Folk Music in Overdrive: A Primer on Traditional Country and Bluegrass Artists

Bluegrass music historians and students have been aware of Dr Ivan M Tribe since the mid-1970s when he had articles about Clarence “Tater” Tate (in November 1973), The Goins Brothers (May 1974), The Lilly Brothers (July 1974) and Hylo Brown (August 1974) published in Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. All of these bluegrass acts are profiled in the recently published book Folk Music in Overdrive (University of Tennessee Press, March 13, 2018). 

Those stories were followed by two books; Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia (University of Kentucky Press, 1984) and The Stonemans: an Appalachian Family and the Music That Shaped Their Lives (University of Illinois Press, 1993). 

Also, Tribe contributed many of the profiles for bluegrass and traditional country music artists in the massive Definitive Country: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Country Music and its Performers (TarcherPerigee, 1995). 

He has continued to be an active writer into the current decade; with articles in Bluegrass Unlimited about Buddy Griffin (February 2012); and Joe and Stacy Isaacs (May 2013); while a feature about Natchee the Indian was published in Goldenseal in 2014. 

So his knowledge of and appreciation of bluegrass and traditional country music is clearly evident. 

Folk Music in Overdrive is a reader of Tribe’s more significant articles, revised and updated, from their original publication in magazines such as the afore-mentioned Bluegrass Unlimited and Goldenseal: West Virginia Traditional Music; as well as in Precious Memories: Journal of Gospel Music and Old Time Music

Two entries, those for the enigmatic Coon Creek Girls and The Lewis Family were hitherto unpublished.  

Tribe concentrated on the lesser-known or lesser-documented individuals, families and groups; duet acts – husband and wife; and brother acts – and sidemen. There aren’t any profiles for Bill Monroe; the Stanley Brothers; Flatt & Scruggs; Reno and Smiley; the Country Gentlemen; or the Seldom Scene.  

Of the 39 profiles, 32 essays originally appeared in Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. In addition to those acts mentioned there are profiles on Charlie Monroe, Mac Martin, Buddy Starcher, Roy Hall, Carl Story and Mac Odell; country music duos like husband and wife teams Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper; Molly O’Day and Lynn Davis; Doc and Chickie Williams; J.E. and Wade Mainer; or brotherly duos of The Bailes, and the Callahan brothers; famous and lesser known sidemen, such as Claude Boone, mandolin aces Curly Lambert and Red Rector, fiddlers Billy Baker, Joe Meadows, Tater Tate, and Natchee the Indian (Lester Storer), or Dobro player Speedy Krise; and musical groups such as the Masters family; and the Briarhoppers. 

Originally based on interviews with the musicians themselves and their close associates; the revisions include new information from a variety of sources, much of it from a variety of the always well-documented Bear Family boxed sets as well as counsel, advice, and knowledge shared by Tribe’s peers. 

Purchase details:

Folk Music in OverdriveA Primer on Traditional Country and Bluegrass Artists
Publisher: University of Tennessee Press (Charles K. Wolfe Music Series)
Paperback: 277 pages
ISBN-10: 1621903974
ISBN-13: 978-1621903970
Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
Available in Paper: Price $29.95 
Available in PDF: Price $29.95

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.