Bluegrass in Baltimore

The Hard Drivin’ Sound and Its Legacy


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About the Book

With an influx of Appalachian migrants who came looking for work in the 1940s and 1950s, Baltimore found itself populated by some extraordinary mountain musicians and was for a brief time the center of the bluegrass world. Life in Baltimore for these musicians was not easy. There were missed opportunities, personal demons and always the up-hill battle with prejudice against their hillbilly origins. Based upon interviews with legendary players from the golden age of Baltimore bluegrass, this book provides the first in-depth coverage of this transplanted-roots music and its broader influence, detailing the struggles Appalachian musicians faced in a big city that viewed the music they made as the “poorest example of poor man’s music.”

About the Author(s)

Tim Newby is a writer and educator. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including Bluegrass Unlimited, Paste, Relix, AmericanaUK, Inside Lacrosse, and Honest Tune. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Tim Newby
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: 55 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9439-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1952-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vii
Preface  1
Introduction: “It was like meeting God”  5
1. “Hillbilly haven”  15
2. “Laughing with our banjos”  34
3. “A high octane explosion”  55
4. “Like … standing in a sea breeze”  73
5. Not Even Gunfights Could Stop the Music  92
6. “Getting out there and playing for nothing”  110
7. “High on a Mountain”  132
8. “Imprinted on my musical DNA”  152
9. “The one thing they all had was talent”  174
10. “Bluegrass with funky Americana undertones”  195
Chapter Notes  213
Bibliography  223
Index  227

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Certificate of Merit in Country Music, ARSC Award for Excellence
  • “Newby had done an enormous amount of research…. In presenting the history he has also done a skillful job of relying on both a thematic and roughly chronological approach, thus creating an enjoyably readable narrative…an important book…. The level of detail that Tim Newby has reconstructed is very impressive”—ARSC Journal
  • “Newby’s book delivers solid contributions to the historiography of blue grass music, offering a fresh investigation of urban bluegrass in a working-class city”—The Journal of Southern History
  • “the first book to take an in-depth look into how the music that was played in Baltimore came to wield influence across a broad musical landscape”—Cybergrass Bluegrass Music News
  • “Newby’s work is momentous as it is the first compendium to examine this deeply rooted tradition”—Baltimore Magazine