Here at the University Press of Kentucky, we’re in the middle of a program to digitize all of the books that we’ve published since our founding in 1943. It’s a lot of work going through over 1300 books, but it’s been a process full of fun surprises and astounding discoveries. Best of all, every now and then, there’s a book that we just can’t put down—a book so good we just can’t resist sharing it with you again:
Our Marketing Assistant, Blair, was pulling descriptions for books in our backlist digitization program, when the cover of Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia caught her eye. The picture of Blaine Smith and his gang (ca. 1940) on the cover really captures the spirit of those heady days when the Mountain State rivaled Nashville as a mecca for country singers and instrumentalists from all over America . . . but hey—what’s going on with that guy?
Yeah . . . THAT guy—the one who brought a revolver, a pipe, and a stuffed deer to the photo shoot. We really liked his spirit, and this interesting book has been on my “to-read” shelf ever since.
As Nashville’s dominance has grown, West Virginia’s leadership in country music has lessened; but Ivan Tribe’s book relives and preserves an exciting period in music history. This romp through the golden age of radio in the Mountain State also highlights the stars that made programs like the WWVA Jamboree great: Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Little Jimmy Dickens, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Red Sovine, Blaine Smith, Curly Ray Cline, Grandpa Jones, the Bailey Brothers, and many, many more: