Friday, April 29, 2016

The Making Of “Dwight Diller: West Virginia Mountain Musician” -- Back Story On The Book By Lew Stern


In August 2014, an old friend, Dwight Diller, a West Virginian old time banjo and fiddle player whose fine music is widely know, phoned me, reminded me of a discussion we had ten or more years ago, and told me that now is the time for me to resume work on his biography, a project I proposed during a visit by Dwight to my home in northern Virginia in the early 2000s. 

That book took shape between August 2014 and September 2015, and by December 2015 was scheduled for publication by McFarland Publishers of North Carolina in late 2016. 

How did the project first come about?  Dwight had arrived a few days before a scheduled January 2002 banjo retreat that I had organized for him.  We were sitting in my downstairs office, my two Rhodesian Ridgebacks close to his feet, and Dwight was playing tunes.  He stopped playing, as he often did when he recalled a story about old West Virginia fiddlers or remembered a moment in the life of a fine old West Virginian banjo player.  He told the story, and resumed playing. 

These old practitioners of traditional music that Dwight mentioned were in many instances people he had grown up with, neighbors, friends whose children he knew in school.  I finally said, “Dwight, you’re going to have to face the facts.  At this point, you yourself are now one of The Old People, and you are going to have to tell your story.”

We talked about that possibility, and over the next few years flirted with various ways of accomplishing the goal, but eventually he became immersed in his work that in 2013 resulted in the release of the DVD set, Across the YewPines, about the Hammons family.  I grew busy with my own writing projects, and the pace and scope of my responsibilities at work grew to the point that the idea for the project Dwight and I discussed grew more and more remote.

Until that phone call in August 2014. 

Shaping The Writing Project

The project was not nearly so neat and linear in its development.  At times it involved a tug of war with Dwight, trying to tease out old memories and subject them to scrutiny.  At times a clean and pleasing dialectic, a discussion with shape and momentum that yielded much in the way of insight, defined the contours of the writing effort. 

Dwight ushered me gently, yet firmly, and with unwavering patience through elements of his life, showing me things that I insisted on knowing when to him those elements would not guide me toward grasping what his life had meant to him. 

He nudged me through parts of his life that were hard to understand, escorted me toward things that were important to him, and allowed me to detour down “rabbit holes” that would snake around the edges of what his life so far meant to him without getting me closer to its core – until I re-emerged and re-oriented myself for another try at getting through the tangle of warrens and maze-like paths that crisscrossed his life without necessarily defining his trajectory. 

He guided me quietly, and from time to time issued forceful edicts aimed at shaping my thinking about his life, but when I’d fail to take those clues in hand and run with them, he calmly regrouped, remained understanding and helpful, and allowed me to run down the alleyways I decided to traipse through en route to this conclusion, knowing I’d emerge at a dead end somewhere and look around for another set of clues. 

Dwight was pretty clear about how he looked at his life, though occasionally untangling some of the cues involved extravagant investments of time and energy.  Sometimes, in respect to both benchmark moments in his life as well as more prosaic events, the gap between what was and what seemed to be took me on intriguing excursions. 

I pursued the “Minister” part of his identity by trying to immerse myself in Mennonite doctrine only to have Dwight say, calmly and repeatedly, that it is not about the religion and he is not about the teachings of one brand of thinking. 

I pursued the “Musician” part of the equation with equal vigor, tracking down field recordings, long missing private tapes and other archeological evidence of his early playing, only to hear Dwight suggest that there were reasons he never allowed himself to be photographed banjo in hand, and there were perfectly good explanations of why he never reached for a banjo in the privacy of his home to either “practice” or find solace in the old tunes.  The banjo is just a tool, he’d say, and if he could accomplish his goals with another tool he’d gladly throw over the banjo.

I went after the “Teacher” part of Dwight’s story with the same intensity of focus I attempted to bring to bear on the other components of this biography, in the first instance looking for metrics on the number of students and the number of classes taught that would demonstrate the impact of his teaching.  Dwight reminded me that he never really kept records of the sort that would enable this kind of quantification of his teaching impact, and if he had kept such files then he would probably not recall where he put them -- such was the artistic chaos of his life. 

