Homegrown Music

Discovering Bluegrass

by Stephanie P. Ledgin


Offers a unique and informative background for readers who want to explore the multifaceted history of bluegrass music and its current popularity.

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Cover image for Homegrown Music

September 2004


Pages 216
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Popular Culture/Music and Performing Arts
  • Award Winner!




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With retail sales of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack exceeding 6.5 million copies since its 2000 release, bluegrass music has re-entered the spotlight as a major American style, spawning huge successes with subsequent albums. Author Stephanie P. Ledgin has captured the rich history of this music in Homegrown Music, a lively, informative book that is perfect for newcomers and devoted fans, musicians, and non-musicians. Though recognized and embraced internationally, bluegrass is one of only two musical genres native to America and, like jazz, it boasts a colorful and lively history, one that is captured here in all its detail complete with candid interviews with such legends as Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Covering such aspects of bluegrass as instrumentation, songs, the festival experience, and parking lot picking, Homegrown Music also offers candid interviews with many celebrated bluegrass figures. An extensive up-to-the-minute resource guide of print, audio-visual, and Internet materials rounds out the volume. Enthusiasts of all ages will find much to discover and much to enjoy.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ricky SkaggsPrefaceAcknowledgmentsIntroduction: O Bluegrass, Where Art Thou?Homegrown Music: What Is Bluegrass?The Origins of Bluegrass: A Mosaic of InfluencesBanjo Meets the High Lonesome SoundBluegrass Bends and BlendsFiddling to FlatpickingSongs of Love, Death, Faith, and FamilyPopular Culture: Got Bluegrass?The International Language of BluegrassUp Close: Concerts, Festivals, and Parking Lot Pickin'Pick It Up, Pass It On!On the HorizonDown the Road: Continuing the TraditionAfterword: Rediscovering Bluegrass25 Recordings to Jump Start Your Collection...Plus a Random Sampling of VideosWhere To From Here: Suggested ResourcesSelected Works Consulted



"Ledgin provides a helpful survey of the genre as well as an engaging introduction to the music. . . . helps first-time listeners understand the differences between traditional bluegrass and the new grass. . . . offers an entertaining glimpse of today's bluegrass scene. Every library should own a copy."Library Journal, Starred Review

"Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass takes a thorough look a the music that originated with Bill Monroe and his band, the Bluegrass Boys, in the 1940's. Based on research and interviews with such artists as Ralph Stanley, John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), and Jim Lauderdale, Ledgin traces bluegrass's growth from traditional sounds to modern experimentation. Appendices include 25 recordings to jumpstart your collection, Video: A Random Sampling, and lists of bluegrass publications, books, magazines, and record companies."Dirty Linen

"This book serves as a good primer for anyone who has been bitten by the O Brother bug and wants to immerse him/herself more deeply into bluegrass music. . . . a welcome addition to any organization or library wishing to provide a fantastic primer on bluegrass to its membership or patrons."TriState Bluegrass Journal

"[A] lively, readable introduction to this distinctly American form. . . . If you've ever wondered what bluegrass was all about, here's a great place to begin."Boston Sunday Globe

"[A] great guide for people new to the music, or for fans or players who want to learn more about bluegrass and to find more of it. The book covers all aspects of the music from the past to the present: its history, the instruments, the songs, the players, the recordings, the music in popular culture, its international appeal, the festival culture, and where it is heading. . . . Homegrown Music is an informative and easytoread book by someone who knows a lot about the music. It's the perfect introduction for those interested in knowing more about bluegrass and a needed addition to the canon of bluegrass scholarship."Bluegrass Unlimited

"If you are new to bluegrass because of O Brother Where Art Thou?, or you just want a refresher course in the history of one of the most treasured types of music, you should purchase Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass. Stephanie P. Ledgin has written a wonderful book."

"This expert introduction to Appalachian mountain music and its offshoots, bluegrass and newgrass, should be required reading for every newly-appointed or elected student Bluegrass Director in the college and university radio stations across America which have just discovered the power of the music thro such vehicles as the film, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (referenced frequently thru this text), and who need this kind of thorough rounding in the music they have come to recently and with great curiosity. . . . a cornucopia of riches."TheDigitalFolkLife.Org

"An authoritative, wide-ranging, inspiring study of bluegrass music. . . . points the initiated to numerous ways to expand their knowledge of the genre, its practitioners and products. Suggested resources include recordings, books, museums, print and online publications, festivals, broadcasts, retail outlets, instrument instruction and organiztions that shepherd the art."Bluegrass Music Profiles

"If you or someone you know is just discovering bluegrass music, you might want to take a look at Stephanie Ledgin's new book, Homegrown Music. . . . a very readable primer for bluegrass newbies. And even if you've been around the music awhile, you'll still enjoy her 25 recordings to jump-start your collection."Messenger Inquirer

"[W]hat she has provided is not a definitive, finished road map of where bluegrass has come from and where it will ultimately go--no such map can ever exist really. More accurately and usefully, she's provided a set of mileposts and signposts for the new travelers to follow, or not, as they choose. It's an easy read, and if you're looking to get your feet wet in bluegrass, a good place to jump in."Sing Out!

"If you wanted to recommend one book to someone new to our music this one is pretty damn good."Bluegrass Now


"Reading Stephanie Ledgin's book about bluegrass music allowed me to re-live all of the circumstances that led me to a life long love affair with this invigorating and highly disciplined American musical art form. Stephanie takes the reader through the many projects and personalities that have made the bluegrass movement a real one."—Mark O'Connor, violinist, composer, fiddler

"This book is a great introduction to bluegrass. Stephanie Ledgin draws on years of experience and affection for the music, and covers the bases in a swift-moving, concise style. People new to the music need an up-to-date, wide-ranging look at the music's history and leading artists. This is it."—Pete Wernick (Dr. Banjo),former President, International Bluegrass Music Association

"Represents all of the bluegrass music community with sensitivity and intelligence. This book will help newcomers get the overview."—Béla Fleck, banjoist

"When Stephanie Ledgin first described her book to me, I thought it too daunting a task to take on for one person. How could she possibly catch all that is out there in this diverse world of players and keep it interesting? Well, Stephanie Ledgin did just that, and wrote a book I highly recommend to anyone interested in what is behind the sounds that make up the backbone of one of America's best world influences."—John McEuen, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band


International Bluegrass Music Award, Print Media Personality of the Year, 2005

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