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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Josh Graves telling it the way it was., October 27, 2012
This review is from: Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for bluegrass and early country fans, October 29, 2012
By 
Kindle Customer (Del Mar, CA, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) (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
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Bluegrass Classic, December 3, 2012
This review is from: Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) (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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man who Put the Dobro into Bluegrass, October 30, 2012
This review is from: Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Important and Entertaining Look at Bluegrass's Beginnings, November 26, 2012
This review is from: Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Next best thing to meeting him, November 14, 2012
This review is from: Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bluegrass Bluesman is a winner, November 6, 2012
This review is from: Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) (Paperback)
Josh Graves changed the bluegrass landscape with his resophonic guitar in 1955 in the same manner that Earl Scruggs changed it a decade earlier with his banjo. As part of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys, Josh helped create a sound that brought more people to bluegrass music during the "Folk Music" period than any other. Influenced by Earl's right hand technique, and blues artist, "Lightnin' " Hopkins slide guitar work, Josh reinvented the way the instrument was played in country music and inspired generations of future players.
Fred Bartenstein does a wonderful job of weaving interviews together to create a powerful story about this Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame member.
If you enjoy reading about bluegrass, country or Americana music pioneers this book is highly recommended.

Dennis Satterlee
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bluegrass Bluesman book is absolutely great!, November 4, 2012
This review is from: Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) (Paperback)
I just finished reading (and re-reading) Fred Bartenstein's wonderful biography of Josh Graves. What a fantastic job he did! I saw Josh and Kenny Baker in the 80's at a festival in Texas, but I didn't get to meet them. 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. This book is so full of great information for a wannabe dobro player like me that I will be referring back to it often in the coming years.

Fred, thank you for all of your long hours of work. You have something to be really proud of in this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Josh at this best, April 9, 2013
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This review is from: Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) (Paperback)
This narrative, distilled from intervews and tapes is entertaining and also captures the beginning of modern blue grass as it emerged from the traditional tunes from the mountains. If you are a fan then this gem is full of quips and stories from Josh Graves who crossed paths with every major performer of this day including Lightning Hopkins. I really enjoyed it for the information and for the style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bluegrass Bluesman, December 13, 2012
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This review is from: Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) (Paperback)
Wanted to learn more about Josh Graves. Great story about a very interesting down-to-earth man. Love stories about the artists I play on my radio show.
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Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life)
Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir (Music in American Life) by Josh Graves (Paperback - September 20, 2012)
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