The closest I came to being able to map out the links between salient aspects of Dwight’s life pursuits and moral commitments was a sense that Dwight’s musical interests overlapped with and at the same time derived from the obligation he assumed to listen to and preserve the tunes and stories of the old people.  And this co-existed with his eager interest in teaching these stories and this music to students committed enough to take the immersive plunge that Dwight believed this material requires.  His earnest desire to impart the lessons he learned about the music converged with his penchant for talking about what the old people and their old ways taught him about himself.  And the long, continuous route toward learning about self paralleled the trajectory of his path on the spiritual side of the equation. 

From the moment we first discussed the possibility of pursuing the goal of writing Dwight’s story in the early 2000s, he unleashed a torrent of email communication in which he described his devotion to God, discussed his personal challenges in life, reminisced about his musical journey and the way it was tied to his spiritual life and devotion to his religious beliefs, and described his portion of West Virginia -- the people, its politics, the long and unremitting economic challenges confronting the state, and the cultural character that emerged from this mix. 

This correspondence went on for over a decade, well beyond the point at which it occurred to me that a book project would not actually materialize.  Perhaps two years after we first discussed this venture, Dwight committed himself to a range of other efforts aimed at recording the stories told to him during the course of his life among West Virginian elders such as the Hammons, digitalizing his massive photograph collection documenting his relationship with that family, and recording more of the region’s great music.  With that massive undertaking before Dwight, I had no illusions that we’d be able to work together on a parallel effort focused on his own life story.  And Dwight, though he remained communicative and continued to share his views and answer questions on a wide range of issues and subjects, grew remote from his initial enthusiasm about writing his biography. 

During the first one or two years of our earnest yet stillborn effort to shape a book idea, I was intent on focusing on his music.  And Dwight was intent on fixing attention on his commitment to a spiritual life, his devotion to Jesus, and his thinking about the moral obligations of such commitments.  I felt decidedly unequipped to sustain discussions on these matters, and convinced that a book resulting from such a focus would be greeted by a deafening silence.  The question became moot because of the way the “Yew Piney Mountains” project emerged and came to dominate Dwight’s focus, and because of our quiet disagreement over how Dwight’s life should be represented.

At some point, I packed up much of my material -- files, photographs, and initial jottings – and put them aside, turning back to my own writing projects.  I adjusted to the notion that this would not happen, or that I would not be involved in any attempt to write this man’s biography, and moved on.  In 2009, I retired from the U.S. Government and my wife Mary and I retreated to Staunton, VA, out of the gravitational pull of Washington, D.C.  Dwight and I talked often, emailed consistently, but the project never emerged again as a subject until he raised the possibility of returning to this goal in a phone conversation in August 2014.  I suppose it was at that point Dwight decided, about a decade and a half into our friendship - sustained by this correspondence, periodic telephone calls, my own efforts to get from Dwight refreshing reminders of what I needed to do to play old time banjo effectively, gracefully, and responsibly - that he wanted to go forward with the idea first discussed in northern Virginia. 

That was about August 2014, around Dwight’s 68th birthday.  I completed the first draft in early August 2015, in time for Dwight’s 69th birthday. 

Why Me?

Given what so many friends, students, and casual observers had to say about Dwight’s inveterate dislike of the attention that would result from such a venture, and what these many people said about his visceral distain for interviews and musical memoirs, why did this happen, and why was I the writer in the driver’s seat? 

It think it happened because I decided, probably after so very many years of discussion about ideas, commitments, beliefs, and the spiritual life to which Dwight has been devoted, that a proper, effective biography would have to capture the way Dwight the Musician entwined with Dwight the West Virginian, Dwight the Teacher, and Dwight the Preacher – although he distained that term and drew strong distinctions between what he described as his Ministry and the career and obligations of a preacher.  He trusted me to figure out a way to write about his life in a manner that portrayed the centrality of his religious beliefs, and to strike on a way of writing about him that did not try to crowd out his commitment to these things in a book that featured his accomplishments in the Old Time music world. 

I think he also saw something very parallel to his own life in my identity as a Brooklyn boy – in fact, it was Dwight he first saddled me with the Brooklyn Banjo Boy label that became my identity (insofar as one’s email address can in fact do that).  I think Dwight saw similarities between the contours and complexities of negotiating life as a West Virginian -- from a small, isolated village with its own dialect and distinctive culture -- and my story as a kid from Brooklyn.  Dwight always saw my attempts at speaking English as those of a person from a minor village that had evolved its own minority dialect.  I confess that I did not necessarily share that view.  Brooklyn is a big city.  It was large when I lived there, and remained large even after I left at the age of twenty.  Bensonhurst, my neighborhood, had aspects of a separate ethnic enclave; it was hardly a shetl. 

