The Big Ballad Jamboree

Overview

Uproariously funny and filled with choice narration, The Big Ballad Jamboree is Donald Davidson's only novel.

He set his story- the romance of hillbilly and country singer Danny MacGregor with folk singer and ballad scholar Cissy Timberlake- in the fictional western North Carolina town of Carolina City during the summer of 1949. The late forties, just after WWII and before the rise of national television, are great years for classic country music on live radio. Yet this ...

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Overview

Uproariously funny and filled with choice narration, The Big Ballad Jamboree is Donald Davidson's only novel.

He set his story- the romance of hillbilly and country singer Danny MacGregor with folk singer and ballad scholar Cissy Timberlake- in the fictional western North Carolina town of Carolina City during the summer of 1949. The late forties, just after WWII and before the rise of national television, are great years for classic country music on live radio. Yet this Appalachian community is struggling to embrace a modern commercial economy without losing its folk heritage.

In this setting Davidson draws lively satirical pictures: civic boosters allied with shameless politicians; a local sheriff, a barber, and a dean cooperating to protect the image of a college; a folklore professor seeking fame by promoting a ballad-singing bootlegger. Seen through the eyes of a country boy with a musical gift descended from mountain people, this novel is a highbrow art about memorable lowbrow characters. It is also a great read.

Those who know Davidson as a poet and scholar may be surprised to learn that he wrote a novel about country music. Here his long romance with southern folk life and mountain balladry captures the evolution of hillbilly singers into Grand Ole Opery stars as he pursues vexing questions about folk authenticity in country music.

Long thought lost, The Big Ballad Jamboree now is published for the first time. The famous teacher of young writers as Robert Penn Warren, Jesse Stuart, and Elizabeth Spencer never saw publication of his own novel. The mystery of its fate resolved at long last with the publication of the complete manuscript, discovered by a granddaughter in family files.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
New Deal politics and social upheaval subsequent to World War II push civilization on the Appalachians of 1949 North Carolina, forcing the region's folk music to evolve from its roots in English balladry into slick, radio-driven hillbilly music. Raised with the folk tradition, Cissie Timberlake and Danny MacGregor, off-and-on sweethearts and one-time members in the same hillbilly band, struggle to bring some order to this musical evolution. Choosing academia as her arena, Cissie teaches at a local university and codifies regional folk songs for her master's degree, while Danny maintains a connection with traditional music by composing new ballads. Using humor and an intimate knowledge of the country music scene of the mid-1900s, Davidson 1893-1968, an Agrarian essayist and poet mentor to Robert Penn Warren, explored the negative effects of modernity on the South in this, his only novel, which was discovered by his granddaughter in the family files. -- Robert Jordan, University of Iowa, Iowa City
Library Journal
New Deal politics and social upheaval subsequent to World War II push civilization on the Appalachians of 1949 North Carolina, forcing the region's folk music to evolve from its roots in English balladry into slick, radio-driven hillbilly music. Raised with the folk tradition, Cissie Timberlake and Danny MacGregor, off-and-on sweethearts and one-time members in the same hillbilly band, struggle to bring some order to this musical evolution. Choosing academia as her arena, Cissie teaches at a local university and codifies regional folk songs for her master's degree, while Danny maintains a connection with traditional music by composing new ballads. Using humor and an intimate knowledge of the country music scene of the mid-1900s, Davidson (1893-1968), an Agrarian essayist and poet mentor to Robert Penn Warren, explored the negative effects of modernity on the South in this, his only novel, which was discovered by his granddaughter in the family files. -- Robert Jordan, University of Iowa, Iowa City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781604730241
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 9/1/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.68 (d)

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