This first-ever Stanley Brothers biography Lonesome Melodies: The Lives And Music Of The Stanley Brothers [released February 1, 2013] documents the careers and personal lives of two true bluegrass legends, Carter and Ralph Stanley.
Author David W. Johnson has written a compelling story while remaining historically accurate, respectful and honest. It is a sensitive portrayal of two rather diverse personalities as they struggled to make a living together with their mountain music -- a music that told stories of their family, neighbors, and all descendants who came before them. Those of us who take this 304 page journey (including anyone who may have had a personal relationship with Carter and Ralph Stanley) perhaps will have a better understanding of these men and their music.
Brothers Carter and Ralph managed to take their music to the major cities of the
|George Shuffler, Carter & Ralph Stanley 1964|
The author also inserts a fair bit of regional history to help us better understand the strength in character of Carter and Ralph Stanley. A character that perhaps prepared them for the path they would take in their musical quest.
Additional subjects covered include song collecting in the mountain country, the earliest music festivals, the prominent folk and bluegrass artists of the period and more. We are also treated to an insider’s view of the country music business during the late 1940s through 1960s.
There is detailed background of well known mountain ballads. We are treated to several ‘behind the scene’ looks at day-to-day life on road for a first generation bluegrass musician. We learn about the politics of competing with the relatively few bands in those formative years of bluegrass music. We learn of the importance of radio appearances, the politics of radio and recording companies, the impossible task of finding sponsors, the complications involved in being cast members of major venues such as the Louisiana Hayride.
|The Ash Grove in Hollywood, California 1962|
About the author: David W. Johnson is an independent scholar who has performed and written about traditional music for 50 years. His article on The Carter Family was awarded Da Capo ‘Best Music Writing
University Press of