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Yankee Twang

Country and Western Music in New England

Clifford R. Murphy

Publication Year: 2014

Merging scholarly insight with a professional guitarist's keen sense of the musical life, Yankee Twang delves into the rich tradition of country & western music that is played and loved in the mill towns and cities of the American northeast. Clifford R. Murphy draws on a wealth of ethnographic material, interviews, and encounters with recorded and live music to reveal the central role of country and western in the social lives and musical activity of working-class New Englanders. As Murphy shows, an extraordinary multiculturalism informed by New England's kaleidoscope of ethnic groups created a distinctive country and western music style. But the music also gave--and gives--voice to working-class feeling. Yankee country and western emphasizes the western , reflecting the longing for the mythical cowboy's life of rugged but fulfilling individualism. Indeed, many New Englanders use country and western to comment on economic disenfranchisement and express their resentment of a mass media, government, and Nashville music establishment they believe neither reflects nor understands their life experiences.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Music in American Life


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pp. iii-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

...bi-musical participant-observer, I carried out ethnographic fieldwork with country and western musicians and fans in the states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, as well as in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick...

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Prologue. Fieldnotes on the Dick Philbrook and The Frye Mountain Band Show

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pp. xiii-xviii

...farms. I arrived in town around 5:30, which was the time I had arranged to meet Yodeling Wade Dow for an interview and to make a recording of his virtuosic cowboy yodeling. I went inside the Thompson Community Center—a wonderfully dusty old...

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Introduction. Reintroducing New England to the Country Music World

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pp. 1-10

...airwaves and truncated the music’s commercial moniker to “country music” (without the “western”). In this new Nashville-based and corporate-controlled order, country music became virtually anything sung with a southern accent. And as country and western music makers outside the South had ever-decreasing access...

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1 New England Country and Western Music and the Myth of Southern Authenticity

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pp. 11-36

...Englanders reading this work, odds are good that you, like me, grew up entirely unaware of your home region’s country music heritage. In looking back on my own life, I feel as though I should have known better: I grew up in a house in New Hampshire...

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2 A History of New England Country and Western Music, 1925–1975

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pp. 37-104

...Northeast to the Midwest conspired to transform New England from a mostly rural, agricultural region to a mostly urban region. Outmigration from New England to the West and upper Midwest and the departure of young women from...

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3 Finding Community in the New England Country and Western Event

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pp. 105-123

...were still playing every Saturday night—under the name the Hayloft Jamboree—at the Legion Post 15 in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. I tracked down singer/guitarist Richie Zack’s phone number and called him up. (Richie was Eddie’s brother...

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4 Home on the Grange: The Frontier between "American" and "Immigrant" Worldviews in New England Country and Western

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pp. 124-144

...hitched up outside. Though it is Waterville, Maine, in 1942, the hall is filled with men and women in frontier dress—men in cowboy clothes and hats, boys in overalls and kerchiefs, girls and women in homemade calico dresses—and the floor is strewn...

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5 "It Beats Digging Clams": The Working Life of Country and Western Musicians in the Barnstorming Era

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pp. 145-166

...approach country music work in much the same way an aspiring professional athlete approaches his or her sport: an agent will develop and promote unknown and inexperienced talent for the purpose of securing a record contract for them, or musicians will spend years of preparation toiling in obscurity while incurring a financial...

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6 The New England Cowboy: Regional Resistance to National Culture

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pp. 167-182

...There was Duke Levine, a native of Worcester, Massachusetts, and former lead guitarist for 1990s pop-country sensation Mary Chapin Carpenter, on electric guitar. Tim Bowles and Michael “Mudcat” Ward, stalwarts of New England country-rock bands of the 1980s, were on pedal steel and bass. On the drums was Billy...

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Epilogue. "Oh, You're Canadian": My Night as a Canadian American in Watertown, Massachusetts

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pp. 183-186

...in the local community. The group had recently moved from the Waltham Club to the Canadian-American Club in neighboring Watertown, Massachusetts, and they had just released their first CD after nearly forty years of performing. I saw...


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pp. 187-198


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pp. 199-214

E-ISBN-13: 9780252096617
E-ISBN-10: 0252096614
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252038679

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Music in American Life