Review – Ken Burns Country Music Documentary, Ep. 1 “The Rub”
Over seven years of full-time labor on the part of numerous people, over 101 interviews conducted, countless hours of archival work digging up old photographs, audio, video, and other vintage material, and an elongated year-long promotional effort finally culminated in the broadcast of the debut episode for the Ken Burns Country Music epic Sunday evening (9-15). The quality of a Ken Burns film is always appreciated and immediately recognizable. Whatever the material being covered, it’s always a warm feeling to settle into Ken’s latest dalliance into American history, to hear the narration of Peter Coyote, and behold the care and love given to the subject matter.
The first episode began with possibly the most important moment of the entire film, which consisted of country legends and personalities laboring to define what country music is. Dolly Parton offered her always-valued insight. You couldn’t help but get choked up a little bit when Merle Haggard came on the screen—one of the many country legends Ken Burns interviewed before their passing. Merle expertly said, “[Country music] is about these things that we believe in, but we can’t see, like dreams, and songs, and souls. They’re hanging around here, and songwriters reach out and get them.”
The recently-passed Mel Tillis also made an appearance, as did Holly Williams, Kathy Mattea, Rosanne Cash, and other important country music personalities that don’t regularly receive screen time in this era of popular culture. But the topic of discussion for the first episode was the very kernel origins of country music. Though some of the criticism preceding the film from those who’ve viewed it in its entirety is that it’s too light on detail and doesn’t pay enough attention to the African American contributions to country music, that didn’t pertain to this chapter.
With great depth, the dual origins of country music are laid out, how white Europeans and African slave ancestors gave rise to the music in the American South. Rhiannon Giddens is one of the tour guides through this period, coining the concoction of black and white influences in country music as “The Rub.” Just how important the African American influence on country music is gets underscored not just in the stories and pictures of early African American performers, but of many important Caucasian performers such as Jimmie Rodgers appeared in blackface to impersonate the black performers they were influenced by. Rhiannon Giddens also gives an actual illustration of the early banjo style that was cool to watch.
Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show might have been the most impressive personality to appear in the episode, offering a lot of great commentary and insight into the primitive origins of country music. This first episode may work as a coming out party for Ketch as one of country music’s premier contemporary intellectuals, with plenty of experience as a musician to back it up.
The first episode also covered the rise of Fiddlin’ John Carson, who was country music’s first commercially successful star, plenty of in-depth insight into the origins of The Carter Family, the Bristol Sessions, Jimmie Rodgers, Uncle Dave Macon, and harmonica player Deford Bailey and his importance to country’s rise on radio. Though many radio stations and programs deserve credit for the origin of country music, it’s no surprise that WSM and the Grand Ole Opry are a focal point in the film. As is explained, WSM was initially launched solely to sell insurance, with the call letters standing for “We Shield Millions,” stressing how country music has always been a close sibling to advertisement.
The great Marty Stuart, who is characterized as the “mascot” of this film, shows up in the second half of he episode, and offers a great quote in, “If Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood, or whoever the hottest girl of the moment is wants to know where they come from, they need to go all the way back to the voice of Sara Carter [of The Carter Family].”
About the only concern for the content of the episode could be how Burns—and unabashed jazz guy—went on a couple of tangents to talk about jazz’s origins that felt a little self-indulgent. And no offense to Wynton Marsalis, but he seemed like a strange commentator for the subject matter.
There are still seven more episodes to go, and things could always go downhill from here. But the first taste of this film felt like a great start, even if a little fey in its subject matter for general audiences. There will be plenty of time spent on Hank Williams, the Outlaws, and Loretta Lynn in the future. But now the table is set for the superstars who owe their origins to the important influences and moments covered in this debut installment.
Good work so far.
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If you missed the episode, you can streaming it online now HERE.
September 16, 2019 @ 7:34 am
Not committing to reviewing every episode just yet, but we’ll see how this goes. This first one seemed especially important.
September 16, 2019 @ 7:55 am
I loved it. I was also thinking that the criticism that it doesn’t go in depth enough was certainly not true for this episode. If anything, I was wishing in the second hour for things perhaps to go a little more quickly. I watched it with my parents, and they were impressed — but also couldn’t believe that after two hours we’re only at 1933 and Hank Williams is not until the third episode! I think after 16 hours, nearly every viewer will be pleased with the amount of material covered.
