PLAY LIKE A LEGEND: BILL MONROE TUNES & SONGS FOR MANDOLIN—BY JOE CARR

PLAY LIKE A LEGEND: BILL MONROE TUNES & SONGS FOR MANDOLIN—BY JOE CARR.—Mel Bay 978-078668358-1. CD included, 80 pp., $29.99. (Mel Bay Publications, 4 Industrial Dr., Pacific, MO 63069, www.melbay.com.)

This is the mandolin book I’ve been waiting for. I’m a very mediocre mandolin player, but I’ve told myself for years that I should learn a few Monroe-style songs and licks so that I’d feel more comfortable jamming on some of the standards. Of course, I’ve procrastinated. Now I have no excuse.

Joe Carr, the widely respected mandolinist with Country Gazette and music director of Camp Bluegrass at South Plains College in Levelland, Tex., has put together an excellent instructional book for intermediate to advanced players who are looking to boost their Monroe chops. It includes a CD with all the tablature examples. This is important because so much of the Monroe style has to be heard rather than just read in tab.

I counted 33 songs taught in this book, which includes “Panhandle Country,” “Gold Rush,” “Methodist Preacher,” “The First Whippoorwill,” “On And On,” and I could go on and on. But what makes this book a great buy is Joe’s commentary, which is clear, to the point, and informative. He gives you the original source of the songs so you can go to the first Monroe recording. I especially liked Joe’s take on Monroe’s idea of the blues. The book includes many photographs of Monroe playing with various incarnations of the Blue Grass Boys.

I’ve been working with this book for about a week and I’ve just started to scratch the surface. Great for people who can play a little mandolin, but who would like to further their understanding of the Monroe style. Highly recommended.CVS

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