Page 158 Books is thrilled to welcome author David Menconi in conversation with Michael Elliott to celebrate the release of David's book Oh, Didn't They Ramble--out Oct. 17th. David and Michael will be joined by special guest Joe Newberry.
What is American roots music? Any definition must account for a kaleidoscope of genres from bluegrass to blues, western swing to jazz, soul and gospel to rock and reggae, Cajun to Celtic. It must encompass the work of artists as diverse as Alice Gerard and Alison Krauss, George Thorogood and Sun Ra, Bela Fleck and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, the Blake Babies and Billy Strings. What do all these artists and music styles have in common? The answer is a record label born in the wake of the American folk revival and 1960s movement politics, formed around the eclectic tastes and audacious ideals of three recent college grads who lived, listened, and worked together. The answer is Rounder Records.
For more than fifty years, Rounder has been the world's leading label for folk music of all kinds. David Menconi's book is the label's definitive history, drawing on previously untapped archives and extensive interviews with artists, Rounder staff, and founders Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton Levy, and Bill Nowlin. Rounder's founders blended ingenuity and independence with serendipity and an unfailing belief in the small-d democratic power of music to connect and inspire people, forging creative partnerships that resulted in one of the most eclectic and creative catalogs in the history of recorded music. Placing Rounder in the company of similarly influential labels like Stax, Motown, and Blue Note, this story is destined to delight anyone who cares about the place of music in American culture.
The 2019 North Carolina Piedmont Laureate, David Menconi was a staff writer at the Raleigh News & Observer for 28 years. He has also written for Rolling Stone, Billboard, Spin and the New York Times. He is also the author of Step It Up and Go: The Story of North Carolina Popular Music.
Michael Elliott is a contributor to the pioneering roots music authority No Depression. His writing has also appeared in PopMatters, Albmism, Americana UK, and The Bitter Southerner. Elliott spent close to thirty years in radio broadcasting and management in a variety of formats. He has interviewed and produced profiles on musicians as diverse as Isaac Hayes, Charlie Daniels, Delbert McClinton, Johnny Rivers, and Little Richard. He lives in Raleigh, NC. Elvis Costello has been a songwriter for fifty years, collaborating with Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach, Allen Toussaint, and The Roots. He is a two-time Grammy-winning recording artist and a member of both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Known around the world for his clawhammer banjo playing, Joe Newberry is also a powerful guitarist, singer and songwriter. The Gibson Brothers’ version of his song “Singing As We Rise,” featuring guest vocalist Ricky Skaggs, won the 2012 IBMA “Gospel Recorded Performance” Award. With Eric Gibson, he shared the 2013 IBMA “Song of the Year” Award for “They Called It Music.”