BARN DANCES & JAMBOREES ACROSS KENTUCKY—BY J.D. WILKES WITH A FOREWORD BY JOHN COHEN—History Press 9781626192683. Also available in eBook, 159 pp., $19.99. (History Press, 645 Meeting St., Ste. 200, Charleston, SC 29403, www.historypress.net.)
What a fun and satisfying book! It makes me wish I was moving to Kentucky, getting ready to roam around the state, as author J.D. Wilkes did, to visit all the barn dances, jamborees, and Oprys that this book covers. At first glance, the cover might fool you into thinking this is one of those confettis found at the counter of a Cracker Barrel (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but this detailed work of love is so much more.
The author is a traditional musician who knows his old-time and bluegrass history, but more importantly, he’s someone who clearly enjoys meeting and talking with the people who bring these places to life. The book is divided into regions of Kentucky and includes interviews, descriptions of the venues, photographs, and a valuable bibliography and listing of events. Even Kentuckians will learn a lot about their state and the music in it, and readers of this magazine will be especially interested in the information on Rosine. Highly recommended and well written enough to enjoy even if you don’t plan to visit these venues.CVS