America Unfiltered: The World Of Old-Time Music

Again and again the story of old-time music features collisions between the unschooled, working-class originators and their educated, middle-class fans. It could be Joe Thompson meeting Flemons, Jay Ungar meeting Mike Merenda, Doc Watson meeting Ketch Secor, Woody Guthrie meeting Pete Seeger, Hazel Dickens meeting Mike Seeger, Bukka White meeting John Fahey, Bill Monroe meeting Peter Rowan or the Reverend Gary Davis meeting Bob Weir. In most cases, both parties were changed forever. For the older musician, the encounter opened a door to new audiences and a new way of thinking about music as something more than a diversion from hard work. For the younger acolyte, it opened a door to a vast treasury of songs and performance styles that had escaped time by outliving their inventors. Such a collision is recounted once more in the just-published book, Ola Belle Reed And Southern Mountain Music On The Mason-Dixon Line. The authors Henry Glassie, Clifford R. Murphy and Douglas Dowling Peach are academic folklorists (and write like such), but they tell a fascinating story of how Reed’s relatives and neighbors moved more or less en masse from the northwestern corner of North Carolina to the northeastern corner of Maryland in search…

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