This spring, the Journal of American Folklore publishes its monumental 500th issue. As the official journal of the American Folklore Society, JAF has been published continually since the Society’s founding in 1888. That’s a very impressive 125 years! In their introduction to the 500th issue (available from JSTOR), editors Thomas A. DuBois and James P. Leary write:
Any field, any journal, ought to pause to savor such a moment: reaching 500 is no small feat, and represents in fact the combined effort of a vast number of folklorists, past and present, male and female. And folklorists do like to pause, call it an occupational hazard: the product of training that reminds us to view the present always with a cognizance of the past, and often with a level of discomfort at the changes we see around us. So readers of JAF might well expect that issue 500 would take note of its number, and they will not be disappointed on that score.
Murphy Hicks Henry is a professional banjo player and writer who founded the Women in Bluegrass newsletter and has written regularly for Bluegrass Unlimited and Banjo Newsletter. She answered our questions about her book Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass.
Q: You’re a professional banjo player. Growing up, did you encounter those who dismissed your playing because “you’re a girl.”
Henry: Oh, yes! I don’t think many women in bluegrass have escaped hearing the phrase, “you’re pretty good for a girl.” I know for me, since I was a girl, I felt like I had to play louder, harder, and better than any of the guys around me to be accepted—and respected. That was very important to me. In no way did I want to be considered a “wimpy” (read: girly) banjo player. This made me obsessive about studying the recordings of Earl Scruggs, to make sure I played it “just like Earl,” so no one could fault me. Part of this came from my own competitive nature to be “the best” but part of it also came from the cultural idea that doing anything “like a girl” was not good enough. Continue reading →
Diane Diekman’s book, Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins, will receive the Belmont Country Music Book of the Year Award given by the Mike Curb Entertainment and Music Business Program at Belmont University. The award ceremony will take place during the Friday, May 24th International Country Music Conference (ICMC) luncheon.
Drawing from personal interviews and in-depth research, biographer Diekman explains how Robbins saw himself as a drifter, a man always searching for self-fulfillment and inner peace. Twentieth Century Drifter is the first biography of this legendary country music artist and NASCAR driver.
Jockers uses his digital tools to analyze novels by, essentially, crunching them–determining what words appear in each book, tabulating the frequency with which they are used, likewise quantifying the punctuation marks, and working out patterns among the results according to the novel’s subgenre or publication date, or biographical data about the author such as gender, nationality, and regional origin.
The findings that the author reports tend to be of a very precise and delimited sort. . . . There is a “high incidence of locative prepositions” (over, under, within, etc.) in Gothic fiction, which may be “a direct result of the genre’s being ‘place oriented.’” That sounds credible, since Gothic characters tend to find themselves moving around in dark rooms within ruined castles with secret passageways and whatnot.
Troy Rondinone’s new book Friday Night Fightertells the story of Gaspar “Indio” Ortega, who was a hero for many Latin Americans as one of the first Mexicans to appear on national television. Ortega was a standout in the ring during the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports Friday Night Fights.
In this 1958 clip, not only can you enjoy the snappy “Look Sharp!” Gillette theme, but also get a glimpse of Gaspar Ortega and “Classy” Mickey Crawford. Both boxers get an introduction (in suit and tie) before the Friday night bout.
Q:As a native of the Philippines who emigrated to the United States in 1968, how did you first view the Marcos regime?
Fuentecilla: When I completed my graduate communication studies at University of Illinois, I had plans to return home to apply what I learned. One of Marcos’ first decrees after imposing his dictatorship was to muzzle the press and imprison journalists. So, heck! Why enter the lion’s den?
Q:Were you surprised by the increasing measures the Marcos regime took leading to the 1972 declaration of martial law?
Fuentecilla: No. It was inevitable that he had to do what he did in order to consolidate his power — restrict the press, round up oppositionists and throw them into prison, dissolve Congress, employ the military establishment as his personal police, weaken the judiciary, etc.
Q:How did you become personally involved in the anti-Marcos movement?
Fuentecilla: At the founding convention of our group in Washington DC in 1973, whose history is the subject of my book, I was elected the first Secretary General. Hence I was an on-the-ground participant of the Movement from its birth. Continue reading →
As Craig Havighurst writes in the introduction of his book Air Castle of the South, Jones was one of the members of Nashville royalty to step up in support of WSM – the radio station that first put the Grand Ole Opry on the air. When executives were planning to flip the format of the country powerhouse to talk and sports in 2002, a protest began on a cold January day.
“More than one hundred citizens waved signs, clapped their mittens, and urged passing motorists to honk in support of traditional country music. ‘Keep country alive!’ they chanted. ‘Keep country alive!’ Singing legend George Jones drove up to voice support from behind the wheel of his SUV.”
Not only was Jones one of the biggest stars to appear on record and in person (performing at the Opry), he grew up listening to his musical heroes such as Roy Acuff on the station.
The protest sparked author Havighurst to write his history of radio station: Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City.
In May 2013 we will publish Murphy Henry’s new book Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass, which documents the musical lives of more than seventy women including Sally Ann Forrester, Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent, the Dixie Chicks, Bessie Lee Mauldin, Wilma Lee Cooper, Roni and Donna Stoneman, and many more.
Click above to watch Murphy speak about the writing of Pretty Good for a Girl.
This week musician and activist Fred Ho will be celebrated at events featuring both signings of the new University of Illinois Press book Yellow Power Yellow Souland also some screenings of the new documentary Diary of the Dragon: The (R)Evolution of Fred Ho.