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Thread: Pandemic Reading

  1. #1
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Pandemic Reading

    Hoping people will chime in with mandolin rich reading suggestions. I'm finding I have more time than I have had since retiring seven years ago. We often hear people say they don't know how they had time to work. People that still work scoff. But it is soooo
    true, but the pandemic changes everything. My day's are now made up of solo playing, walking, bicycling, and reading. The worse is no RV travel which we typically did 8 months out of the year.
    Since isolation began I have read several books. Mostly about musicians who's music was inspirational to me. But now I would like to find some recommended books that are mandolin specific.
    Is The Mandolin in America a good read and a possible starting point?
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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    I feel like your interest may be more toward biographies and what I might call "fact books", but if you like novels, I recently read "The Mandolin Case" by Tom Bibey, which I liked quite a bit, and right now I am reading "The Hanging Stones", one of the Silver John novels by Manly Wade Wellman - no mandolin content, but there is John's silver strung guitar and plenty of Appalachian folk culture. Kind of creepy but John is a very interesting character. It's the fourth book I've read, the first one was many years ago.

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    Registered User tassiespirit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Honestly I can't stand reading much now that I am older, as I feel I am missing out on "doing" stuff. Same with these restrictions, that is way I have several hobbies in my shed. I mainly do leather work - wallet and mandolin/guitar/ bass straps belts kids things etc. Plus I have a CO2 Laser that I use on the leather, Perspex and wood. Then I have a leather industrial sewing machine for the leather, but I end up sewing mandolin straps or belts or fixing back packs and now sewing cushions for the wife lol.

    In other words be adaptable and look for something to do rather than sitting there saying I am going mad with these restrictions because I can't!

    The only way you are going to keep good mental health is to push your brain to do learn and remember things. I have had a break from the mandolin for around 9 years, and now I am getting back to relearning the muscle memory I once had.

    Man am I rusty and slower than I ever thought, but I can do it ( I think) and my 64 birthday is coming up so....... that song comes to mind. " When I'm Sixty-Four - The Beatles"

    Oh yeah I did some cleaning out the other day and found about 20 copies of the old FRETS magazine - now, I might make an exception there for reading something.



    Allan
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  5. #4
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Quote Originally Posted by tassiespirit View Post

    In other words be adaptable and look for something to do rather than sitting there saying I am going mad with these restrictions because I can't!

    Oh yeah I did some cleaning out the other day and found about 20 copies of the old FRETS magazine - now, I might make an exception there for reading something.

    Allan
    Allan Not going mad at all with these restrictions. I still play mandolin/mandola at least two hours a day. Walk 3 to 5 miles every day regardless of weather and bicycle 10 to 20 miles a day when the temperature peaks above 35 F. It is just that I now have time to read and at 70 years of age finding time to read provides me with rest time I enjoy after all the physical activity. Pickle ball will be back on my activities list after I feel safe from Covid. USE IT OR LOOSE IT!
    ALSO: I advise people to get rid of their television. We have not had one in nearly 30 years and I will never have another (though I do miss seeing the highlights of tennis tournaments). News has to come from NPR and BBC.
    NOW to get back to reading recommendations.
    Bill
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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Satan is Real is a great book, story of the Louvin brothers.
    Play it like you mean it

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    I always recommend Blues Mandolin Man: The Life and Times of Yank Rachell by Richard Congress.

    Quote Originally Posted by tassiespirit View Post
    Man am I rusty and slower than I ever thought, but I can do it ( I think) and my 64 birthday is coming up so....... that song comes to mind. " When I'm Sixty-Four - The Beatles"
    Allan
    Allan, you could try this classic Newfoundland folksong, "Now, I'm 64", though it's rather sad. I sang both 64 songs on my 64th birthday.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3PN...oldirishladdie

    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Registered User tassiespirit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Bill, keep active no matter what age you are is the best thing.
    Ronald, just love that one too, sad but nice in it's own right.