Also, my mom loved Ketch Secor and asked, “Who’s that kid?” I said “he’s the lead singer of Old Crow Medicine Show, an amazing band.” I could have also added that he’s not a kid. He’s probably in his 40’s!
September 16, 2019 @ 8:07 am
It seems like some of the reviewers might have given greater weight to the last episode, which tries to encapsulate decades and probably says nothing about African American performers, as opposed to the opening episodes for the film which do go into great detail.
Also, if people want even greater detail, including in this first episode, there is the companion book I have been touting, that really does include a lot of stuff the film doesn’t, but ties in well.
September 16, 2019 @ 2:56 pm
Just looking at the episode synopses, it does seem that they start to speed things up, especially in the second half (episodes 5-8) airing next week. I’m really curious tonight what they will do with 2 hours just covering the time between Rodgers and Williams! I’m fairly well-read on the history of country music, and I actually knew most of last night’s material already. But I have very little idea what happens from 1933-45. That makes me both excited and a bit anxious that it will be too much for most viewers.
September 16, 2019 @ 8:06 am
Loved it too. Off to a great start. Having the Hag in there gives it a hell of an anchor.
September 16, 2019 @ 8:36 am
Surprised (maybe I shouldn’t be) and encouraged by Rhiannon Giddens’ input. She clearly has no grudges or divisive political angles to promote. There’s such a caustic, adversarial tone to most discussion about culture/music these days. Her explanation and analysis of “the rub”, the mixture of culture and music in the south, was refreshing.
Also, man, I could listen to Marty Stuart read the phone book all day. He’d make it sound interesting. A natural, engaging, affable storyteller. He’s a gem. For those who haven’t seen it, I recommend watching his “What’s In My Bag” interview with Amoeba on YouTube. Some fun stories there.
September 16, 2019 @ 10:52 am
Rhiannon Giddens is a treasure, and always has been.
September 16, 2019 @ 8:37 am
I enjoyed every minute…loved learning so many things about the very eariest stages of the genre. And I’ve followed country for many, many years.
September 16, 2019 @ 8:51 am
Missed this last night to see Willie in Raleigh, but thanks for the reminder and link Trig.
September 16, 2019 @ 9:28 am
I thought the first episode was great. I had some things to do around the house and couldn’t walk away from it without pausing it. Now I just need to figure out how to tell my wife there are 7 more parts. Plus I’ll have to find the time for my own research and listening since I’m sure this series is going to send me down several different rabbit holes. Being a huge fan of multiple genres, I know a little about a lot of different types of music but can’t say I have gone super in depth on all aspects of Country (except on the history of the steel guitar).
September 16, 2019 @ 9:29 am
I have the PBS App check about 6:30 (CT) to see if it was up and was surprised to see the whole thing up there. I watched 2 episodes, which is nice since I can’t watch it live tonight. I’ll probably still watch the 3rd episode tonight though. It’s great stuff.
September 16, 2019 @ 9:34 am
I think that if you are a die-hard longtime TRUE fan of country music , you had to love this episode . I think if you aren’t a fan , this particular episode probably wouldn’t make you one . I found it a tad tedious at times and can appreciate how the uninitiated might find it even more so .
Most viewers-country music fans or otherwise – in 2019 don’t , in all likelihood , have a connection emotionally or historically to the ground and the people covered in episode one . I’m certain , however , that if we make it through the first several episodes and come away with even a slight understanding of the origins of the subject it will make the ensuing chapters that much more interesting and accessible . At this point I see most viewers as learning the language so as to more fully understand the narrative as it moves forward .
September 16, 2019 @ 9:38 am
Hey, quick question:
who benefits from this?
Most of us who love Country Music already know about Uncle Dave, and John Carson and the Carter Family.
The only people who need to know about Country Music proper are the same people who can’t be expected to watch a PBS special
I’m not even sure Jason Aldean could even spell PBS
I love proper coverage of Country Music,
and YEAH Jazz was built out of Country.
Charlie Parker the sax player was a huge country music fan.
but my point is that the people responsible for eroding it aren’t the sort of people who would even watch this in the first place.
So how are we supposed to feel like we’ve won?
