BLUEGRASS BLUESMAN by Josh Graves BOOK: BGBLUESMAN
"Josh Graves --A Memoir" by Fred Bartenstein, (Univ. of Illinois Press) , 142 pp, softbound ). Editor Fred Bartenstein has done a beautiful job in covering the career of one of the great figures in Bluegrass, Buck Graves (or Uncle Josh as he was known to many ). Josh did as much as anyone for the Dobro, and the greats of that instrument like Mike Auldridge and Jerry Douglas will be the first to point that out. Graves was known for his work with Flatt & Scruggs, with whom he played for over a decade, but he also picked for Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Mac Wiseman, Esco Hankins, and Charlie Bailey, among others, and spent several years late in his career in partnership with the great fiddler Kenny Baker. Bartenstein worked from earlier interviews of Josh, and the book reads more like an auto-biography than a biography. Graves talks freely about his life on the road and provides many recollections of the various artists that he worked with over the years. An especially nice feature is a chapter of more than 20 pages of tributes to Josh by various folks in the music business, including most of the dobro players who were influenced by him or inspired to take up the dobro after seeing Uncle Josh in action. These include Earl Scruggs, Mac Wiseman, Tut Taylor, Leroy Mack, Russ Hooper, Sally Van Meter, Rob Ickes, Fred Travers, Marty Stuart, and of course Mike Auldridge and Jerry Douglas. There is also a nice photo section in the book. This is a fine book, especially if you are a dobro player or a fan of Graves, Flatt & Scruggs and the early days of Bluegrass --an excellent work that flows smoothly, and a hard book to put down.