cover image From Every Stage: Images of America's Roots Music

From Every Stage: Images of America's Roots Music

Stephanie P. Ledgin. University Press of Mississippi, $40 (146pp) ISBN 978-1-57806-740-4

This exhilarating collection of 200 b&w and color photographs focuses on the musicians, singers and dancers of folk music, encompassing bluegrass, blues, Cajun, Celtic and country. The sounds of fiddle and banjo are nearly audible as readers flip through shots of Roy Acuff's Smoke Mountain Boys from the late 1970s, David ""Dawg"" Grisman on stage at the Bottom Line in 1985, and a spontaneous bluegrass jam in a hotel lobby in Louisville, Ky., in 2003. Some of the musicians that journalist and photographer Ledgin has captured are famous-e.g,. Bela Fleck, Arlo Guthrie, Emmylou Harris, Wynona Judd, Pete Seeger, Doc Watson-but many are not; and interviews with figures like Bill Monroe, ""Father of Bluegrass,"" shed light on the musicians' motivations for playing the music. The dance photos are striking, particularly a shot of the Green Grass Cloggers, who introduced choreographed routines based on four-couple western square dance figures, in which the quartet leaps into the air, shirts and skirts flying. These photos, taken over the past 30 years, pay tribute to a quintessential American art form.