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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beautiful Music All Around us, October 5, 2012
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This review is from: The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (Music in American Life) (Hardcover)
One of the most important books publishd in the last 20 years and the accompanying CD is unique in its content of some little heard and some superb L.o C. recordings. I never thought I'd see a pic. including the awesome Bozie Surdivant.

'Mississippi' Max Haymes
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great accomplishment, December 31, 2012
This review is from: The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (Music in American Life) (Hardcover)
this book is brilliantly written with tact and thorough research. the author is expert personally and academically on the playing of instruments and on performing. i first visited the library of congress folk archives 50 years ago and have been familiar since then with the recordings discussed. but i never knew much then, even though these field recordings and some handfuls of similar ones have been the basis of my life-long interest in folk music. i especially admire the author's historical backgrounds and facility in presenting social and cultural issues in an engaged but tolerant manner. the book is a gem of information about music and american life and displays superb decorum. the author is wry, intelligent, and respectful. the only book to offer me anywhere near the insight into american folk culture has been alan lomax' the land where the blues began. whereas that book was so colorful that i wondered if lomax might not be embellishing his experience, reading this book i felt no reason to doubt anything the author wrote. he has done a wonderful service in demythologizing folk musicians and giving us entree to their experience -- their hopes, dreams, disappointments, and daily life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The roots of "our" music..., September 16, 2013
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Peter Jackson (Spring Lake, MI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (Music in American Life) (Hardcover)
This is a very unique book. First, it comes with a CD, with all the songs on that CD that are covered in the book. This book is a very detailed read. The research and time that went into this book is nothing short of mind boggling. The author (Stephen Wade) obviously went to great lengths and depths to uncover the information of the history and development of each of these chosen songs. These songs were recorded back in the 1930's and 1940's, in peoples houses, garages, kitchens, outside, in a school gymnasium, and in churches. They are most likely artists the average american has never heard, and I would even say, a lot of people who are familiar with folk music probably don't know who these performers are. But many of these songs have grown over time and traveled over geography, changed by both time and geography, and would be recognizable by many. The author takes each song, and unearths and uproots it, exposing all of its roots, and then with a academic eye, describes each root, one by one, and how each root has an influence over another, and how they both nourish and develop into the song we know now. Its not only with an academic eye the author shows you the song, but there is a palpable passion for this music that comes thru loud and clear in each paragraph. You can tell that the author really loves this music. More than that, you can tell that the author cares very much for these performers. Some of these people are elderly now, and some have passed on. In the latter case, the author makes connections with living relatives and friends. The music is important here for sure, but the author allows you into a precious world that only he experienced: getting to know the people behind these songs. And this music is about these people, these performers. I so wish there was a Volume 2.

Stephen Wade does a multimedia presentation of the book and certain venues. I saw him at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. Captivating. If he does come to a venue near you, it is certainly worth your time to go. You will not be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American traditional music, June 2, 2013
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This review is from: The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (Music in American Life) (Hardcover)
This book, complete with CD, is a treasure of information, history and obscure facts. The author viisted Mississippi in the '90s and interviewed folks who are related to or who knew the performers. The performers were, for the most part, "ordinary" people who sing traditional music from the heart and were recorded by people like John and Alan Lomax in the '30s and '40s. Some of those cuts are on the enclosed CD.

If you love traditional music and/or the history of the rural south this book is for you. I thought that I knew a lot about both the music and the history of the '30s and '40s in the rural U. S. but this book has taught me plenty. And, it's entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Music Indeed, June 15, 2014
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This review is from: The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (Music in American Life) (Hardcover)
This book is such a treasure. Preserving our heritage and culture is very important. We are still a young nation, but we are a vital and creative one. Stephen's book shines a light on the cradles of American creativity. The accompanying CD takes the listener right back home into the holler where folks make music to lift the spirits and move the work along. Great work!
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4.0 out of 5 stars For the true believer, May 29, 2014
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This review is from: The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (Music in American Life) (Hardcover)
Worth it for the CD alone. This book is a nice compliment to the Lomax recordings and goes back into the performances, the artists and rememberances and provides the background information Lomax could not. It also dwells on what I consider to be trivialities that only someone hopelessly in love with each track would care to know. The book itself it a finely made piece of work and probably the best built book I own. It will be here in the future. Nice background information to compliment the recordings. The CD itself is marvelous. I can't stop listening to Bonaparte's Retreat and Shortnin Bread. Recommended to the true student and admirer of true American Folk Music. A nice compliment to the Biography of Lomax or other books on his recording career. Writing style is a bit labored.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good read, May 10, 2013
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Meticulously researched by the intrepid Stephen Wade. Traces a variety of paths from the rural South to the digital music age. Wade is a worthy successor to the fabled Alan Lomax
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5.0 out of 5 stars Splendidly and lovingly detailed, May 2, 2013
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This review is from: The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (Music in American Life) (Hardcover)
Wade, an accomplished musician himself, traces the histories of some American folksongs by tracking down the folks behind them and giving us their stories and how they came to have their songs recorded by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress. Wade's love for the music and the tradition shines through each page.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Book You Can't Do Without, April 9, 2013
This review is from: The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (Music in American Life) (Hardcover)
Stephen Wade is well known for his exquisite banjo playing and as the star of some of the longest running one-man shows ("Banjo Dancing" and "On the Way Home") that he performed at the Arena Stage in WA DC. Here, however, he reveals the backbone of his playing and performing: the people who made the music he learned. While many musicians and scholars have written about their "sources," Stephen obviously loves them. The meticulous attention he pays to them and their contexts is, perhaps, the greatest compliment anyone can give to another. Like the great writers, he shows rather than just tells. Thus, we are plunged into various streams of lives: a fiddler's wife throwing a chamber pot at her husband, an angelic rich man's wife saving a brilliant banjoist from destitution, a mysterious missing grave for a man who sings of the resurrection.

Stephen leads us back through the generations, with insights and connections that light up the landscape in brilliant ways, whether you are already immersed in folklore studies or entirely new to them. I hesitate to call this a "study" since it is such an electric and enthralling work, but it is that rare event: an inspiring page turner with impeccable scholarship of the type Dorothy Sayers lauded in Gaudy Night.

The CD that accompanies the book is a shorter version of his Treasury of the Library of Congress Field Recordings. That and this book will make you hungry for more of the music, more of the stories. Thanks to our guide, you will know how to hear them in new and deep ways. Give yourself and your friends the gift of this book. Something like this doesn't come along very often.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive., February 21, 2013
This review is from: The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (Music in American Life) (Hardcover)
This is an amazing book and a stunning research effort, yet it reads well and is fascinating in its detail.
I came across Stephen Wade on Youtube, and was very impressed with his banjo playing and his obvious passion for music.
On a whim, I ordered the book, but was not prepared for how extraordinary it really is and how much work went into researching,
traveling, interviewing, etc., etc., to create a book like this one.
In addition, the book itself is beautiful: the quality of the pages, the binding, the quality of the type, etc.
The book itself comes wrapped in plastic and quite honestly, a book like this deserves it.
Can you tell I am impressed?
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The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (Music in American Life)
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