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Review: John Cohen on Roscoe Holcomb - book

Desert Dancer 23 Mar 13 - 02:09 PM
matt milton 23 Mar 13 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 24 Mar 13 - 11:54 AM
dick greenhaus 28 Mar 13 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 29 Mar 13 - 04:54 AM
dick greenhaus 31 Mar 13 - 01:20 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Apr 13 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 05 Apr 13 - 06:41 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Apr 13 - 08:12 AM
dick greenhaus 05 Apr 13 - 01:10 PM
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Subject: Review: John Cohen on Roscoe Holcomb - book
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 23 Mar 13 - 02:09 PM

2+ years ago, John Cohen released a DVD combining his classic 1962 film The High Lonesome Sound and his new film, Roscoe Holcomb from Daisy Kentucky, along with other performances throughout the years. thread here, also, thread collecting several articles about Cohen from that time.

He has now put out a book that comes packaged with the DVD and a CD and that is being reviewed well. Apparently it was released in November 2012, but the only reviews I'm finding are in the UK this month... maybe these are folks who waited to get the paperback?

Book Review - The High & Lonesome Sound: The Legacy of Roscoe Holcomb by John Cohen

Julia Coulton
No Depression
March 12, 2013

John Cohen has produced much more than a handsome coffee table book of staggeringly beautiful photographs, which record for posterity a way of life in rural East Kentucky that no longer exists, but which is forever preserved through its legacy of song. This fascinating and mesmerizingly beautiful tribute to Roscoe Holcomb also contains a fabulous DVD of two 30 minute films about the man, and a CD of his music too. Now that's what I call real value for money, entirely justifying the £25 cost.

Their relationship was the result of a random encounter in 1959 by Cohen, a New York photographer and music enthusiast, who was desperate to find the real sound and images of rural Appalachia. After following several fruitless leads to find authentic musicians, he stumbled upon 'Rossie' after some local boys directed him to his home. When Cohen first heard Roscoe, who had just returned from a hard day's work, play he recalls that 'it made the hairs on my neck stand on end'.

The powerful and moving music that Holcomb played was influenced by bluegrass, gospel, and traditional folk ballads. And the images in this book reveal the harsh way of life - at work down the mines and in the fields, and at home in dirt poor shacks. Their hard lives are not bemoaned here but recorded as fact. Music was not an optional leisure pursuit, these people simply needed to play and sing to be able to endure the hardships of everyday living; much like the slaves had sang to keep their native homeland alive in their hearts, and the Welsh miners had male voice choirs to get them through.

Poor as they were Holcomb and the people of his community treasured their musical instruments, complete with improvised string straps. There is a lovely picture a George Davis 'The Singing Miner' with his beautiful and proudly held Martin guitar. Cohen's friendship allowed Holcomb to perform all over the world and make some much needed money.   It's sad to hear how his welfare payments were stopped through due to his meagre new earnings, pushing his family back into destitution.

Roscoe's voice is raw and full of emotion, and won famous admirers such as Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. But his head was evidently not turned by such attention, and he remained rooted in his deep faith, and in the company of his family and friends in Kentucky, despite playing concerts far and wide. He didn't emulate others in his playing style: 'I never did want to be like nobody in my playing. I just played, and that's it.' And the DVD also features his son Odabie playing a beautiful, sad protest song, War In Viet Nam - I haven't been able to track it down elsewhere yet but I will keep on searching. Roscoe died in 1981, alone in a nursing home.

The black and white photographs which form the main part of the book are simply stunning. They pay homage to a man and his community who had little, most of the women and children are barefoot as they work and play, but whose rich musical talent and heritage is undeniable, and thanks to John Cohen, is preserved for the delight of us all. A breathtakingly beautiful and haunting book.
---

See also Sean O'Hagan, at The Guardian.

Here is the publisher's page: Steidl for the $110 hardcover, which it lists as "sold out". U.S. list price for paperback is $58, but Amazon.com has it for about $40. I'm sure that Dick and Camsco have it, too.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Review: John Cohen on Roscoe Holcomb - book
From: matt milton
Date: 23 Mar 13 - 02:18 PM

wow, need to get this...


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Subject: RE: Review: John Cohen on Roscoe Holcomb - book
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 24 Mar 13 - 11:54 AM

That is an absolute must have if ever there was one. Go on. Make my day. Tell me there's an accompanying CD full of previously unreleased Roscoe Holcomb performances.


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Subject: RE: Review: John Cohen on Roscoe Holcomb - book
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 28 Mar 13 - 04:26 PM

If I can get three or four people to order it, CAMSCO can sell it for anout $5 off AMAZON's price ($38.66). I do need to know in advance, since I have neither room nor working capital to store unsold copies.
You can order at dick@camscomusic.com.


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Subject: RE: Review: John Cohen on Roscoe Holcomb - book
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 29 Mar 13 - 04:54 AM

This is a stunning book, chock full of amazing photographs. Sadly, there is only one previously unissued track on the accompanying CD and both of the films on the DVD are already available elsewhere. I ordered a softback edition on-line and was pleasantly surprised when the hardback edition arrived.


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Subject: RE: Review: John Cohen on Roscoe Holcomb - book
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 31 Mar 13 - 01:20 PM

Only one taker so far. Nobody innarested?


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Subject: RE: Review: John Cohen on Roscoe Holcomb - book
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Apr 13 - 04:00 PM

Last Call!
If you want to purchase the book from CAMSCO, you'll need to contact me before this weekend. I'm placig n order on Monday.


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Subject: RE: Review: John Cohen on Roscoe Holcomb - book
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 05 Apr 13 - 06:41 AM

Dick,

Just for information. I know of two people who have purchased this book in the U.K for around £28.00 including postage. AND it is the hard back edition. It was from a company that I do not like to deal with but when I see the price given as £72.00 in the Guardian Review, I wonder how come such a discrepancy and how can you compete.

I understand also that many of the phtographs are printed across the gutter so that in many shots people (or parts of them) in the photographs disappear in the join of the pages. Bad/stupid lay-out.
I'll wait for it to be remaindered.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Review: John Cohen on Roscoe Holcomb - book
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Apr 13 - 08:12 AM

Just secured my copy from The Book Depository (post free) for £23-14
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: John Cohen on Roscoe Holcomb - book
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 05 Apr 13 - 01:10 PM

My offer is really only for US residents---unlike CAMSCO MUsic publications, which are printed both in the US and the UK, I'd have to ship this overseas, at a prohibitive shipping cost.


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