“Among the few surviving documents of live performances from a period that is frequently described as the golden age of country music.”—The New York Times
“What Kagarise preserved was something extremely rare . . . live country music from the 50s and 60s performed in its most natural setting.”—National Public Radio
“...One of the year's best music picture books...”—Dan Deluca for Philadelphia Inquirer
Pure Country offers a front row ticket to a moment when scores of artists came into their prime and “hillbilly music” transformed into a national popular phenomenon, and a view of a vanished world when country artists such as Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and George Jones mingled up close with their fans like kin at a mountain family reunion.
In the ’50s and ’60s, in outdoor parks throughout Maryland and Pennsylvania, rural families paid $1 a carload and picnicked under the trees as recording stars and regional acts performed. With an artful eye and the passion of an avid fan, Leon Kagarise, a sound engineer by trade, amassed an archive of four thousand hours of live recordings and hundreds of vibrant, candid color photographs of these great musicians and their fans. Upon their discovery thirty years later, the Library of Congress placed the collection among the most important documents in the history of American music.
Pure Country is the first book to publish this outstanding collection. The book’s text presents a fascinating and lively history of the golden age of country and bluegrass as celebrated by one of its biggest fans.