September 16, 2019 @ 9:53 am
“I’m not even sure Jason Aldean could even spell PBS”
Even if you spot him P and B…
I learned some new things, and some things were things forgotten, so it was a nice refresher course.
I get the feeling some people who aren’t serious country music fans may tune out after the first episode. Too old-timey or hill-billy (don’t get Dolly started on that…)
September 16, 2019 @ 11:07 am
Phatties, Beer, and Syphilis? Now that’s a PBS that IS supported by Aldean and his fans
September 16, 2019 @ 10:54 am
First of all, it’s not about “winning” some culture war.
But I would argue, with Trigger I think?, that the biggest current threat to Country Music is not from Jason Aldean, or even Jason Aldean’s fans (who also aren’t likely to watch this), but from current columnists, historians, “critics and journalists”, thinkpiece-ers, and academicians. For them, 16 hours of Ken Burns on PBS meets them where they are. And this doc, with its surrounding moment, has a chance to be very influential in that space.
September 16, 2019 @ 1:49 pm
I’m no fan of the mainstream media’s frequently condescending and ignorant attitude to country music, but the main threat to the genre is definitely the industry – the labels, radio stations etc. They’re the ones who’ve flooded the market with cheap Bruno Mars knockoffs and generic list songs aimed at the lowest common denominator.
September 16, 2019 @ 10:55 am
Re: Jazz and Country
Yes, jazz evolved from the same music that country evolved from; no, Burns/interviewees didn’t overstate these genres’ common roots; but yes, Burns’ tangents on jazz felt self-indulgent.
Since the program is “Country Music”, not “American Roots Music”, you can (or not!) just note that several genres grew out of the same roots in American music that country grew out of, and then stay on topic: the titular Country Music.
And just to contextualize your cherry-picking: to Charlie Parker loving country, I give you Buddy Rich absolutely despising country music.
September 18, 2019 @ 10:57 am
I saw that interview with Buddy Rich on Dick Cavett last year and it kinda pissed me off. He came across as pretty much a dick.
September 20, 2019 @ 3:13 am
To be precise: a schmuck.
I saw him running his big mouth on the Mike Douglas Show, taking a dump on Glen Campbell, Boots Randolph & CHET ATKINS…
He and his frantic rat-a-tat-tatting were largely forgotten as soon as he vanished into the void.
September 20, 2019 @ 7:40 am
He was all up there talking about music theory, and saying anyone who knows music theory knows that country music is for morons (or something to that effect). Well, I never took music theory, but I know what I like, and I like country music. So screw you, Buddy Rich!
September 16, 2019 @ 9:42 am
I thought Winton Marsalis made one of the most amusing, pithy conments of the episode, when he tied the relationship of honky tonk to gospel. “You listened to bawdy music on Saturday night and repented with gospel on Sunday morning, repeated weekly”. It does not have to be your mileau to appreciate it. I have found that the great musicians have stated when interviewed, that they listen to a lot wider range of music than what they are known for.
September 16, 2019 @ 10:27 am
I believe, though it remains to be seen, that this documentary will do nothing but add to the already growing interest in authentic country music and increase demand for the good stuff. As we know, the country music “establishment” that tries to determine what becomes a hit is almost literally tone-deaf and that so far they’ve been content to let our money sit on the table in a way that seems very short-sighted. But there will come a point where the amount of money stake will start to sway them, as well the evidence of their diminishing power and influence. So, I think that will be a “win” for artists and fans alike.
I think it will have an effect similar to “O Brother Where Art Thou” only larger.
A lot of people will watch it simply because it’s Ken Burns and they will watch anything with his name attached.
September 16, 2019 @ 10:05 am
I have read that Burns only listens to Country music now after doing all the research and learning so much about it. That will happen to a person. Once you open the door, and your mind, even a little bit, it moves right in and takes over. It happened to me!
September 16, 2019 @ 11:00 am
And hopefully it happens for many others over the lifespan of this doc! I’m really hopeful about this project’s potential to be both a “moment” for Country Music and a resource and touchstone for the genre going forward.
September 16, 2019 @ 12:43 pm
I opened the door a few years ago, and though it’s not the “only” kind of music I listen to, it’s certainly been the dominant genre in my life. I never expected that. I’m just glad there are so many contemporary artists, working outside of pop country radio, to explore – most of whom I’ve been introduced to by SCM.
