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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates the origins, connotations, and uses of “old-time” and related terms in country music, with an emphasis on the hillbilly era of the 1920s and 1930s, the postwar string band revival, and the field of country music scholarship. Use of “old-time” as an appellation for prewar country is shown to have derived from the marketing of printed musical collections in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and employed by the marketers of early commercial country music. During the postwar revival, scholars and taste-making musicians used “old-time” to establish a canon of artists, styles, and repertories that has solidified even more in the twenty-first century, as personal connections to the precommercial era of folk music become rare. There is now a positivistic documentation of early commercial country music and sharing of that information with the community of revivalist musicians through the publication of regional studies and biographies.

Keywords: old-time, hillbilly, nostalgia, folklore, string band, revival, Mike Seeger, John Cohen, Archie Green, Tony Russell

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