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A Shot in the Dark: Making Records in Nashville 1945-1955by Martin Hawkins
Synopses & Reviews
With a "Soundtrack" CD!
Before Elvis hit town, back before country music was synonymous with Nashville, a small group of intrepid entrepreneurs--local businessmen looking to make a buck and have some fun--were recording and selling all the local music they could find. From dance bands to gospel, from rhythm and blues to, yes, country music, these men inadvertently documented a wealth of local music as they struggled to run successful recording studios.
Hawkins goes beyond the music to tell the stories of the behind-the-scenes folks responsible for turning Nashville into Music City U.S.A. From Jim Bulleit, who was there at the very beginnings of the music industry, to Bill Beasley, who took on the emerging Music Row 'establishment' and lost, Hawkins guides us through the careers of the folks who defined Nashville's music scene for an exciting, unpredictable decade and traces the rise and fall of local music labels like Bullet, World, Tennessee, Republic and Speed.
Though the focus of the book is on the recording companies, studios, DJs and other music promoters, it also underlines the importance of some of the giants of Nashville music--like Francis Craig, who recorded an international hit by accident, Owen Bradley, who had a hand in many early labels, Del Wood, the surprise star of honky tonk piano, the fabulous blues singer Christine Kittrell, the underrated R&B bandleader Louis Brooks, the ubiquitous gospel promoter, Wally Fowler, the long-established Fairfield Four, and the king of the rude country song, Randy Hughes.
This book builds off of and develops more fully the research Hawkins did for the critically acclaimed Bear Family Records box collections of Nashville recordings during this same time. Full of lush photographs, many being published here for the first time, and accompanied by a twenty-song CD highlighting the wide range of music being made in Nashville at the time, the book immerses readers in the sights, sounds, and stories of this vibrant and influential decade in Nashville music making.
Co-published with the Country Music Foundation Press
Book News Annotation:
Hawkins traces the development of Nashville as the dominant city in the country music industry from the period of 1945 to 1955. He tells the story of record companies, studios, DJs, and other music promoters, and some musicians. He interviewed many pioneers based in Nashville and relates the story through the viewpoint of local companies such as Bullet Records, Dot Records, Hickory Records, and small labels. A CD containing 20 songs as examples of musical styles is provided. Record label listings (including all the records issued on independent labels during the period), and indexes of song titles, names, and places, are included. B&w photos are incorporated throughout. Hawkins is co-author of Good Rockin' Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock `n' Roll. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Book Plus CD. Martin Hawkins, co-author of the landmark Good Rockin' Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of RockandRoll, describes the formation and the activities of local, independent recording companies in Nashville in the decade following World War II--the heyday of regional companies, before rockandroll and the eventual internationalization of the music business. These labels and their owners evolved from the local jukebox and amusements business and often featured truly local performers. They sometimes aspired to national status--and occasionally they achieved it. The book also describes the infrastructure they worked within and the personal stories of the main label owners and their performers. Finally, it examines the part the labels played in the emergence of Nashville as "Music City USA." The accompanying 20-song CD is the soundtrack to this fascinating story.
About the Author
Martin Hawkins, co-author of Good Rockin' Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock and Roll, is a historian by nature, a career manager in the British health service, and a nocturnal writer of books, articles, and CD booklets. He writes about the people who recorded and promoted regional and ìrootsî music in the days before rock and roll. He is married with two grown-up children, lives in Southern England, and probably plays too much golf and watches too much football.
Table of Contents
1. Walking Down Broad Street
2. The Beginnings: Bullet Records
3. Standing in the Safety Zone: Gospel on Bullet
4. Nashville Jumps: Bullet and the Blues
5. The Musical Miracle: Bullet Goes Pop
6. Music for the World: Bullet's Nashville Competition
7. Bullet Reloaded: 1949-1952
8. Bulleit Enterprises
9. Tennessee Jamboree
10. Republic: The Eagle Flies
11. Boogie-Woogie Jockeys
12. Dot Records: Raising the Standard
13. The Record Center of the South: Nashboro and Excello
14. Broke Waiting for a Break: The Small Labels
15. Publishing Folk Tunes: Fred Rose and Hickory Records
16. Music City USA
17. The End of the Beginning
Map of Nashville Record Company Offices
Record Label Listings
Index of Song Titles
Index of Names and Places
Nashville's Jukebox: Liner Notes
Nashville's Jukebox CD
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