News from University of Illinious Press this week. Here is the first biography of legendary banjoist J. D. Crowe written by Marty Godbey who has documented the life and career of one of bluegrass’s most important innovators.
Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Crowe picked up the banjo when he was thirteen years old. Like many in those early days, he was inspired by a Flatt & Scruggs performance at the Kentucky Barn Dance. Godbey relates the long, distinguished career that followed, as Crowe performed and recorded both solo and as part of such varied ensembles as Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys, the all-acoustic Kentucky Mountain Boys, and the revolutionary New South, who created an adventurously eclectic brand of bluegrass by merging rock and country music influences with traditional forms. Over the decades, this highly influential group launched the careers of many other fresh talents such as Keith Whitley, Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, and Doyle Lawson.
With a selective discography and drawing from more than twenty interviews with Crowe and dozens more with the players who know him best, Crowe on the Banjo: The Music Life of J. D. Crowe is the definitive music biography of a true bluegrass original.
For fans and historians, a book on the music and influence of J. D. Crowe was long overdue, and Marty Godbey’s Crowe on the Banjo fits the bill wonderfully. This account puts Crowe’s importance into clear perspective. The highs and lows of the Lexington bluegrass bar scene are brought to life by someone who obviously had a good seat at the front table while hearing great music played over the din of clinking bottles – Bob Artis, third-generation mandolinist and member of the Allegheny Drifters
A stimulating and informative narrative of the life and work of J. D. Crowe, a seminal figure in the development of latter-day bluegrass music. Marty Godbey admirably pinpoints the importance of Crowe’s influences as a banjo player and band leader and how his sound has become the standard for a sizeable segment of the bluegrass music industry.”–Alan Munde, bluegrass banjoist and leader of the Alan Munde Gazette
A prolific writer and photographer, the late Marty Godbey published extensively on history, architecture, food, travel, and bluegrass music. She lived in Lexington, Kentucky, where she watched J. D. Crowe play locally for more than 40 years.
The book is also available electronically through distributors of ebooks and aggregated digital content to libraries and individuals. These include: