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True Adventures with the King of Bluegrass (Portraits in Country Music)
Synopses & Reviews
Jimmy Martin was just twenty-two years old when Bill Monroe asked him to join the Blue Grass Boys. That invitation was the start of a fifty-year recording career, recently celebrated with Martin's induction into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Honor. At age seventy-two, he still regularly performs with his band, the Sunny Mountain Boys. Yet the man himself remains an obscure figure, compared with other bluegrass greats like Ralph Stanley or the Osborne Brothers. Fiction writer and music critic Tom Piazza couldn't understand why Martin wasn't better known. So, on assignment from the Oxford American magazine, he drove from his home in New Orleans to Nashville to find out. Although aware that Martin had "a reputation as a heavy drinker and a volatile personality," Piazza found himself pitched headlong into a world he couldn't have anticipated. Martin's mercurial personality drew the writer into a series of escalating encounters (with mean dogs, broken down cars, and near electrocution), culminating in a harrowing and unforgettable expedition, with Martin, to the Grand Ole Opry.
Piazza captured his visit with Martin in supple, electric prose, and the result, when it appeared in the Oxford American, quickly became a word-of-mouth sensation among musicians and fans alike. Included in this keepsake edition are a new afterword by Piazza, an essay on Martin's recordings, and a timeline of Martin's career.
True Adventures with the King of Bluegrass is a funny, scary, and powerfully poignant portrait of one of the living legends of American music.
Co-published with the Country Music Foundation Press
An unforgettable account of one of the last of the country music originals.
Baptized in the same fire that gave us Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, this reigning King of Bluegrass (Jimmy Martin) is no doubt a charter member of the elite fraternity of southern musicians that helped forge what the world now knows as bluegrass, rockabilly, country, and rock 'n' roll music. . . . Time spent with the King of Bluegrass is not for the lily-livered or the faint of heart.
About the Author
Tom Piazza's writing on American music has appeared in the Sunday New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, and The Village Voice. He is the author of The Guide to Classic Recorded Jazz (University of Iowa Press), which won the ASCAP-Deems Taylor award for music writing, and Blues and Trouble (St. Martin's Press), which won a James Michener award for fiction. He lives in New Orleans and is working on a novel.
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