Capital Bluegrass: Country Music in Washington, D.C

ISBN : 9780199863112

Kip Lornell
368 Pages
156 x 156 mm
Pub date
Dec 2019
American Musicspheres Series
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With its rich but underappreciated musical heritage, Washington, D.C. is often overlooked as a cradle for punk, the birthplace of go go, and as the urban center for bluegrass in the Untied States. Capital Bluegrass: Hillbilly Music Meets Washington, D.C. richly documents the history and development of bluegrass in and around the nation's capital since it emerged in the 1950s. In his seventeenth book, American vernacular music scholar Kip Lornell discusses both well-known progressive bluegrass bands including the Country Gentlemen and the Seldom Scene, and lesser known groups like the Happy Melody Boys, Benny and Vallie Cain and the Country Clan, and Foggy Bottom. Lornell focuses on colorful figures such as the brilliant and eccentric mandolin player, Buzz Busby, and Connie B. Gay, who helped found the Country Music Association in Nashville. Moving beyond the musicians to the institutions that were central to the development of the genre, Lornell brings the reader into the nationally recognized Birchmere Music Hall, and tunes in to NPR powerhouse WAMU-FM, which for five decades broadcast as much as 40 hours a week of bluegrass programming. Dozens of images illuminate the story of bluegrass in the D.C. area, photographs and flyers that will be new to even the most veteran bluegrass enthusiast. Bringing to life a music and musical community integral to the history of the city itself, Capital Bluegrass tells an essential tale of bluegrass in the United States.


Introduction and Thanks
Chapter One: Before Bluegrass (1920s-1946)
Chapter Two: Back Then It Was Called Hillbilly Music (1946-1957)
Chapter Three: Country Gentlemen and The Folk Music Revival (1957-1966)
Chapter Four: Bluegrass Unlimited (1966-1977)
Chapter Five: Not Seldom Heard or Scene (1977-1991)
Chapter Six: 'A Cold Wind A Blowin' (1991-2018)

About the author: 

Kip Lornell has taught courses in Ameircan music and ethnomusicology at George Washington University since 1992. Lornell won a 1997 Grammy for Best Liner Notes for Smithsonian Folkways Anthology of American Folk Music, and Lornell and Charles Wolfe earned the ASCAP-Deems Taylor book award for The Life and Legend of Leadbelly (Harper Collins, 1993). He has been interviewed numerous times on NPR for his expertise on American folk music.

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