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Thread: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

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    Default Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    Hi Forum,

    I am looking for suggestions on some reading material related to mandolin playing/ American bluegrass culture etc. Fun/interesting stuff to read before bed. Not necessarily instructional or theory based. I like biography's, historical, and non-fiction. Thanks for any help.

    Andy

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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    You should pick up the suite of Mandolin World News issues, spearheaded by Grisman from 1976 until its demise in 1984. Full of interesting and fun-to-read stuff.

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    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    Quote Originally Posted by palmettobum View Post
    Hi Forum,

    I am looking for suggestions on some reading material related to mandolin playing/ American bluegrass culture etc. Fun/interesting stuff to read before bed. Not necessarily instructional or theory based. I like biography's, historical, and non-fiction. Thanks for any help.

    Andy
    I read a lot of books and am always game for anything relating to mandolin so here are some of my favorite picks:

    My highest recommendation is the new book from the late Charlie Louvin, Satan Is Real. Probably best book I can think of in recent years. It's one of those you can't put down and everyone I've loaned my book to has said the same.

    Bean Blossom: The Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Festivals is a great choice, albeit a little dry in writing style but some terrific stories there.

    Valentine's Fall - a great fictional book from a Canadian writer who is a bluegrass player. I don't think this book ever got the attention it deserved. He's an experience writer who can really put a story together that hooks you and keeps you there.

    Can't You Hear Me Callin, The Life of Bill Monroe is a must read just because it stirred up so much controversy in the bluegrass community.

    May add more later. Lots of good choices out there.

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    While not exactly bluegrass culture/mandolin-related, Victor Wooten's The Music Lesson is entertaining and will make you think about how you play music.
    Palatable to a Goat: New Music from Gregg Daigle and Don Grieser, now on bandcamp
    http://HillbillyChamberMusic.bandcamp.com

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    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
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    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    Here's a page full of books probably most of you have never seen, part of a virtual tour of Monroe's grave. You've been warned: click on those links and I make pennies if you make a purchase.

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    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    Some good ideas here already! I'd add:

    Bluegrass Breakdown: The Making of the Old Southern Sound by Robert Cantrell
    Bluegrass: A History by Neil Rosenberg
    The Bluegrass Reader
    Exploring Classical Mandolin (Berklee Press, 2015)
    Progressive Melodies for Mandocello (Amazon, 2019)
    New Solos for Classical Mandolin (Hal Leonard Press, 2020)

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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    I heartily second Scott's "Satan Is Real" recommendation. Great book!
    Let's all go back to 78 rpm!

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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    I highly recommend this book

    http://www.bluegrassmuseum.org/store/product9.html

    My wife sleeps with the author and she recommends it too.

    Dennis Sattelee

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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    If you'd like something scholarly, I recommend "Mandolins in the United States since 1880 : an industrial and sociocultural history of form" by Scott Hambly. This is his PhD dissertation. IIRC Scott Hambly played mandolin with one of the first SF Bay Area bluegrass bands, the Redwood Canyon Ramblers. There are two parts to the dissertation, your local public library can probably get it for you on Interlibrary Loan.
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    Add Still Inside, Tony Rice autobiography. Fascinating glimpse into the iconic guitar man.

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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    I am currently reading "Man of Constant Sorrow - My Life and Times" by Ralph Stanley.
    So far I love it...

    http://www.amazon.com/Man-Constant-S...=ralph+stanley
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    Lost my boots in transit terzinator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Geordie View Post
    I heartily second Scott's "Satan Is Real" recommendation. Great book!
    Planning to download it to my Kindle for some great vacation reading for the July 4th week! (I'll probably jump the gun and get it early and be looking for something else for my week off!)

    If I do, I'll probably get the Bill Monroe bio that Scott also mentioned.

    Allen St. John's book "Claption's Guitar" isn't directly mandolin-related, but it's about Wayne Henderson. The book really made a large audience aware of Wayne's reputation for his wonderful guitars and mandolins. Very enjoyable.

  16. #14

    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    A lot of cool stuff here.
    I have several books from here.

    http://www.nativeground.com/

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    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    Great suggestions. I really enjoyed Can't You Hear Me Callin', Bossmen, and the Bill Monroe Reader. Satan Is Real is on my bedside table now. Not much mandolin content, but Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone--about the Carter Family--is pretty fascinating.

    http://www.amazon.com/Carter-Family-.../dp/074324382X

    For something a little further afield, Lee Smith's novels are woven through with threads of Appalachian music, and Devil's Dream follows a musical family through several generations, from the mountainside to the Grand Ole Opry and beyond. Lots of fun.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Devils-Dre.../dp/B0058M6SCO
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    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    "Clapton's Guitar" is a great biography of Wayne Henderson. Wayne is an excellent player, a legendary guitar/mandolin maker and a remarkable person. The book chronicles his making a guitar for Eric Clapton but the book isn't really about the guitar.

