The life and music of a bluegrass pioneer, in his own words... A pivotal member of the hugely successful bluegrass band Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, Dobro pioneer Josh Graves (1927–2006) was a living link between bluegrass music and the blues, maintaining ties with black artists and comporting himself as a classic bluesman with a gold tooth and snappy headgear. In Bluegrass Bluesman, this influential performer shares the story of his lifelong career in music. The 176 page Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir by Josh Graves was released, last September from the University of Illinois Press. Bluegrass Unlimited says, "Yet another must-read book from the University of Illinois Press." The volume has been awarded a Certificate of Merit in the Best Research in Recorded Country Music Category. The book was up for Best Historical Research in Recorded Folk, Ethnic, or Country Music by the association . Last year, Crowe on the Banjo: The Music Life of J. D. Crowe by Marty Godbey won in the History category.
The Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and study of sound recordings, in all genres of music and speech, in all formats, and from all periods. ARSC is unique in bringing together private individuals and institutional professionals—everyone with a serious interest in recorded sound.
Fred Bartenstein, who edited the volume, is excited that the book he edited is coming out in September from University of Illinois Press. Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir by Josh Graves tells the fascinating story of his life -- from mountainous East Tennessee, to the road with Flatt & Scruggs, to a solo and sideman career, to reflections on the present and future of bluegrass music. Josh is a great storyteller. There are never-published photos, tributes from more than 20 contemporaries and disciples, and information on Josh's instruments and repertoire.
In lively anecdotes, Graves describes his upbringing in East Tennessee and the climate in which bluegrass music emerged during the 1940s. Deeply influenced by the blues, he adapted Earl Scruggs's revolutionary banjo style to the Dobro resonator slide guitar and gave the Foggy Mountain Boys their distinctive sound.
Graves's accounts of daily life on tour through the 1950s and 1960s reveal the band's dedication to musical excellence, Scruggs's leadership, and an often grueling life on the road. He also comments on his later career when he played in Lester Flatt's Nashville Grass and the Earl Scruggs Revue and collaborated with the likes of Boz Scaggs, Charlie McCoy, Kenny Baker, Eddie Adcock, Jesse McReynolds, Marty Stuart, Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, and his three musical sons. A colorful storyteller, Graves brings to life the world of an American troubadour and the mountain culture that he never left behind. Also included are tributes from more than twenty of Josh Graves's musical contemporaries and disciples, along with material on his instruments and repertoire.
Born in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, Josh Graves (1927–2006) is universally acknowledged as the father of the bluegrass Dobro. In 1997 he was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Fred Bartenstein has performed many roles in bluegrass music, including magazine editor, broadcaster, musician, festival MC, talent director, scholar, and consultant. He lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
"Graves's name won't ring a bell for many outside musicians' circles, but Burkett "Uncle Josh" Graves helped take bluegrass from southern Appalachia to college campuses and beyond, to the world-music status it enjoys today. . . . Bluegrass Bluesman is unfiltered, off-the-cuff oral history."
-- The Wall Street Journal
"An excellent autobiography of a highly creative musician. Graves was a first-rate storyteller with a discerning sense of what was important in his many memorable experiences.”
-- John Wright, author of Traveling the High Way Home: Ralph Stanley and the World of Traditional Bluegrass Music
"Josh Graves inspired hundreds of musicians to pick up the steel bar and slide it over the strings of the Dobro.... It’s good and fitting that the story of this talented and influential musician is being preserved in his own words.”
-- from Neil Rosenberg’s foreword to the book
Fred Bartenstein has performed many roles in bluegrass music, including magazine editor, broadcaster, musician, festival MC, talent director, scholar, and consultant. Named a Distinguished Achievement Award recipient by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2006, Bartenstein lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
The book is available now at Fred Bartenstein's web site and other outlets.