I just hope, since the doc ends at 1996, that curious viewers don’t quit exploring. Documentaries like this can inadvertently give the impression that the “good” stuff is ancient history. Not so. Current artists deserve love and support too!
September 16, 2019 @ 3:06 pm
Me too. I didnt start listening to country music until my late 30’s. Im almost 45 now and its basically all I listen to. It’s been an awesome journey.
September 17, 2019 @ 5:17 am
The editor said something similar. He never paid attention to country music but now loves it.
September 17, 2019 @ 7:50 am
I can’t imagine limiting yourself to only country music with so much amazing styles of music out there over the course of human life. So weird. I can understand getting balls deep in country for a long time, especially after researching it as painstakingly as he did, at least for a little while, but for people to only listen to country music just sounds boring.
September 16, 2019 @ 10:05 am
I enjoyed it, and will continue to enjoy it, but I feel like an audience that *both* loves (or at least is interested in) country *and* has the patience for a 16-hour doc is pretty slim.
I like docs, and I like country, so I’m good, but my wife likes country but doesn’t like long-winded docs. So, she won’t be watching.
We did watch the “Live at the Ryman” concert together and that seemed like a more engaging primer for novices who might not have the patience for super-long doc. It covered some basic history, sure, but also perfectly conveyed the notion that country isn’t some dead, archaic, alien genre. It’s still vital, and having a living artist perform a decades old song conveys a message that a stodgy documentary simply can’t.
September 16, 2019 @ 10:54 am
I think Ken Burns has a fandom all his own that will watch whatever he puts out. And as much as people like to grumble about Millennials, they are way more likely to watch a long-form documentary on anything than follow a football or baseball season. I think there will definitely be some cross pollination through this film.
September 16, 2019 @ 11:51 am
I hope you’re right. Country music seems to be discussed much more frequently in other music blogs, comments sections, and forums, and there’s still quite a lot of ignorance and scorn. It’s shocking really.
It usually comes down to stereotypes, politics, and mockery of the fan base. It’d be good for more folks, especially young folks, to just spend a little time with this doc series and learn something.
September 16, 2019 @ 2:34 pm
” milennials …they are way more likely to watch a long-form documentary on anything than follow a football or baseball season. ”
my experience with millennials has been somewhat similar , trigger . they will indeed watch a doc on something THEY are interested in ….( politics , nutrition/health etc….) as many have unplugged from commercial -riddled TV altogether… but I’m not sure how many millennials are interested in REAL COUNTRY music . as you say , the Burns doc can only help matters but to what extent remains to be seen . IF ( and that’s a big IF ) there was a significant YOUNG following for the roots of country then perhaps we’re looking at another ‘result’ . but since those roots NEVER find their way to mainstream even in the form of ‘oldies’ played from time to time the chances an urban-centric young demographic being aware of the roots much less engaged by this Burns doc may be slim at best . still , as I’ve argued in the past , the mandate now is to make sure this stuff is available and accessible in hopes that it WILL be inspirational as well as informative .
September 16, 2019 @ 10:06 am
I Hope the whole thing will be released in physical form, outside the U.S. as well.
Fat Freddy's Cat
September 16, 2019 @ 10:25 am
The PBS website is offering the series for sale, along with the book and soundtrack CDs.
September 17, 2019 @ 12:59 am
thank you, cool cat.
September 16, 2019 @ 10:30 am
I had to chuckle last night when the documentary stated that as “hillbilly” music began to enjoy its surge in popularity, Nashville became concerned that the music was too country and would reflect negatively on the city.
Some things never change I guess.
September 16, 2019 @ 1:02 pm
Me too! I laughed some things never change! Thought of a newer song, Ain’t Broken Down by Hank3!
September 16, 2019 @ 10:37 am
I liked it a lot, if for no other reason than seeing incredible photographs.
The word “evolve” keeps getting thrown around, as does the admiration for the music becoming an industry.
Lots of episodes to go. As a start, it’s promising.
September 16, 2019 @ 11:41 am
One slightly odd production decision to me was to refer to all the commentators as from their home state. It’s no big deal to just say ‘Dolly Parton Tennessee’ or ‘Merle Haggard California’ but for some of the lesser known people it could be confusing for less knowledgeable fans.
