalachian dance, by Phil Jamison, is due out next July. BIB readers will remember Phil as a member of the late Ralph Blizard's New Southern Ramblers at the Omagh festival over ten years ago (last Thursday was the tenth anniversary of Ralph's death). The book is a radical reappraisal of the history of Appalachian dance, indicating in detail what came from Native American, African American, and European sources, and how they were remade in new syntheses.

Earlier this year the Press published In it for the long run by Jim Rooney - part of whose amazingly varied career in music is his role as strong supporter of Cork's Lee Valley String Band, the group that have played bluegrass and old-time music for longer than any other in this island.

While writing this post I learned with great regret that Judith McCulloh, whose founding and direction of the 'Music in American Life' series is just one of her many achievements, died on 13 July 2014 (the last day of this year's Athy festival). The range of her activities, and the warmth of her character, are shown in this appreciation by Stephen Winick. As well as her distinguished work as folklorist, ethnomusicologist, and arts administrator, she was an editor of the highest quality.

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