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Fred Bartenstein on Josh Graves at ICMC 2016

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Josh GravesThe misty chilly Middle Tennessee weather scene today makes one think of accounts of the Scottish Moors. Despite not being able to offer each of you some Lagavulan, this update should warm your heart. Gradually more of the International Country Music Conference (ICMC) 2016 program is taking shape. ICMC has always been hospitable to Bluegrass and 2016 is no exception. Once again Fred Bartenstein of Yellow Springs, Ohio will be sharing his expertise with us. Bartenstein will be discussing “How Josh Graves Made Flatt and Scruggs Hip.”

Bartenstein indicates that in “1955 white men playing black men’s music was the most significant trend in American popular music. In hiring Josh Graves in that particular year, Flatt and Scruggs were getting a sideman totally conversant with the blues. With the addition of his Dobro styles, the Foggy Mountain Boys could — and did — rock!” Bartenstein will be providing unusual insights well worth our time plus it will relate to the content of the Keynote Event dealing with Country and Blues interaction.

The life and music of a bluegrass pioneer, in his own words... A pivotal member of the hugely successful bluegrass band Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, Dobro pioneer Josh Graves (1927–2006) was a living link between bluegrass music and the blues, maintaining ties with black artists and comporting himself as a classic bluesman with a gold tooth and snappy headgear. In Bluegrass Bluesman, this influential performer shares the story of his lifelong career in music. The 176 page Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir by Josh Graves was released, last September from the University of Illinois Press. Bluegrass Unlimited says, "Yet another must-read book from the University of Illinois Press." The volume has been awarded a Certificate of Merit in the Best Research in Recorded Country Music Category. The book was up for Best Historical Research in Recorded Folk, Ethnic, or Country Music by the association . Last year, Crowe on the Banjo: The Music Life of J. D. Crowe by Marty Godbey won in the History category.

The Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and study of sound recordings, in all genres of music and speech, in all formats, and from all periods. ARSC is unique in bringing together private individuals and institutional professionals—everyone with a serious interest in recorded sound.

Bluegrass Bluesman - A Memoir by Josh GravesFred Bartenstein, who edited the volume, is excited that the book he edited is coming out in September from University of Illinois Press. Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir by Josh Graves tells the fascinating story of his life -- from mountainous East Tennessee, to the road with Flatt & Scruggs, to a solo and sideman career, to reflections on the present and future of bluegrass music. Josh is a great storyteller. There are never-published photos, tributes from more than 20 contemporaries and disciples, and information on Josh's instruments and repertoire.

In lively anecdotes, Graves describes his upbringing in East Tennessee and the climate in which bluegrass music emerged during the 1940s. Deeply influenced by the blues, he adapted Earl Scruggs's revolutionary banjo style to the Dobro resonator slide guitar and gave the Foggy Mountain Boys their distinctive sound.

The International Country Music Conference provides scholars an opportunity to share their work in all aspects of country music. ICMC broadly defines country music to include variants which share common historical and cultural roots ranging from Americana, alt.country, Bluegrass, Cajun, Country Rock, Crossover, and Honky Tonk to the Nashville Sound, New Traditionalist, Old Time Country, and Western Swing. ICMC is truly international with scholars from Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom participating. ICMC 2016

The 32nd annual International Country Music Conference will be held beginning Thursday 26 May through Saturday 28 May 2016 in the in the Frist Lecture Hall of the Gordon E. Inman Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee at the south end of Music Row. Wednesday 25 May from 5:00-8:00pm will be the pre-conference social in the Parthenon Room of the Holiday Inn, Vanderbilt. Come join in for a tasting of Calfkiller Brewing Company (Sparta, TN home and final resting place of Lester Flatt), multiple book launch, picking, and socializing. ICMC pickers will be featured from 9:00-10:00pm in the Commodore Lounge as part of Singer-Songwriter night.

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