    Thanks guys


    Allan
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    This might fall into the " When life gives you lemons .... " category but here we go. With the onslaught of Covid last spring and an impending hip replacement I realized I would have a lot of time on my hands in 2020. So I decided I would take advantage of it and part of that was going to be practicing every day. Mandolin and fiddle practice not just repetition. I went off on a few musical tangents on the way. Lots of Irish fiddle tunes, and that led to New England fiddle tunes, and very recently French Canadian fiddle tunes. I set up my Yamaha electric piano after 20 years and dug out the old lesson books. Great for learning note reading, time signatures, etc. No I'm not trying to become a great pianist but it's a good way to dig a little bit into some basic music theory. With winter settling in Western NY I figured I might as well take advantage and really work on my mandolin and fiddle practice. ( I'm lucky I guess because I really like practicing)
    And catching up on reading lots of John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwell mysteries and Military History.

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    Registered User Lucas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Bill:

    Do you like Ricky Skaggs? I am currently reading his autobiography "Kentucky Traveler". It's a bit of a history book too because he talks about the time he got to perform with Bill Monroe, and then talks about his time touring with Ralph Stanley, plus other bands that he played in. I am mid way through the book, so I can't tell you how it ends, but so far I am enjoying it.

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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    I recently picked up "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" from the local library's paperback trading post. I haven't gotten to it yet. I understand the title instrument is somewhat of a bit player in the tory. When I get around to reading it, I'll let you know if I think it's worth your time.
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    I highly recommend "If It Sounds Good, It Is Good" By Richard Manning. No mandolin content, but a great read for any musician.
    "it's not in bad taste, if it's funny" - john waters

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  20. #12

    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Never Too Late by John Holt. Not sure when it was published, but I'm guessing seventies. No mandolin content, but it's a great book about an adult beginner taking up cello (after a brief dalliance with flute), and is full of wonderful descriptions of the difficulties, and more importantly the joys, of learning a musical instrument.

    On a somewhat similar tack, I also enjoyed the book Play It Again, by Alan Rusbridger, about trying to master a difficult Chopin piece. Both Rusbridger and Holt were very busy people at the time they were documenting their thoughts on learning music, though unlike Rusbridger who talks a lot about his job as a newspaper editor, Holt barely mentions his other work.

    If you do read either of these and enjoy, I have a few other similar recommendations, but two's enough for now I think!

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    I feel like your interest may be more toward biographies and what I might call "fact books", but if you like novels, I recently read "The Mandolin Case" by Tom Bibey, which I liked quite a bit, and right now I am reading "The Hanging Stones", one of the Silver John novels by Manly Wade Wellman - no mandolin content, but there is John's silver strung guitar and plenty of Appalachian folk culture. Kind of creepy but John is a very interesting character. It's the fourth book I've read, the first one was many years ago.
    If you can find it, get the collected Silver John short stories. They are much better, IMO.

    Yes, Mandolin in America is a good book. Lots of pictures but good text. I just picked up a copy of Graham McDonald's "The Mandolin A History" and it's excellent.
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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    [QUOTE=Eric Platt;1803449]If you can find it, get the collected Silver John short stories. They are much better, IMO.

    I have it waiting. I'd bought that and The Standing Stones a year or so ago and forgot about it. I recall I watched Ebay for several months for a reasonably priced copy.

    Do you have the "Special Edition" of Mandolin in America?

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    [QUOTE=Sue Rieter;1803456]
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    If you can find it, get the collected Silver John short stories. They are much better, IMO.

    I have it waiting. I'd bought that and The Standing Stones a year or so ago and forgot about it. I recall I watched Ebay for several months for a reasonably priced copy.

    Do you have the "Special Edition" of Mandolin in America?
    If I did have a copy, I couldn't tell you.

    Another novel worth reading with a lot of music woven into the fabric is The Little Country by Charles de Lint.
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Not about a mandolin, but "Clapton's Guitar" is a great book about Wayne Henderson and building a guitar for Eric Clapton. Lot's of very interesting guitar history, especially Martins, and Appalachian folklore. Another good one is Ralph Stanley's autobiography "Man of Constant Sorrow". Really interesting insights about what it was like to be a country musician trying to make a living through the early years, and beyond. I highly recommend both.
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Mandolin in America is good, but I found the pictures to be the best part.

