Cover for Bartenstein: Industrial Strength Bluegrass: Southwestern Ohio's Musical Legacy. Click for larger image

Industrial Strength Bluegrass

Southwestern Ohio's Musical Legacy

High lonesome in the heartland

In the twentieth century, Appalachian migrants seeking economic opportunities relocated to southwestern Ohio, bringing their music with them. Between 1947 and 1989, they created an internationally renowned capital for the thriving bluegrass music genre, centered on the industrial region of Cincinnati, Dayton, Hamilton, Middletown, and Springfield. Fred Bartenstein and Curtis W. Ellison edit a collection of eyewitness narratives and in-depth analyses that explore southwestern Ohio’s bluegrass musicians, radio broadcasters, recording studios, record labels, and performance venues, along with the music’s contributions to religious activities, community development, and public education. As the bluegrass scene grew, southwestern Ohio's distinctive sounds reached new fans and influenced those everywhere who continue to play, produce, and love roots music.

Revelatory and multifaceted, Industrial Strength Bluegrass shares the inspiring story of a bluegrass hotbed and the people who created it.

Contributors: Fred Bartenstein, Curtis W. Ellison, Jon Hartley Fox, Rick Good, Lily Isaacs, Ben Krakauer, Mac McDivitt, Nathan McGee, Daniel Mullins, Joe Mullins, Larry Nager, Phillip J. Obermiller, Bobby Osborne, and Neil V. Rosenberg.

Publication supported by a grant from the Judith McCulloh Endowment for American Music.


Fred Bartenstein is an adjunct instructor in music at the University of Dayton. He is the editor of Bluegrass Bluesman, The Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and two anthologies of writings by folk arts impresario Joe Wilson. Curtis W. Ellison is a professor emeritus of history and American studies at Miami University. He is the author of Country Music Culture: From Hard Times to Heaven and editor of Donald Davidson’s The Big Ballad Jamboree.

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