I think Dwight was also convinced that I would be able to see into a different culture because of my own immersion in foreign languages.  Dwight always hung on stories of flawed cultural communication and unique, unifying moments of interaction between me and the various Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese with whom I conducted “official business” during the course of a thirty-year career in the U.S. government.  I think Dwight believed these struggles would suit me to brave the even more remote, isolated and unique culture of West Virginia, and perhaps make me patient enough to try and interpret his life and parse his words. 

Dwight, I later learned, told and retold some of the stories I passed on to him about my first encounters with a remote, embargoed and politically isolated Hanoi in the late 1980s.  He was particularly captivated by a little story that I told him after one visit:  I was walking around Hanoi in the vicinity of the Le Thach Guest House, the Foreign Ministry’s hotel for visiting delegations, when I was stopped by two large, overbearing, ill-kempt Russians who barraged me with a torrent of indecipherable Russian language questions and waved Russian paper money in front of me – it appeared that they had grown frustrated at their attempts to ask directions to the closest bank capable of and willing to change their money for local currency.  They quickly resorted to gestures and pantomime aimed at showing me they wanted to convert their Russian rubles to Vietnamese dong.

Two elderly Vietnamese gentlemen, clad in the favored dress of simple country folk, were hunched along the side of the street in that impossible posture that Southeast Asians take in a seated position, crouching down in a deep knee bend, poised and restful in a configuration that brings muscle cramps to my legs when I even think of this repose.  They could not avoid observing me and these two Russian bears since this entire scene took place right in front of them.  I motioned to the Russians to wait a moment, and turned to the two elderly men, explaining in Vietnamese that it appeared to me these two guests were looking for a bank.  I asked these two Vietnamese gentlemen - I used the honorific term “Uncles” - to please tell me where there might be a bank to which I could direct these two frantic foreigners.  Both Vietnamese Uncles shrugged, indicated that they could not possibly help, and made clear they had not the slightest idea of where it was these two Russians might go to exchange what was in their fat wallets for Vietnamese coin.  I explained to the Russians that our two Vietnamese friends could not help, that I myself did not know, and in the absence of anyone else on the street at this unpalatably early morning hour I had no way of helping.  They muttered in disgust and moved on. 

I turned to thank the two elders, and prepared to get back to my early morning walk.  One of the gentlemen reached up and grabbed my arm.  Both of them gestured to a large, imposing official structure just down the block from us and told me that this architectural wonder was in fact the National Bank.  Flustered, I blurted out the question: why didn’t they tell me so I could relay that to the Russians?  For several reasons, one of the Vietnamese elders answered.  First, the two were Russians, and neither he nor his friend could see any reason to be helpful to Russians.  And second, the two Russians never even saw them, looked right past them, as though they were invisible.  “They did not see us,” one of the Vietnamese said, at least in what I recall of this brief encounter that is by now a 25-year old memory. 

I think Dwight thought I would see him and I think that is why I got to do this biography.

The Tasks

I set about the task of trying to capture the details of his basic biography, the “family tree” sort of information, and delve into corners of his life - his young years, elementary and high school, his military service, and his college experiences – to tease out the facts and determine how and where he became musical. 

I focused on the manner in which Dwight became immersed in the old music, entangled with the old musicians, and committed to playing and teaching old style banjo and fiddle. 

But music was only a part of the story.  I had to delve into his faith, his commitment to God, and his seminary education along with the several churches where he worked as a Mennonite pastor after he completed his studies at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in the mid-1980s. 

And I had to trace out the way teaching became a critical element in Dwight’s life trajectory – and explore the connections between his commitment to that and his sense of his mission and the tasks his faith defined for him, and how that gained expression in Dwight’s lifelong efforts to teach old time banjo and fiddle.

For me, accustomed as I was to slogging through greying and worm-eaten captured Vietnamese documents and other arcane sources, looking at local old time music history was in its own way a distinctively challenging triple canopy jungle. 

I culled through public records and personal documents having to do with Dwight’s life.  I reviewed his college and seminary transcripts, his service records, his treasure trove of early family photographs.

