Mandolin Man

The Bluegrass Life of Roland White
Author: Bob Black
From bowling alleys to the Ryman with the iconic instrumentalist
Cloth – $110
Paper – $19.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 06/28/2022
Cloth: 06/28/2022
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About the Book

Roland White’s long career has taken him from membership in Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and Lester Flatt’s Nashville Grass to success with his own Roland White Band. A master of the mandolin and acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, White has mentored a host of bluegrass musicians and inspired countless others.

Bob Black draws on extensive interviews with White and his peers and friends to provide the first in-depth biography of the pioneering bluegrass figure. Born into a musical family, White found early success with the Kentucky Colonels during the 1960s folk revival. The many stops and collaborations that marked White's subsequent musical journey trace the history of modern bluegrass. But Black also delves into the seldom-told tale of White's life as a working musician, one who endured professional and music industry ups-and-downs to become a legendary artist and beloved teacher.

An entertaining merger of memories and music history, Mandolin Man tells the overdue story of a bluegrass icon and his times.

* Publication of this book was supported in part by a grant from the Judith McCulloh Endowment for American Music.

About the Author

Bob Black played banjo in Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys and recorded with Monroe on the Weary Traveler album. Black later played with Buck White and the Down Home Folks and has performed with Ricky Skaggs, Ralph Stanley, Rhonda Vincent, Marty Stuart, and many others. He is the author of Come Hither to Go Yonder: Playing Bluegrass with Bill Monroe.

Also by this author

Come Hither to Go Yonder cover


"Black’s own relevant musical experience, alongside his interviews with White, his family, and country music icons such as Marty Stuart, make this biography a must-read for bluegrass aficionados. Although White may not be a household name to those outside the bluegrass scene, he richly deserves this long-awaited tribute." --Library Journal

"Superb. . . . Bob Black has delivered another instant classic biography of one of bluegrass music’s most valuable, but perhaps under-appreciated, influencers and torch-bearers. If you read but one bluegrass history or biography this year, make it Mandolin Man: The Bluegrass Life of Roland White." --Bluegrass Unlimited

"This book has many memorable stories and insights into the life of one of the most modest virtuosos you could ever meet. Kudos to Bob Black for shining a light on a great musician and even better person, and thanks to Roland White for all the great music. " --Nashville Musician

"A warm and appreciative book that keeps White's presence alive." --No Depression

"In Mandolin Man: The Bluegrass Life of Roland White author and banjo player Bob Black gives us a book about a musician in which the music rings out--and is never drowned out." --Chapter 16

"Bluegrass is a musical genre, yes, but it is also a community, the beauty of which resides in the very details that Mr. Black, like any good storyteller, generously shares. Roland White picked his way through life with a singularity of purpose, not to mention a sense of timing and work ethic to match, that made him a colorful piece of the bluegrass community quilt. He was an accomplished, innovative musician, steady hand, and respected mentor." --NewCityLit

"Mandolin Man: The Bluegrass Life of Roland White tells of Roland White's musical life, from his youth as a member of a musical family through his days as a bluegrass band performer. The book successfully weaves together family, friendship, the bluegrass business and culture. The depiction of the life of Roland White and the descriptions of bluegrass players' constructed world combine to make Mandolin Man an important contribution to writing about bluegrass music." --Journal of Folklore Research Reviews


"Roland White is bluegrass music royalty. He is, without question, the most dedicated soul I have ever known when it comes to playing and inspiring people to look into the beauty of the music Bill Monroe called 'the ancient tones.' Roland is especially gifted at encouraging young musicians to look deep into their hearts and play what they hear inside. He is a great professor. I know. He was mine. In reality, I owe my entire career to Roland White."--Marty Stuart, Congress of Country Music

"Bob Black tells how a musician of humble beginnings successfully rose to the top of the bluegrass music business. Roland White's story differs from other bluegrass biographies and autobiographies in its extended discussions of recordings, the deep historical era covered--from the postwar years to the present--and the depiction of a musician's working experiences."--Neil V. Rosenberg, author of Bluegrass Generation: A Memoir


• A No Depression Most Memorable Music Book of 2022