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Ronald Kidd - August 2019

Ken Burnss Country Music and Lord of the Mountain

On September 15, Ken Burns’s eight-part documentary series Country Music will premiere on PBS. This series, like Burns’s previous series The Civil War, Baseball, The National Parks, and Jazz, tells the story of a uniquely American tradition that has shaped us in deep and important ways.  

Part 1, “The Rub (Beginnings-1933),” tells the story of the Bristol sessions, the so-called “big bang” of country music, which provide the setting for my latest novel, Lord of the Mountain.

In the summer of 1927, Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company packed up his recording equipment and headed to Bristol, a little town on the Tennessee-Virginia border, where he issued a call for musicians to come down from the mountains and audition. 

Among the people who came to the auditions were the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Stonemen, and dozens of others who became the mothers and fathers of country music.

My fictional characters, thirteen-year-old Nate Owens and his friend Sue Dean Baker, live in Bristol and witness the sessions. They meet the Carter Family, shown here, and that encounter sends them off on adventures that take them over the mountains and into a musical mystery at the heart of Nate’s family.

Watch the Ken Burns series to explore the beginnings of country music, then read Lord of the Mountain to live them.

Phrases That Clang in My Ear: Part 2

In my last newsletter I described several expressions that have crept into our language and spread like weeds—odd and often unnecessary words and phrases such as Sooner rather than later, In real time, and On the ground. Here are two more that I’ve noticed.  

So…
So it seems that everyone, including me, is beginning sentences this way. So when did this start? So why did it start? Maybe people feel that so is a way to ease into a sentence, serving as a kind of verbal onramp, rather than (heaven forbid) just saying it. In this way, so is a distant cousin to the dreaded like.  

Lately I’ve noticed that some people are ending sentences with so. As in, “Well, I guess I’d better be going. So….” (The voice trails off and the person oozes away.) So… what? Just spit it out!

Suggestion: So stop it.

Is that a thing?
Have you heard this one? (Biscuits and cauliflower—is that a thing? Wearing earbuds in church—is that a thing?) The first few times I heard someone say this, I thought it was funny. Now, like so many catchphrases, it’s starting to get old. Soon, I fear, everything will be a thing.

Suggestion: Laugh while you can.

Now Available

  • Lord of the Mountain
    The “big bang” of country music in 1927 at Bristol, Tennessee.
    Read more
  • Room of Shadows
    Edgar Allan Poe returns and gets the glorious death he deserved.
    Read more
Learn about my books, plays, and music at ronaldkidd.com.
Download a sampler of chapters from three of my latest books.

Copyright © 2019 Ronald Kidd, All rights reserved.


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