"In The Bluegrass Reader, Thomas Goldsmith joins his insights as a journalist with a lifetime of experience in bluegrass to capture the full story of this music. Inspired by the question "What articles about bluegrass would you want to have with you on a desert island?" he assembled a fun-to-read collection that brings together a wide range of the very best in bluegrass writing." Goldsmith's substantial introduction describes and traces the development of the music from its origins in Anglo-American folk tradition, overlaid with African American influences, to the breakout popularity of Ralph Stanley, Alison Krauss, and the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. He introduces each selection with a wealth of additional information, making The Bluegrass Reader invaluable for new fans of the music as well as for its lifetime devotees.
The popularity of the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? and its soundtrack renewed interest in bluegrass music. Contemporary artists like Alison Krauss now play with classic performers like Ralph Stanley to packed houses. Journalist Goldsmith, a bluegrass musician himself, provides a comprehensive and colorful history by collecting articles on figures as diverse as Bill Monroe, the Osborne Brothers, Steve Earle, and Krauss by the likes of Alan Lomax, Hunter S. Thompson, and Marty Stuart. These selections range from short reviews of individual performances to musicians' reminiscences to lengthy and affectionate portraits of bluegrass artists; some have never been published. Goldsmith's introduction is worth the price of admission, for it offers a clear and engaging survey of the three ages of bluegrass: the early years (1939-59), the "reseeding of bluegrass" (1959-79), and the roots revival (1959-). This first anthology of its kind is finger-pickin' good; highly recommended.-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.