This remarkable memoir of immigration and assimilation provides a rare view of urban life in Chicago in the late 1800s by a newcomer to the city and the Midwest, and the nation as well. Francis O’Neill left Ireland in 1865. After five years traveling the world as a sailor, he and his family settled in Chicago just shortly before the Great Fire of 1871.
As O’Neill looked back on his life, writing in Chicago at the age of 83, he could give first-hand accounts of Pullman strike of 1894, the railway strike of 1903, and the packinghouse strike of 1904. He could also reflect on the corruption that kept him, in spite of his innovations, extremely high exam scores, and performance, subject to powerful aldermen who prevented his advance as a member of the Chicago Police Department. Despite these obstacles, O’Neill eventually rose to be chief of police--a position from which he could enact much-needed civil service reform. In addition to his professional success, O’Neill is also remembered and beloved for his hobby, preserving traditional Irish music.
O’Neill’s story offers perspective on the inner workings of the police department at the turn of the twentieth century. His memoir also brings to life the challenges involved in succeeding in a new land, providing for his family, and integrating into a new culture. Francis O’Neill serves as a fine documentarian of the Irish immigrant experience in Chicago.
Gone to the Country chronicles the life and music of the New Lost City Ramblers, a trio of city-bred musicians who helped pioneer the resurgence of southern roots music during the folk revival of the late 1950s and 1960s. Formed in 1958 by Mike Seeger, John Cohen, and Tom Paley, the Ramblers introduced the regional styles of southern ballads, blues, string bands, and bluegrass to northerners yearning for a sound and an experience not found in mainstream music.
Ray Allen interweaves biography, history, and music criticism to follow the band from its New York roots to their involvement with the commercial folk music boom. Allen details their struggle to establish themselves amid critical debates about traditionalism brought on by their brand of folk revivalism. He explores how the Ramblers ascribed notions of cultural authenticity to certain musical practices and performers and how the trio served as a link between southern folk music and northern urban audiences who had little previous exposure to rural roots styles. Highlighting the role of tradition in the social upheaval of mid-century America, Gone to the Country draws on extensive interviews and personal correspondence with band members and digs deep into the Ramblers' rich trove of recordings.
From fiddle tunes to folk ballads, from banjos to blues, traditional music thrives in the remote mountains and hollers of West Virginia. For a quarter century, Goldenseal magazine has given its readers intimate access to the lives and music of folk artists from across this pivotal state. Now the best of Goldenseal is gathered for the first time in this richly illustrated volume. Some of the country's finest folklorists take us through the backwoods and into the homes of such artists as fiddlers Clark Kessinger and U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, recording stars Lynn Davis and Molly O'Day, dulcimer master Russell Fluharty, National Heritage Fellowship recipient Melvin Wine, bluesman Nat Reese, and banjoist Sylvia O'Brien.
The most complete survey to date of the vibrant strands of this music and its colorful practitioners, Mountains of Music delineates a unique culture where music and music making are part of an ancient and treasured heritage. The sly humor, strong faith, clear regional identity, and musical convictions of these performers draw the reader into families and communities bound by music from one generation to another. For devotees as well as newcomers to this infectiously joyous and heartfelt music, Mountains of Music captures the strength of tradition and the spontaneous power of living artistry.
Greil Marcus delves into three distinct episodes in the history of American commonplace song and shows how each one manages to convey the uncanny sense that it was written by no one. In these seemingly anonymous productions, we discover three different ways of talking about the United States, and three separate nations within its borders.