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.
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.
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.
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!
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.