I mean why is the state any more relevant than calling them singer, songwriter, musician or historian?
September 17, 2019 @ 3:53 pm
Yes, I thought that was kind of strange as well. I noticed that when Emmylou Harris first appeared it said “Singer”, and not her State. In my opinion it should have said “Heaven” because if there are singing angels, certainly they must sound like her.
September 16, 2019 @ 12:48 pm
It was good to see Ralph Stanley again.
Also Rhiannon Giddens is just as knowledgeable in the history of the ballads of the Scots Irish and English as she is of the slave traditions and negro ballads, she even speaks Gaelic. If anyone would know, she would….of how the two traditions have intermingled and rubbed together.
And Ketch Secor doesn’t just know the history of roots music…he knows the deep social history of the people and times he sings about. I ran into him after an OCMS show in NC and talked about coming from a southern Appalachian family who once grew tobacco and had their farms flooded by the TVA. He said, “Then you know what we’re singing about.” His contribution to E1 just confirmed to me just how well he knows his subject.
E1 was a joy to watch, made me want to cry remembering a lot of good childhood times.
September 17, 2019 @ 8:31 am
This comment in RS took some of the bloom of Secor’s rose for me:
“I played [Lil Nas X’s] “Old Town Road” on Roy Acuff’s fiddle. I mean, what more proof than on the Grand Ole Opry do you need of country music?”
Just because you played it doesn’t make it country music. Joe Nichols covered “Baby Got Back” a few years ago, and no one would call it a country song.
This damn thing won’t go away – it’s not a country song. It’s just not.
September 17, 2019 @ 9:07 am
It’s all posturing because people don’t want to be called racist. It’s going to take people stepping up to make reasonable, articulate arguments for this to die down. And again, time will not be kind at all to Lil Nas X, “Old Town Road,” or the fervor behind it that is predicated on outright lies.
Robert's Country Blog
September 17, 2019 @ 1:20 pm
I know a lot of folks here won’t like it, but I maintain a playlist of “Hip Hop Meets Country” songs, and it does include this sort of song, and there’s more history to it than most realize. There were country and especially western-themed hip hop songs in 1980 that were popular/successful (and hip hop’s “big bang” was in 1979). The difference is that they weren’t trying to sell these things as “country music.” Country music has interacted with other types of music since early on, and western music has as well, and the difference in the interaction between country music
and urban music and the interaction between western music and urban music is related to the ways in which the urban coastal elites view the rural south (backwards hillbilly stereotypes) and the frontier west (heroic Hollywood cowboys). Anyway, I’ve rambled too long, but hopefully, I contributed positively to the conversation.
September 16, 2019 @ 12:51 pm
Great beginning to the series. Going to be behind on sleep this week.
September 16, 2019 @ 1:16 pm
I thought it was great and could easily have been twice as long, given that the period covered was roughly the late 19th century to 1933 (with references much further back). Another 30 minutes on the cultural ferment of Appalachia would have been warranted.
I really liked that Burns acknowledged the Mexican-American roots of the music and hope we see more about this in the next episode. Given the importance of San Antonio in the country music imagination it would make sense to focus a segment on the city, as well as early Tejano artists like Lydia Mendoza. I expect Burns to talk about Border Radio in the next segment as well, given all the time spent on discussing the role of technology in the first episode.
September 16, 2019 @ 2:21 pm
I thought the first episode was very good and the level of detail excellent. Looking forward to episode two. I suspect my only gripe about the series will be that it doesn’t stop short of Garth Brooks. But alas, how do you exclude the best selling artist in the history of the genre.
September 16, 2019 @ 3:50 pm
I was thinking the same thing. I don’t want to sit through all of these episodes, loving the actual history and heart of both the music and the people who make it, only for the end to turn into a Garth Brooks love fest.
Yes, he may have been the best selling, but I feel he did as much or more than anyone to kill that beating heart of country music and turn it into the nonsense we have on country radio today.
September 18, 2019 @ 11:08 am
He and Shania. And Kenny Chesney is the genesis of “bro-country” to me.
