Kent Gustavson, award-winning author, was born immersed in a rich musical heritage. As the son of peaceniks, he grew up with family sing-alongs. From Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan, he darted to classical, jazz, and avant-garde jazz, before circling back to the Greenwich Village folk canon and tracing that music back. In singer-guitarist Doc Watson, Gustavson found a treasure of American music.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based author is uniquely qualified to write a book that merges myth, musicology, and American history. He holds a PhD in classical composition from Stony Brook University in New York, where he taught leadership, writing, literature, music, and German for ten years. He’s an active musician with 14 critically acclaimed albums, and his music has been featured on National Public Radio’s All Songs Considered. He also hosts a radio show, Sound Authors, where he has interviewed hundreds of award-winning authors and musicians.
His biography of Watson, Blind But Now I See (Sumach-Red Books), was written over 6 years, culled from meticulous archival research and well over a hundred interviews.
Gustavson’s congenial but probingly insightful interview skills help piece together a powerful and honest character mosaic. His vibrant, erudite, and enthusiastic prose demystifies Watson’s astounding musicality and dissects the paradoxes and complexities of the man with bold sensitivity.
I stumbled across a copy of The Watson Family by Folkways records. Watson’s voice was so rock-solid in those family hymns that I still sing the bass part today, because it’s stronger in my mind than the melody! He pointed me towards the blues, early rock and roll, traditional Appalachian fiddle music, and balladry. He literally started a brush fire in my musical mind. – Kent Gustavson
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