PERFORMING ARTS

Mandolin Man: The Bluegrass Life of Roland White

Univ. of Illinois Jun. 2022. 280p. ISBN 9780252086403. pap. $19.95. MUSIC
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In this affectionate, sometimes poignant biography of bluegrass musician Roland White (b. 1938), banjoist Black (Come Hither To Go Yonder: Playing Bluegrass with Bill Monroe) traces White’s journey: childhood experimentation with the mandolin at age six in Maine, teenage gigs with his siblings in California, and Nashville and European tours as a member of some of the seminal bands in the genre (including Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, the Kentucky Colonels, and the Nashville Bluegrass Band). White’s vocals and his facility on both mandolin and guitar have stood the test of time, and Black devotes space to discussing the intricacies of White’s playing style, as well as to individual bluegrass tracks and albums. Charming archival photographs, a helpful index of people, and an exhaustive discography enhance the volume.
VERDICT Black’s own relevant musical experience, alongside his interviews with White, his family, and country music icons such as Marty Stuart, make this biography a must-read for bluegrass aficionados. Although White may not be a household name to those outside the bluegrass scene, he richly deserves this long-awaited tribute.
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