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American Roots Music (Based on the PBS Television Series) Hardcover – September 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810914328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810914322
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 1 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

To unite the "uniquely American genres of folk music such as blues, gospel, country, Western swing, Cajun, zydeco, Tejano and Native American" under the designation of roots music and to attempt to explore such a diverse category sufficiently is to invite charges of folly or hubris or both. But this large volume, the companion text to a four-part PBS series of the same name, boldly does so and largely succeeds. While the 11 essays cover material that has been studied in-depth elsewhere, together they make a convincing case that the tradition of "pre-rock" folk music is worthy of respect and reinvestigation. Singer Raitt's claim that "without roots music there would be no... modern popular culture today" might be overstated, but there's no doubt that the form has been profoundly influential (as well as increasingly popular). Profiles of artists like Hank Williams, B.B. King and Emmylou Harris and careful considerations of the role roots music played in American culture are interspersed with interview excerpts, time lines and song lyrics. Manuel Pe¤a's "Musica Tejana: The Music of Mexican Texas" is especially good. Aside from the excellent essays, the book stands out for its selection of rare and fascinating photographs. A rich and thoughtful investigation of "vernacular" music, this is essential reading for neophytes and connoisseurs alike. (Nov.)Forecast: With the PBS series this fall bound to attract a large audience, this should be a big seller. It should also have a long shelf life as a reference work and a gift book.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

If the Billboard 200 chart is any indication, more and more Americans are abandoning the fruitless quest for aesthetic fulfillment in megacorporate McMusics. For instance, the soundtrack to the Cohen brothers' Dustbowl odyssey, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which showcases American roots classics, has sold a staggering two million copies. Edited by Santelli (deputy director of public programs, Experience Music Project), Holly George-Warren (editor, Rolling Stone Press), and producer/director Jim Brown, this magnificent new book encyclopedically explains and explores such strains as early blues, gospel, musica tejana, and Cajun/zydeco using vivid historical summaries, first-person interviews, and hundreds of rare archival photographs. Indeed, the astonishing illustrations W.C. Handy as a young cornet player circa 1909, a young Johnny Cash and an even younger Elvis Presley in the Sun recording studios, the cover of a Gene Autry "Oklahoma Yodeling Cowboy" songbook are alone well worth the price. While each individual American roots idiom has been covered by numerous worthy works, this coffee-table collaboration among the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Experience Music Project, Ginger Group Productions, Abrams, and Rolling Stone Press is the only publication to date that so remarkably treats the entire spectrum. The only downside is the lack of an index. Although it was developed as a companion to the PBS documentary of the same name (to premiere October 29), American Roots Music easily stands alone and is very highly recommended for all public and academic libraries. Bill Piekarski, Lackawanna, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris Luallen on November 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This outstanding book includes well written and informative essays on American roots music forms ranging from blues to country and folk to gospel. I especially enjoyed the chapters on musical styles, such as Cajun and tejana, that I was less familiar with.

The book will serve as a great introduction to those seeking to learn more about American music. But even those already well informed will enjoy the great archival photos that feature artists such as Jimmie Rodgers, Charley Patton and Mahalia Jackson. The hardcover edition makes a great coffee table book, though the inspired writing and photos make this much more than just a decorative piece. Highly recommended for all lovers of American traditional music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Liz Lindsey on August 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This overview of our American Music is just right for my music classes - it will be a great supplement to the materials I already have!
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By ndurham on May 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is a picture of my Dad in this book and I just had to have it. Glad I found it in print.
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