    I really loved The Mandolin: A History. I read it cover to cover just a month ago.

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  31. #18

    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    The Bill Monroe bios by Ewing and Smith are good. The book “Come hither go Yonder” by Bob Black was good. The Ralph Stanley and Louvin Bros books are good too. “Will you miss me when I’m gone” is a good one on the Carter Family.

    Victor Wooten wrote a book called “The Music Lesson” I liked alot, and finally because you didn’t ask I read all the books from the Keith Mccaferty Sean Stranahan series, fly fishing murder mysteries set in Montana.

    There are threads here that have books recommend by members, here are 2...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ng+suggestions

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ng+suggestions

    So, not so many mando specific ones here but I enjoyed all of them.
    Last edited by bigskygirl; Jan-10-2021 at 12:38pm. Reason: Add thoughts, links
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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    Victor Wooten wrote a book called “The Music Lesson” I liked alot, and finally because you didn’t ask I read all the books from the Keith Mccaferty Sean Stranahan series, fly fishing murder mysteries set in Montana..
    I'm going to go look for those Montana books, because I like Tony (and Anne) Hillerman, C.J. Box, and Craig Johnson (NMC).

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    I got Dick Spottswood's The Blue Sky Boys for Christmas, and frankly, was disappointed. It turned out to be largely transcribed quotes from interviews with Bill Bolick (Bill and brother Earl were the Blue Sky Boys), which he prolifically gave to various publications in his later years. There's a historical narrative that frames the quotes, but a lot of it was the "in 1936 they played on Radio Station X in Raleigh for half the year, before going to Radio Station Y in Atlanta" genre. Most of the last half of the book is given to song-by-song coverage of their entire recorded repertoire, with citations of sources and other recordings; might be of interest to real Blue Sky Boys freaks, but even I -- a big BSB fan -- found myself skipping through it.

    I continue to recommend the Curly Seckler biography, Foggy Mountain Troubadour, which, while containing a lot of "Radio Station X/Radio Station Y" content, does give a sometimes gritty picture of the hardscrabble life of a less-than-famous bluegrass musician from the late 1930's into the 21st century.

    I do have to warn that neither book goes into any great detail about Bolick's or Seckler's mandolin playing -- a little more about Bolick's, because he consciously tried to make his Martin mandolin a "third voice" in his brother duet.
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  37. #21
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    You could try "The Mandolin Lesson" by Frances Taylor http://themandolinlesson.com/the_book.htm

    an autobiographical story of self discovery centred around a passion for the mandolin.
    Eoin



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  39. #22

    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    I sure do get a lot of mileage out of this pic. John Hartford's Mammoth book of fiddle tunes. Should keep you busy for a while.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  41. #23
    Registered User JH Murray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Victor Wooten's The Music Lesson. While Wooten's novel is about a bass player, it is really about his philosophy of music and life.

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  43. #24
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    I want to thank responders for providing me with a great music/mandolin reading list that will hopefully keep me busy until the end of social isolation. I ordered Graham McDonald's book and received it today. Wow! I had been pining for this book but held off on ordering it due to it's steep price. Actually, I was hoping my wife would get it for me as a Christmas present, but she missed my hints. I'm glad recommendations here influenced me to purchase it. I also ordered The Mandolin in America, but it will not arrive for a few days.
    Many other great suggestions, of which, a hand full I have already read. I am making a list of those recommended I have not read. These, too, will end up in my music library.
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Harley Benton A style (grandchildren's learner)

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  45. #25
    Registered User JH Murray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pandemic Reading

    Time to give this thread a bump. Has anyone read Victor Wooten's new book "The Spirit of Music"? I've just ordered my copy. The line “Music brings people together, not only to feel, but to agree on what we feel.” intrigues me. Wooten believes music is a social language, and our privatizing it with headphones is killing music. Going to be an interesting conversation I think.

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