January 18, 2002 Bluegrass Odyssey Explores Roots of a Uniquely American Musical Form

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public Contact: American Folklife Center (202) 707-5510

On February 27, Dr. Neil Rosenberg and Carl Fleischhauer will present an illustrated lecture based on their newly published book, Bluegrass Odyssey: A Documentary in Pictures and Words, 1966-86. The lecture will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Mumford Room of the James Madison Building of the Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E. There will be a book signing following the presentation. The program is free and open to the public.

The event is sponsored by the American Folklife Center, the Center for the Book and the Office of Scholarly Programs at the Library of Congress.

The fruit of four decades of collaboration between bluegrass music's premier historian and photographer, Bluegrass Odyssey is a fascinating and alluring journey into the heart of a quintessentially American musical form. Combining Neil Rosenberg's commentary with more than 200 of Carl Fleischhauer's photographs, this elegant publication captures both the musicians who create the music and the culture and community that foster it.

Mr. Fleischhauer's striking photographs explore festival stages, grassy hillsides, workingclass and upscale clubs, barbershops, and parking lot jam sessions where bluegrass thrives. In addition to offering images that document the bluegrass milieu, Mr. Fleischhauer also offers classic performance portraits of seminal bluegrass musicians such as Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Martin, and the Country Gentlemen, as well as Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stewart, Jerry Douglas, J. D. Crowe, the New Grass Revival, the Seldom Scene, and the Johnson Mountain Boys in their formative years.

Dr. Rosenberg's narrative explores the dynamics of bluegrass performance, from the practice of "ganging around the mike" to the tight harmonies and intricate exchanges as players respond to each other's music. Noting the blend of influences that have shaped bluegrass - ranging from roots deep in the rural South, through the factories and offices of Baltimore, Dayton, and Cincinnati to which many rural Southerners migrated to the more sophisticated urban influences of places such as Washington, D.C. - Dr. Rosenberg traces the genre's emergence as a fully realized musical culture deeply rooted in community and family.

Neil V. Rosenberg, professor of folklore and graduate studies administrator at Memorial University of Newfoundland, is the author of Bluegrass: A History, Transforming Tradition: Folk Music Revivals Examined and numerous other books, as well as more than 65 articles in books, journals, and periodicals. In 1998 he won a Grammy Award for best album notes for his contribution to the Anthology of American Folk Music, produced by Smithsonian Folkways.

Carl Fleischhauer is now developing new approaches to the preservation of the Library of Congress's audio and video holdings. For many years he was a folklife specialist at the American Folklife Center, where he produced a videodisc, The Ninety Six Ranch: A Cattle Ranch in Northern Nevada (1985), and edited a number of publications, including Blue Ridge Harvest: A Region's Folklife in Photographs (1981), The Grouse Creek Cultural Survey (1988), and for the University of California Press, Documenting America, 1935-43 (1988).

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. Visit the AFC Web site at www.loc.gov/folklife.

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress was established in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books, reading, and libraries. For information about its program, publications, and the activities of its affiliated centers for the book in 44 states and the District of Columbia, visit its Web site at www.loc.gov/cfbook.

The Office of Scholarly Programs exists to stimulate scholarly exchange among researchers and staff and to facilitate communication about research across national and disciplinary boundaries.


PR 02-004
ISSN 0731-3527