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True Adventures with the King of Bluegrass
Foreword by Marty Stuart
Author BioTom Piazza's writing on American music has appeared in the Sunday New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, and The Village Voice. He is the author of The Guide to Classic Recorded Jazz (University of Iowa Press), which won the ASCAP-Deems Taylor award for music writing, and Blues and Trouble (St. Martin's Press), which won a James Michener award for fiction. He lives in New Orleans and is working on a novel.
Main DescriptionJimmy Martin was just twenty-two years old when Bill Monroe asked him to join the Blue Grass Boys. That invitation was the start of a career that spanned half a century and culminated with Martin's induction into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Honor. Always an enigmatic figure, Martin was as famous for his temper as he was for his talent.
On assignment from the Oxford American magazine, fiction writer and music critic Tom Piazza drove from his home in New Orleans to Nashville to interview Martin and found himself pitched headlong into a world he couldn't have anticipated. Martin's mercurial personality drew the writer into a series of escalating encounters (with mean dogs, broken-down cars, and near electrocution), culminating in a harrowing and unforgettable expedition, with Martin, to the Grand Ole Opry.
Though, or perhaps because, visits to the Opry like the one Piazza recounts were common for Martin, and though he frequently played on its stage and always hoped to become a member, he died before seeing his dream fulfilled. True Adventures with the King of Bluegrass is the funny, scary, and powerfully poignant portrait of one of the legends of American music.
Co-published with the Country Music Foundation Press
Reviews...one of the most engaging, revealing, funny and sad books ever written about a Nashville musician.
Tom Piazza unlocks the back door of bluegrass in his three-hundred-and-sixty-degree portrait of Jimmy Martin's tragic genius. Step inside--it's a fascinating, scary world, and you'll never be the same again.
Baptized in the same fire that gave us Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, this reigning King of Bluegrass [Jimmy Martin] is no doubt a charter member of the elite fraternity of southern musicians that helped forge what the world now knows as bluegrass, rockabilly, country, and rock 'n' roll music. ... Time spent with the King of Bluegrass is not for the lily-livered or the faint of heart.
--Marty Stuart, from the Foreword