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date: 23 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that country music should be examined first and foremost as social practice—as a driver of community expression and social capital through music, words, and dance. While country music functions in a multitude of ways, from narrative storytelling to commercial product and points in between, the commercial sphere of country music has been exhaustively examined. Scholarly inquiry into country music, rooted in the folk revival of the mid-twentieth century and significantly influenced by collectors (and collections) of commercial country music, has maintained a southern, commercial focus for much of the past half-century. As such, scholarly and popular understanding of what, where, and who country music springs from has ignored significant regional vernacular forms and uses of country music. Ethnographic inquiry has made it possible to tell the story country music culture and traditions. Murphy illustrates his argument with examples from New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Atlantic Canada.

Keywords: country music, New England, bluegrass, country music scholarship, country music ethnography, social practice, people’s music, cultural value

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