John R Baker
September 16, 2019 @ 3:11 pm
I think Wynton Marsalis being in this was a big mistake and wasted opportunity. He relied on that guy way to much in the Jazz documentary and here it was just completely out of place. There is validity to bringing in some people from outside but I would have much rather heard something like somebody from the blues world plumb the connections to country blues like Charley Patton more deeply. It’s pretty important in understanding Jimmy Rodgers and the guitar styles that came along later.
I loved the long sections on Jimmy Rodgers though. I suspect that this was the first time a lot of people heard of him and how important he is to country.
And I have to say the Carter family was a timely reminder of the absurdity of the situation with women in country.
September 16, 2019 @ 3:53 pm
I couldn’t agree more with your comment about the Carter Family. Country music, both instrumentally and vocally, would not be what it is without Sara and Maybelle Carter.
September 16, 2019 @ 4:01 pm
Any ideal where to watch this in Canada? The stream doesn’t work.
September 16, 2019 @ 4:04 pm
This program is wonderfully done. The Rub is just the beginning of my love affair with American Music. Im half back woods folk.
My mom was a snobby New Englander. She belittled ‘Hillbillys’ and their music.
Thankfully, our next door neighbors loved The Gran Ole Opery. They were from Nebraska. So, we saw country western at their home.
I loved Riders of the Purple Sage. Roy Rogers lived near by, in Chatsworth Ca. I grew up with Tumbling Tumble weeds rolling down the street.. I’ve always loved the Bakersfield beat, Nashville sound and Minny Pearl.
I’m really enjoying the program. Can’t wait to see the rest.
September 16, 2019 @ 4:59 pm
….and in one segment (Stephen Foster I guess) John Prine was singing “My Old Kentucky Home” in the background. Yes!!!!!
King Honky Of Crackershire
September 16, 2019 @ 7:06 pm
I enjoyed it, and I actually learned something I didn’t know. There have been posers in C(c)ountry music, even in the earliest days.
Those Nashville folks who Hay was dressing up in overalls to pretend they were hillbillies. Even back then, the suits were trying to dictate an image. Very interesting.
I was also surprised to learn that Nashville was such an uppity place, that they were embarrassed by C(c)ountry music. I guess I just assumed that back then, southern cities were as culturally country as the country.
Robert's Country Blog
September 16, 2019 @ 10:26 pm
Nashville has been called the “Athens of the South” since the 1800s, so it’s a city with a long-established culture of considering itself above the “uneducated rural masses.”
September 17, 2019 @ 7:54 am
One of the interviewees talked about that very thing, noting that they have an exact replica of the Parthenon.
Robert's Country Blog
September 17, 2019 @ 8:31 am
Yes, and they have a free concert series at the park there. Carrie Underwood’s CMT Awards performance was there in June. I am in Nashville on vacation, so I haven’t gotten to see the Burns documentary yet. In the last week, I’ve been to Americanafest, Marty Stuart at the CMHOF (which I chose over the Americana Awards at the same time), Dwight Yoakam at the Ryman, SIP Hope For Hope Town at the Ryman, and tonight the NSAI Awards at the Ryman.
King Honky Of Crackershire
September 17, 2019 @ 9:38 am
Yep. I watched it. And I already knew about the Athens thing, but I didn’t realize how seriously they took it.
September 16, 2019 @ 7:09 pm
Episode 2 had a lot to say about how rich Gene Autry got, how Sara Carter married that other fella, and how much Bob Wills drank. Maybe that’s a little unfair, but it’s pretty fawning about star power and wealth.
I was glad to hear honest appreciation of DeFord Bailey, Minnie Pearl, and Roy Acuff. A little bit about steel, not much. No mention of Junior Barnard as I recall.
September 17, 2019 @ 4:06 am
The Rub. Hamlet’s central problem, or spices added to the meat of the barbecue? Either way a fitting metaphor for the African-American inclusion/influence on country music. Love it.
I think what the series is missing is some of the bawdiness, some of the off-color stories. The companion piece we really need is ‘Mike Judge Presents: Country Music – Tales from the Packard.’
I never liked Bob Wills’ ah-has and such on the Playboys recordings. I saw that as stepping on the performers solos. I see that a little differently now, after episode 2. Good stuff.
