Still stuck for a bluegrass Christmas gift idea for someone who buys all the music they want for themselves? Here’s something that slipped past us as it was released earlier this year when it was sent to an old address, and might be perfect for that bluegrass lover on your list.
Bluegrass/folk/hillbilly balladeer Jim Rooney has spent a full life in the music business. He worked radio in the 1950s as a hillbilly entertainer, and then found himself in the thick of the folk boom in the ’60s in his native Boston. As the Newport Folk Festival was becoming one of the most important events in traditional music, Jim worked there as a talent coordinator.
In the ’70s, Rooney moved to Nashville and made a career as a producer and engineer, especially with folk and bluegrass-oriented artists and singer/songwriters. His credits since then include a who’s who of acoustic music, including Alison Krauss, Tom Paxton, Jim & Jesse, Mark O’Connor, Jerry Jeff Walker, Peter Rowan, John Prine, Steve Gillette and Iris DeMent.
Since his college days, Jim has also performed and recorded sporadically with banjoist Bill Keith, a pairing which has resulted in a number of seminal albums.
Rooney’s autobiography, In It For The Long Run, finds him recalling all that and more in a musical life well-lived. His time in Ireland is covered, along with helping bring Texas singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith to prominence in Nashville, spending time around Bob Dylan in the ’60s, working in the publishing business, and his previous books, Bossmen: Bill Monroe & Muddy Waters and Baby, Let Me Follow You Down, written with Eric von Schmidt.
Long recognized as a storyteller with few peers, this book should be a joy for anyone who has followed acoustic music in the United States this past 50-60 years.
In It For The Long Run is published by the University of Illinois Press, and is available wherever books are sold.