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Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) Paperback – September 20, 2012


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Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) + Crowe on the Banjo: The Music Life of J.D. Crowe (Music in American Life) + True Adventures with the King of Bluegrass: Jimmy Martin
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Product Details

  • Series: Music in American Life
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (September 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252078640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252078644
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Mesmerizing . . . especially for lovers of bluegrass."--Booklist


"One comes away from this interesting read with a keen understanding of a man who influenced country music, dobro playing in particular, in a way few have.  Recommended."--Choice



"A fascinating look at the musical culture of the South. . . . Thoroughly Southern, spicy, real, and lots of fun."--Library Journal


"The legendary musician provides interesting insight into the ways of his long-time boss, Earl Scruggs."--MountainTimes.com



"Graves's name won't ring a bell for many outside musicians' circles, but Burkett "Uncle Josh" Graves helped take bluegrass from southern Appalachia to college campuses and beyond, to the world-music status it enjoys today. . . . Bluegrass Bluesman is unfiltered, off-the-cuff oral history."--The Wall Street Journal

"In this welcome memoir, Graves proves himself a born storyteller. . . .   Rarely is a guitarist's memoir such a rich read."--Vintage Guitar



About the Author

 
Fred Bartenstein has performed many roles in bluegrass music, including magazine editor, broadcaster, musician, festival MC, talent director, scholar and consultant. He lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Fred Bartenstein has given us a compact memoir Of "Uncle Josh", compact and straight forward.
Howard Parker
After reading the book, I feel like I have had a long talk with Josh, and now I know a lot more about the man and his music.
Fred King
If you enjoy reading about bluegrass, country or Americana music pioneers this book is highly recommended.
Dennis R. Satterlee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Howard Parker on October 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is an opportunity to hear the iconic musician speak his piece in his own words long after his passing. Fred Bartenstein has edited Josh's memoir interviews with an oh so light touch.

Josh speaks in a matter of fact, unapologetic tone as a kid that just happened to choose his own destiny and manage to ride a 60 year career to a legendary status. He did it as a side man with the most beloved bluegrass band of all time and he did it following his muse wherever it led him.

You learn of Josh Graves the man and musician of course but, Graves is fascinating when he details the business of early country and bluegrass music. He details the economics,pitfalls and real danger of being on the road during that time. Not for the faint of heart.

So much has changed of the years in some respects. So much hasn't changed at all.

Fred Bartenstein has given us a compact memoir Of "Uncle Josh", compact and straight forward. Josh speaking his mind, straight as an arrow, no frills. No apologies. Josh Graves telling us the way it was.

I'm going to read this again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on October 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is quite simply one of the most important books on bluegrass to be published in the last twenty years. The life and importance of Buck "Uncle Josh" Graves to bluegrass goes beyond his introducing the dobro into the music. He was a consummate showman, musician, comedian, songwriter, and singer. This memoir was lovingly assembled and edited by renowned bluegrass polymath Fred Bartenstein and a host of knowledgable people.

I have a fuller review in [...]

But basically, buy it and read it. The voice and memories of Josh Graves are worth hearing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By floraposte on December 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
I saw this glowingly reviewed in the Wall Street Journal and was intrigued enough to buy a copy. So glad I did. This fascinating and detailed autobiography of dobro player Josh Graves is richly informative about the world of bluegrass, an invaluable addition to American musicology, a resource for serious musicologists and quite simply, a riveting read for anyone. Fred Bartenstein's skillful and informed editing has brought Graves to life and allowed him to tell his own story in his own words, at his own pace,probably just as Graves himself would have wished . The effect is mesmerising- I felt like Graves was sitting across the room, talking away and getting ready to tune up his dobro. Highly recommended- this book deserves to become an American classic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By benny frenchie on October 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
What an enjoyable book! Uncle Josh created the role played by Dobros (or resophonic Guitars) in bluegrass music today because of the prominence he enjoyed in the influential band of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs after 1955. I was surprised to learn that Earl taught Josh the three-finger banjo-style roll when he was still playing with Esco Hankins in the late `40s.

Graves' memoir offers forthright views of the music, other personalities and his own place in that world. Without saying anything hurtful, Josh diplomatically lets us know where he stands. He's candid about the F&S breakup in 1969, spelling out details without casting aspersions on the principals. It's the first time I've seen the story spelled out so clearly. It's been convenient to blame their differences on Louise & Earl, but clearly Lester had a role as well.

I can only guess at the work that went into assembling, editing, transcribing and unifying the tape interviews that made this book possible. Congratulations to Fred Bartenstein on a first class job!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By katie laur on November 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
Ironically, Josh Graves reveals more about Flatt and Scruggs and the inner workings of that group of men than almost any other book I've seen lately. The importance of this book can't be overstated. Fred Bartenstein has some kind of genius to make the words he touches just exactly right. My hat's off to him!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DW on November 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
I stumbled into bluegrass by way of an interest in the dobro and the music of Jerry Douglas. It was only after peeling back the layers of modern players like Douglas that I discovered who Josh Graves was. Pretty soon I realized that Josh Graves was to the modern dobro what Robert Johnson was to modern blues guitar.

I find that music is much richer when I can understand something about the musician. So, I relished learning more about the musical hero of one of my musical heroes. What's clear throughout the book is Graves' humility surrounding his status as a musical pioneer. That, itself, has made me a bigger fan of his. He lived a sometimes-gritty life, and it's amazing that he persevered to build the career in music that he did.

My complaints are few; I expected a linear story, but Graves' tales skip around a bit. Also, I hoped that he would elaborate a little more on the development of his style and the teachings of Earl Scruggs. Toward the end of the book, Graves gets on a bit of a soapbox about the irreverence of a newer generation of musicians, too. However, I can appreciate that it's all part of the fuller picture of Graves that I now have-- thanks to this book.

It's an easy, enjoyable read, and if you're a dobro player, it's required reading. Not all of us were lucky enough to cross paths with Graves while he was alive, so this book is the next best thing.
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