September 17, 2019 @ 5:47 am
Missing some bawdiness and off color stories, I agree. We’ll have to see how he handles Spade Cooley.
September 17, 2019 @ 4:17 am
From episode 2…
“If somebody don’t like Wills, he’s immediately under suspicion with me.”
That’s f’n awesome.
September 17, 2019 @ 6:39 am
I haven’t seen the episode yet but do they really claim Jimmie Rodgers did blackface?
I have never seen a picture of him in blackface or read anything that presents any evidence that he did so. Of all his skit recordings like Jimmie visits the Carter Family, I have never heard one that sounded as if it was from a blackface perspective.
September 17, 2019 @ 7:53 am
I’ve read other accounts where he was a member of a minstrel group for a while; it was short lived, but appears to be the case.
September 17, 2019 @ 9:13 am
The episode shows a picture of Jimmie Rodgers in blackface. The companion book also has the picture. Jimmie Rodgers wore blackface.
September 17, 2019 @ 7:55 am
I’m on episode 4 and it’s just wonderful in every way
September 17, 2019 @ 6:26 pm
Ketch has been a huge influence on my deep dive into country music. His passion for old time music caused me to spend hours watching people play clawhammer banjo. He frequently covers Jimmie Rodgers in his OCMS shows and always finds an old tune here and there to fit in. It’s amazing the influence people can have on others just with some simple introductions.
September 18, 2019 @ 9:17 am
For $5 a month you can subscribe to PBS Passport. I had the whole series available the day it premiered. It also gives you access to a wide assortment of programs from their back catalog. I like that I can watch what I want when I want.
September 18, 2019 @ 9:13 pm
It was another place and another time but I thought the worst mistake Bristol ever made was to let Country music slips away to Nashville. I live near Bristol in Abingdon, home of the Barter Theatre and I’ve seen how good entertainment can last through the years.. I can only hope Bristol has a resurgence here and brings back some of it’s prosperity to our beautiful region. We have so much beauty and talent. Bless Ken Burns and his staff for his wonderful work. It doesn’t diminish our people. It only shows the genius of the peoples music.
September 24, 2019 @ 8:11 pm
I have one hour to go left in episode eight and I’ve not heard mention nor seen John Prine. Is he really not represented at all? If that’s the case, a very big misstep and a surprising one.
September 25, 2019 @ 8:50 am
I agree, a huge void for someone discovered by Kristofferson and revered by Dylan. The only possible reason maybe that John Prine’s style and genre didn’t quite fit the country music theme that Burns put forth. No doubt he is one of THE best song writers ever and this oversight was blatantly obvious to those who love his music.
October 2, 2019 @ 11:56 pm
They showed young John Prine in a group photo 38 minutes into episode 7, while talking about Guy Clark at the Exit In in Nashville. Kept waiting for Prine’s comeuppance but it never came. I don’t think Prine’s genre was any less country than what they showed Clark playing. Disappointing.
September 27, 2019 @ 5:23 pm
I loved this series.I got goosebumps when Roy Acuff came on the opry and cried my eyes out when Pasty’s plane crashed and Jean lost her husband. I grew up with a mother who changed her hair when Dolly did and I awoke in the middle of the night once to Hank Thompson in my living room. I know of almost all the performers and writers mentioned as part of my upbringing. My grandmother had 3 children in the camps in California before hitchhiking back home to Poteau Oklahoma with 3 small children. I can only wish my sister had lived to see this and how you represented Johnny Cash. She was his biggest fan. When you would show Merle Haggard I can only say I was thrilled. He is my hero. I was singing Swinging Doors as a two year old. Thank you for doing such a good job showing the history of our music.
January 7, 2020 @ 5:52 pm
Spade Cooley was ignored and he was every bit as big as Bob Wills. Murdered his 2nd wife, but why couldn’t he have been covered at least from a musical perspective? It’s like leaving Bill Cosby out of comedy. Shame about all of their stories, but they were influential and shouldn’t be ignored.
February 15, 2020 @ 3:09 am
Who did the commentary in the first episode?
April 4, 2020 @ 6:18 pm
hank snow was an important performer 1950 – 1975. Didn’t see him in any episodes.Why not ?
December 13, 2020 @ 12:33 pm
I loved this documentary. I do wish that Spade Cooley had been covered.