Bluegrass Odyssey

Bluegrass Odyssey : A Documentary in Pictures and Words, 1966-86

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The fruit of four decades of collaboration between bluegrass music's premier photographer and premier historian, Bluegrass Odyssey is a satisfying and visually alluring journey into the heart of a genuinely American music. Combining Neil V. Rosenberg's commentary with more than two hundred of Carl Fleischhauer's matchless photographs, this elegant visual documentary captures the music making, the culture and community that foster it, and "the places where bluegrass is at home.'Fleischhauer's striking photographs take the reader to the festival stages, taverns, grassy hillsides, country music halls, upscale clubs, barbershops, hillbilly storefront bars, and parking-lot jam sessions where bluegrass thrives. Inviting us in to the process of creating and celebrating this exuberant art form, his images offer an authentic and direct vision of the bluegrass community, including fans, instrument dealers, disc jockeys, and revered performers. In addition to wide-angle photographs that document the places in which bluegrass and its people are found, Fleischhauer offers arresting performance portraits of musicians such as Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs, the Lewis and Stoneman families, the New Grass Revival, J. D. Crowe and the Kentucky Mountain Boys, the Dillards, and dozens of others.Rosenberg's narrative explores the dynamics of bluegrass performance, from the practice of "ganging around the mike," as bands bring one musical strand after another to the fore, to the tight harmonies and intricate exchanges as players respond to each other's musical ideas. Noting the blend of influences that have shaped bluegrass-ranging from rural and small-town "preachin' and prayin'" to an assembly-line precision and coordination that reflect the factories and offices to which many rural southerners migrated-Rosenberg traces the genre's emergence as a fully realized musical culture deeply rooted in community and family.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 237 x 288.5 x 20.8mm | 1,194.35g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252026152
  • 9780252026157

Review quote

"Striking photographs... Covers many aspects of the music's culture, including small-town nightspots and support systems like instrument makers, radio stations and record companies, before concluding with a marvelous chapter on Monroe. It's also chock-full of photos capturing the first decade of the festival movement... Those pictures reflect the passion, commitment and simple pleasure of performers and fans alike, supporting the notion that a good weekend of bluegrass music can make a believer of anyone." -- Richard Harrington, Washington Post "The daily rhythm of bluegrass music and culture in the American South -- instrumental jams, porch gatherings, and impromptu parking-lot concerts -- is documented alongside appreciations of some greats of the genre: Bill Monroe, the Stoneman Family, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs. Bluegrass Odyssey doesn't just list names, dates, and places where bluegrass has grown -- it salutes the values that a tradition has held dear: passion, community, family, and the craft of storytelling." -- Doubletake "Superb ... documentation by a photographer/folklorist and a writer/folklorist, depicting what they saw, heard, observed, learned, loved (and still do) and now share with all through these beautifully constructed pages." -- Sing Out "Fleischhauer's photographs coupled with Rosenberg's text document the rich history and cultural community of bluegrass across 20 years... [They] provide a unique balance of explanatory text and illustrative images to tell their discovery story of bluegrass music." -- Patrician Lynn Kilby, Appalachian Journal "This book is about not just the musicians but also the devoted fans, the streets and stores and offices, the buses and pickups and festival sites and musical instruments and traditions that reveal the cultural landscape of bluegrass. Rosenberg's narratives set the stage for Fleischhauer's compelling, black-and-white photographs, photographs that invoke a remarkable intimacy in the revealing faces, the intensity and stillness, at the hillside and nightclub, in the parking lot jams or at a peaceful mountain gravesite." -- Choice "Fleishhauer's black and white photos capture something essential about the bluegrass experience... One rapturous viewing wasn't enough -- these photographs demand to be mulled over... That process is greatly aided by the generous and informative photo captions... Exceptional work." -- Bluegrass Unlimited ADVANCE PRAISE "Bluegrass Odyssey is a superb work. The text is fascinating, and every picture captures the emotions that create the high lonesome sound and the style of the musicians who play it."- Hal Bruno, ABC News (retired) "There are no two people with more knowledge of and dedication to bluegrass than Carl Fleischhauer and Neil Rosenberg. Here they combine their long-time friendship and considerable talents to produce a unique look at one of America's most distinctive art forms. The result is a vivid family album of bluegrass that will appeal to veteran fans and newcomers alike." - Charles Wolfe, author of A Good-Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opryshow more

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