Javonda Charlene Smith, friend and former employee of Bill Monroe, has released her second book of memories and photos based on the great man’s life. Entitled Bill Monroe And Friends, The Sequel, this book offers a look at Big Mon, and many of his musical contemporaries, through a large collection of photographs, many from his own archives.
Smith worked for Monroe on his farm for the final eight years of his life, and the two became friends. While he was still living, Bill had encouraged her to fulfill her dream of writing a book which culminated in the release of Bill Monroe & Friends (inside the life of Bill Monroe) in 2008. During his later years, Javonda lived out at the farm, helping care for Bill’s livestock, and serving as his driver. It was during this time that he shared memories and stories with her, including many of the photos included in these two volumes.
This new edition doesn’t follow any sort of narrative arc, or tell an ongoing story of Monroe’s life. It’s more of a stream of consciousness compilation of snippets from Bill’s life and career, and that of Smith’s. The photos largely take on the role of storyteller, and dozens are included over its 150 pages. Some of the images are of very high quality, while others look as though they may be copies of copies, but many will be unfamiliar to even serious students of Monroe.
The author reached out to friends of Bill’s, and her own acquaintances in the bluegrass world, to acquire these many photos. There are examples of promo pictures that had been autographed by the artists, stage photos from festivals, and all sorts of candids of Monroe and other bluegrass luminaries meeting fans or simply going about their business. Where appropriate, Smith adds her own reflections of the Bill Monroe she knew.
The book is an 8.5” X 11” paperback and sells for $16.95 online.
Most any collector of Bill Monroe memorabilia will want to have a copy.