I interviewed musicians and band members from the 1970s; friends from his days in Lexington, Virginia in the early 1970s; members of the A.A. Cutters band from Morgantown, West Virginia in the early 1970s; people he met and befriended at the old time festivals in Virginia and West Virginia in the 1970s and 1980s; some of his earliest banjo and fiddle students from the years 1970 – 1973; teachers from his seminary days in the mid-1980s; partners from the Library of Congress project on the Hammons family in the early 1970s, and colleagues and associates involved in his work in the early and mid 1980s and again in the first decade of the 2000s; collectors and field recorders and musicians who visited the Hammons family in the 1970s and 1980s; Hammons family members; Dwight’s sister; and former banjo and fiddle students who attended his many retreats from the 1980s to the 2000s.

I consulted with librarians associated with the American Folklife Collection of the Library of Congress, and librarians from the Southern Folklife Collection, Research and Instructional Services Department, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

With a lot, a lot of assistance from many musicians, I found recorded examples of Dwight’s banjo playing during this early period – right after he learned banjo in 1969-1970, that survived in personal recording libraries of old time music enthusiasts who attended the festivals at places such as Independence and Hillsville, Virginia, in the early 1970s, and captured some of the contests and jams on personal recording devices. 

With the help of Paul Deblois, Wayne Howard, John Huerta, Tom Mylet, Caroll Smith, Bob Thornburg, Stewart Seidel and many others I accumulated a collection of about 60 audio cassettes and videos documenting the evolution of Dwight’s teaching approach from the early 1980s to the first decade of the 2000s.  With the generous assistance of Cully Blake, Wayne Howard, Bill Hicks, Carl Fleischhauer, Bates Littlehales, Carroll Smith and others, I assembled a collection of photographs of Dwight Diller in a vast array of musical contexts – festivals, jams, gatherings, retreats, workshops and classes. 

My Motivation

Why did I decide to push forward with this writing project? 

The reason is this:  For me, Dwight made music accessible, and legitimized my desire to want music. 

He made playing banjo accessible to me, enabled me to break the code, and to do so in a way that was possible given my own personal constraints, my own capabilities. 

He made it so that I could listen to something, find the center of gravity of the music, and figure out a way to get to it on my banjo.  For me.  Quietly.  In the company of my hounds, in a way that made me happy.

I could not learn in the classes taught by others.  I could not keep dozen tunes taught in most banjo classes in my crowded brain. 

I could not haul along a tape recorder, and study repertoire taught at classes.  I couldn’t do that.  I could not follow a teacher’s fingers, figure out the notes, make my way through the technique, and come up with something I could do.  If I could “do” it, play it, I might still not “know” the music.  My brain had too much to do, and my whole body had too much to remember.  I had no room for that.

But Dwight found a way to give me room enough that I could make a music that moved me, that fit nicely with my life.  Simple.  Percussive.  Rhythmic.  Easy to understand.  I could get to that stuff, I could do that work, and I could learn that. 

I did not have time for the other way of acquiring tunes.  I could barely keep my languages in my brain.  I could barely compartmentalize all the information, the Standard Operating Procedures, and the issues that dominated my life.

But with Dwight I found a way to quietly, slowly, surely figure out the core of a music, the anatomy of a tune, and get done what I needed to in order to have music in my life. 

So, the story of what he did in teaching is important to me because it gave me hope that I had some room left in my life for something else.

Dwight uses the phrase “the tunes are not the music” to focus attention on what he is trying to impart in his classes.

My sense is that to Dwight, music is the rhythm and the inspiration, the internal feeling transmitted in playing, and perhaps the integral “cultural message,” combined – but “playing music” to Dwight does not entail having a massive arsenal of individual songs or tune versions.  Quantity is not important.  Quality is, and a carefully played tune, a version mastered technically and integrated into one’s life – so it resonates with every fiber and clings to thoughts, and insinuates its way into your quiet thinking moments – that is how Dwight thinks of what a tune means to one’s music.

That approach gave me hope that I could find room somewhere in my life for this old music. 

That’s why when Dwight asks me to listen to something, to think on something, to try playing with a relaxed hand, to bring some of the snap and tension left over from parts of my life – that’s why I try.

