The latest addition in a rich vein of new books about southern vernacular music is Gone to the Country – The New Lost City Ramblers and the Folk Music Revival, just published by the University of Illinois Press.
Gone to the Country chronicles the life and music of the New Lost City Ramblers, formed in 1958 by Mike Seeger, John Cohen and Tom Paley, the trio of northern, city-bred musicians who helped pioneer the resurgence of southern roots music during the folk revival of the late 1950s and 1960s. In so doing the band introduced the regional styles of southern ballads, blues, string bands and bluegrass to northerners who yearned for a sound and an experience not found in mainstream music.
Author Ray Allen, a professor of music and American studies at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, explores the cultural impact of the northern band’s southern music, weaving together biography, history and music criticism to follow the band from its New York roots to its involvement with the commercial folk music boom.
Gone to the Country draws on extensive interviews and personal correspondence with band members and digs deep into the Ramblers’ rich trove of recordings.
This is the first scholarly work to focus on the cultural impact of a single performing group as it highlights the role of tradition in the social upheaval of mid-century America.
The 328 page book with its 24 black & white photographs is available in hardback format (978-0-252-03560-9) and paperback (978-0-252-07747-0).