Gary Reid working on Carter Stanley bio

Gary Reid as Carter Stanley - photo by Susan SaandhollandWith a pair of nominations for the 2015 IBMA Print/Media Person of the Year in hand, Gary Reid is moving ahead with yet another book project that is sure to be welcomed by the bluegrass reading public.

His nomination this year is for two important works of scholarship. Both he and co-author Fred Bartenstein are nominated for their work on the International Bluegrass Music Museum’s delightful book, The Bluegrass Hall of Fame, which includes photos and biographies of inductees from 1991 to the present, and Gary for his exhaustive indexing of the many recordings by The Stanley Brothers, The Music of the Stanley Brothers.

Reid tells us that following the publication of the Stanley Brothers book earlier this year, he was contacted by the surviving members of Carter Stanley’s family, asking him to consider putting together an authorized biography of the legendary bluegrass performer with their help. At this point, only the most preliminary work has begun, but given Gary’s diligence and his own voluminous cache of Stanley memorabilia, it is certain to be a highly readable and enlightening tome.

This past few years, most of Gary’s energies have been devoted to the writing and staging of his one-man show, A Life of Sorrow: The Life and Times of Carter Stanley. It had it’s debut in the summer of 2014 with Reid portraying Carter on stage, and has since been presented multiple times in various US cities to rave reviews.

He can now roll all of his lifetime of research on the Stanleys, plus what he can glean from discussions with his sons, into a book that focuses on Carter’s too-short time on earth, totaling just over 40 years.

Interestingly, Reid had spent most of his professional life composing much shorter works on the history of bluegrass music, twice being awarded Best Liner Notes from the IBMA. Perhaps it has taken him this long to complete all of the investigation and analysis from the period in question, one from which very few details have been preserved in contrast to today’s tell-all notions of social and professional media. We now often know more about new artists before their first recordings than we do about a towering figure like Carter Stanley.

At this stage, Gary says that he hasn’t even started a conversation with a publisher, but there is surely one who will be eager to put this one into print.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.