The Lone Pilgrim

The title for the book is “Dwight Diller: West Virginia Mountain Musician.”  That is a far cry from some of my earlier, florid, poetic titles – none of which suited the publisher, none of which conformed with the rules of naming a book that have served this company for decades. 

I took the original draft working title for the book from a tune Dwight sings, unaccompanied by any music, on his New Plowed Ground album.   The song, “The Lone Pilgrim,” always struck me as raw and energetic, and meaningfully sung by Dwight, though the meaning of the lyrics were never quite clear to me even with the assistance of analytical resources, exegetical essays, and interpretations offered by knowledgeable friends and colleagues.  My connection to the tune was more emotive; it evoked a feeling of contemplative isolation for me, and brought to me a picture of a solitary figure standing on a rock by a rough body of water, contemplating enduring meanings all around him. 

Dwight demurred.  He was not certain that it was the right title, or an appropriate handle for this biography.  I am not sure that my conviction that this tune, and his rendition of it, summarized for me the spirit and intent of his life, especially since the history of the tune and its intended meaning, its biblical references, remained remote or inaccessible to me.  I continued to believe that it worked, but was prepared to part with it – after all, though it summoned Dwight’s core to my mind, it might not do so for prospective readers or potential publishers and I was therefore prepared to stand corrected. 

Once we agreed to take another run at this project sometime around mid-August 2014, Dwight and I began corresponding and talking by phone on a daily basis.  The subject of the working title never came up again in the course of this communication; I began referring to the enterprise as The Diller Project (or the Dllr Prjct, an irreverent reference to his own abbreviation of his name).

In early October, Dwight began to use the “Lone Pilgrim” reference in his emails to me, especially as he attempted to describe his ministry, the emergence of his realization that he would lead a life of service to God.  He seemed to identify with the image of the Pilgrim, with the call that from the Master that summoned the Lone Pilgrim to his spiritual journey, and with the hardships endured and the losses suffered.  He would often couple two phrases, “Lost Pilgrim” and “Lost Ball in the High Weeds,” a reference to the manner in which a professor of his during his Mennonite seminary years depicted beaten, downtrodden folks. 

In mid-October, after the “Lone Pilgrim” had become a fixture phrase in some of Dwight’s emails, I returned to the words of the tune, first reaching out to Doc Watson’s fine, evocative version.[1]  I noticed Dwight’s version to be different enough to merit some attention.  Dwight sang:

I come to the spot where the lone pilgrim lay
And silently stood by his tomb,
And in a low whisper I heard something say,
"How sweetly I sleep here alone."
"The tempest may howl and the loud thunder roar,
And the gathering storms may arise,
But calm is my spirit, at rest is my soul,
The tears are all wiped from mine eyes."
"The call of my Master compelled me from home,
I bid my companion farewell.
I left my dearest children for me do now mourn
In a far distant region to dwell.
I wandered in exile, a stranger from home
No friends nor relations were nigh.
I met with contagion and sank to the tomb.
But my spirit ascended on high.
"Go tell my companion and children most dear
Not to weep for their loved one that’s gone.
The same hand that led me through scenes dark and dreary
Has kindly conducted me home."

Dwight “silently” stands by the Lone Pilgrim’s tomb.  In other versions the visitor was standing “pensively” by the gravesite.  In the face of gathering storms, the Lone Pilgrim’s “spirit” was calm – while other versions spoke of a calm “feeling” and a restful soul.  Dwight spoke of the “call” of his Master that “compelled” him from home while other versions referred to the Master’s “cause;” to me the “call” is far more mysterious a summons than a “cause.”  Other versions spoke of the lack of kinfolk and other familiar anchors in the landscape of life once the cause compelled the Lone Pilgrim to the journey referenced in the tune.  Dwight lingered on the lonesome quality of life, the separation explicit in the commitment to this course of action.  He sang, in the voice of the Lone Pilgrim:

I bid my companion farewell.
I left my dearest children for me do now mourn
In a far distant region to dwell.
I wandered in exile, a stranger from home
No friends nor relations were nigh.

The loss, the separation, was far clearer here than in other versions of the tune.  And where, in other versions, the Lone Pilgrim’s voice said that his “soul flew to mansions on high," in Dwight’s version, the “spirit ascended on high,” a far more austere image and one that did not attach that spirit to a destination, in the form of “mansions on high.”  That is, in Dwight’s version of the tune, the spirit ascended, but had no final resting place.  It might have become an eternal vapor, or it might have dissipated into droplets, multiple pieces of spirit.  There was no resolution as to where this version of the soul went.  