  19. #17

    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    Second the recommendation for "Will You Miss Me When I am Gone" it is a very well written book and if you have any interest in the roots of American country music it is a must read. Not much mando content, but "Chronicles" Bob Dylan's autobiography is a great book. He is an interesting writer and it is not a typical autobiography. There is a lot about the early days in the NYC folk scene that is really interesting. Also, read one of the two main Woody Guthrie bios "A Life" by Joe Klein or "Ramblin' Man" by Ed Cray. His life story is fascinating to me.

  20. #18

    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    Hey Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions. Excellent thread. Keep 'em coming! Just what I was looking for.

    So many great deals out there on used books through Amazon and ebay too! Looks like I am flush with reading through the summer!

  21. #19
    Highly Lonesome Marty Henrickson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    This is a great thread, and right up my alley. I will be buying some of these books (the ones I don't already have).

    I'll also add a few more to the list:

    Garcia: An American Life - by Blair Jackson - an interesting and in-depth biography of the late guitarist and pop-culture icon who had his roots in acoustic music.

    Blind But Now I See - Dr. Kent Gustavson recently updated his biography of Doc. I read the original edition, and Doc's story is fascinating and touching. I have received the updated edition, but haven't had a chance to read it yet.

    Lovesick Blues - by Paul Hemphill, is an excellent biography of the tortured existence and tragic demise of one of our greatest songwriters, Hank Williams.

    Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times - the autobiography of Dr. Ralph Stanley is full of interesting stories from the early days of bluegrass. Dr. Ralph can be very opinionated, and doesn't mind sharing those opinions.

    'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: The Life of Jimi Hendrix - I read David Henderson's biography of Hendrix probably 15-20 years ago, but I remember that it was in-depth and offered insight into the music as well as the life of arguably the greatest and most innovative rock guitarist ever.

    Cold Mountain is a novel by Charles Frazier set during the Civil War that is steeped in music.
    Last edited by Marty Henrickson; Jun-27-2012 at 3:38pm. Reason: added list
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    No mandolin content here, nevertheless, I'd recommend Jaco by Bill Milkowski, the biography of innovative jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius. Hugely inspirational as someone who overcome the odds and serious mental health problems to become a musical genius before tragically succumbing to his demons.
    GerryHastie

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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    Guitar Zero by Gary Marcus

    Tells the story of an adult player who takes up the guitar. A self confessed lack of music ability kept him from trying but desire finally overcame his reticence. Besides being an interesting personal story, Gary also delves into mind science using his professional psychologist background.

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    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    I just found a cheap hardcover copy of Can't You Hear Me Callin' online last week. It arrived in fantastic condition. Next I'll be reading the Louvin Brothers bio, Santan Is Real. Might inspire me to practice a bit more!
    Eastman 605, Strad-o-lin, and Kentucky 300e mandolins.

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    Registered User jmkatcher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Geordie View Post
    I heartily second Scott's "Satan Is Real" recommendation. Great book!
    I'd like to third Scott's recommendation, having checked out "Satan Is Real" from my local library.

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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    rock n roll science fiction...

    Amazon: Lewis Shiner - "Glimpses"

    Shiner ( Slam , LJ 8/1/90, among others) has written what may be the first rock n roll time-travel novel. Ray Chackleford is a self-employed electronics repairman whose marriage is foundering and whose father has recently died. These unresolved relationships are complicated when Ray travels to the Mexican site of his father's death and promptly falls in love with a woman even more unstable than he. In the midst of this emotional turmoil, Ray--a rock drummer during his youth in the late Sixties--begins to hear in his head and manages to transfer to tape legendary unfinished recordings by Jim Morrison, Brian Wilson, and Jimi Hendrix. This music is accompanied by "journeys" into the troubled lives of these rock musicians. Shiner's appealing main character and his gripping style overcome the less believable aspects of his story. With the current comeback of the Sixties, this novel should be widely popular.

  27. #25
    Highly Lonesome Marty Henrickson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Reading Material? Not Instructional/Theory Books

    I just noticed that there is now a biography of banjo master J.D. Crowe available. That should be worthy of making the list.
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