The Big Ballad Jamboree by Donald Davidson

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Synopsis

Uproariously funny and filled with choice narration, The Big Ballad Jamboree is Donald Davidson's only novel.

He set his story- the romance of hillbilly and country singer Danny MacGregor with folk singer and ballad scholar Cissy Timberlake- in the fictional western North Carolina town of Carolina City during the summer of 1949. The late forties, just after WWII and before the rise of national television, are great years for classic country music on live radio. Yet this Appalachian community is struggling to embrace a modern commercial economy without losing its folk heritage.

In this setting Davidson draws lively satirical pictures: civic boosters allied with shameless politicians; a local sheriff, a barber, and a dean cooperating to protect the image of a college; a folklore professor seeking fame by promoting a ballad-singing bootlegger. Seen through the eyes of a country boy with a musical gift descended from mountain people, this novel is a highbrow art about memorable lowbrow characters. It is also a great read.

Those who know Davidson as a poet and scholar may be surprised to learn that he wrote a novel about country music. Here his long romance with southern folk life and mountain balladry captures the evolution of hillbilly singers into Grand Ole Opery stars as he pursues vexing questions about folk authenticity in country music.

Long thought lost, The Big Ballad Jamboree now is published for the first time. The famous teacher of young writers as Robert Penn Warren, Jesse Stuart, and Elizabeth Spencer never saw publication of his own novel. The mystery of its fate resolved at long last with the publication of the complete manuscript, discovered by a granddaughter in family files.

 

About Donald Davidson

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Donald Davidson was born in Tennessee in 1893. He was a critic and poet at Vanderbilt University, where he belonged to the "Fugitive" group, which was composed of defenders of Southern culture. Davidson helped to found the Fugitive magazine and his essays are included in I'll Take My Stand (1930), the famous work on southern agrarianism. Other essays by Davidson include "Still Rebels, Still Yankees." His work, The Attack on Leviathan: Regionalism and Nationalism in the United States, attacks the modern capitalist threat to traditional Southern culture and agrarian economy. His poetry includes An Outland Piper, Lee in the Mountains and Other Poems, Including the Tall Men, and The Long Street.
 
Published March 1, 1996 by University Press of Mississippi. 295 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction

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