In Dwight’s version, the last instructions of the Lone Pilgrim were slightly more direct, and the assurances offered were more firm.  Though in other versions, the Lone Pilgrim endured “scenes most severe,” in Dwight’s version the scenes were more explicitly “dark and dreary.”  And though other versions make clear that the Long Pilgrim has been “kindly assisted” home, in Dwight’s version there was a more forceful sense that the Lone Pilgrim was led, guided directly by the hand – “kindly conducted” home, a sentence that imparted a greater sense of leadership having been exerted. 

I can still listen to both Dwight’s version and Doc’s singing of the tune and be stunned by the simplicity of words used to plumb such a great spiritual depth. 

Dwight remained reluctant to claim any sort of title, even a descriptive phrase, that might suggest he was drawing attention to himself.  And even in the midst of embracing the notion that this tune, one that had effectively been his since he recorded it in 1993, summarized some of the spirit that had infused the way he sought to live, he evinced a reluctance, and the most he would do was acknowledge that he felt to be “A Lone Pilgrim,” but not by choice. 

Dwight recorded the Papa album that included the “Lone Pilgrim” tune in 1993, close to a quarter century ago.  His fear was that in his 68th year the song no longer reflected who he was and what he had become.  He hesitated and was ill-at-ease with the lyrics.  He considered the shambles of his childhood home life, the premature deaths of people who counted to him, reversals in fortunes, mounting health issues, and a pervasive sense of isolation and hopelessness, and wondered whether anything in his life was up to the task assumed by the Lone Pilgrim. 

Dwight saw the words in this song as those of a man singularly burdened, but inclined to recognize that, in spite of the ceaselessness of the trials he has confronted, the “hand’ that led him through “seas most severe” was waiting to kindly assist him home.


Toward the end of 2015, after the manuscript had gone to the publisher, Dwight got a “second wind,” so to speak. 

With the help of a friend of mine nearby, Gene Bowlen, in Port Republic, Virginia, who does recording work in a studio on his property, Dwight decided to go back into the studio and lay down some tracks for a new CD or two.   That happened in mid-November.  My friend planned to develop a Kickstarter campaign to jump-start this project. 

Dwight began to give some thought to working on a book of his own stories; he captured the stories of the Hammons family, but by now his own stories have "come of age."  I'm hoping that he'll make some headway.  Sometime at the end of the summer he got himself a hand held recording device.  I assembled a bunch of stories during the course of the book project, wrote them up, and handed them back to Dwight hoping that would be the kernel for such a project. 

Dwight also started thinking about putting out a CD of some of his earliest banjo and fiddle playing.  During the course of my work on the book, I assembled a lot of "field recordings" from folks who taped contests and jam sessions in the 1970s and 1980s, and with the help of my sound engineer/recording friend, Dwight and some of his associates will give some thought to putting together a "The Best of Diller" type compilation.   Dwight unearthed in his own files some “unpublished” sound cuts from earlier recording sessions, and his friends John Morris, Dave and some others seemed to have a stock of recordings from their live performances that would add some throw weight to a project of this sort. 

Dwight took advantage of 21st century technology, and using “BandCamp” made most of his prior and long out of print CDs accessible once more.  Some banjo students of Dwight’s have very strongly voiced interest in seeing Dwight’s instructional tapes placed on DVDs – they were produced as videos.  Dwight was inclined to look into that.  He was also working on a boxed set of about four CDs that he intended to develop from his sound archive, tunes he recorded but did not use on prior CD projects, including gospel, children’s tunes, and instrumentals – intended largely for a local population in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, that remains single mindedly invested in the old local tunes. 

Finally, in November 2015, he and Terry Richardson of Marlinton (a guitar player) performed a small house concert in Port Republic, at Gene Bowlen’s home – or rather his recording studio stage – after a day of taping. 

The book project might have lent some urgency and some energy to these pursuits, to the renewed energy Dwight brought to these efforts to get his music out and about after a long spell during which they had become inaccessible. 

On the other hand, both the book and the renewed push to put this music out there might simply own a lot to the enduringly genuine character of this old music that every so often re-surfaces and finds a new audience. 

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