America's Music BLUEGRASS
a history of bluegrass music in the words of its pioneers

by Barry Willis
Self-Published in 1998 by Pine Valley Music

Book Info

Table of Contents


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Some have called this huge book "The Bible of Bluegrass"

"Must read for anyone interested in learning more about this exciting music"

"A great gift for any music lover"

"Read this book and you'll love the music more"

"Exceeded my expectations"

"A labor of love"

"Factual and accurate"

More Reviews

"Most exhausting compilation of information about the history and personalities
of bluegrass music ever achieved."

Barry Willis
Published by Pine Valley Music



Colossal contribution to bluegrass

Truly a Labor of Love

Some have called this
huge book the
"Bible of Bluegrass Music

Others have said
"it's the best book
on America's music"

Must reading for
bluegrass musicians, fans and all music historians

Great gift for any music or bluegrass lover

Twelve years in the making


The book is out of print and completely sold out. You may be able to obtain a used copy. It is also available in most libraries.

Look for our new project coming out soon, which puts the highly researched material to life in an interactive media presentation.
It will include audio, video interviews and more photos.

About Barry Willis

I became interested in bluegrass music after listening to country music stations back in the sixties. The music on the radio was okay, but I’d always tune into the station right at the end of the hour before the news when they’d play an upbeat instrumental. Country and western, as you know, has very few of its own instrumentals, so what I listened for were the bluegrass instrumentals. They were uplifting and exciting. I really didn’t know what they were at the time, but I knew I liked them.

I moved around with my family and didn’t come across bluegrass again until after the military and in college in 1973. I bought a Conquerer banjo (it was very pretty) and asked Jack Flippin (near Sherman, Texas) to show me a few things. I bought the Scruggs banjo book, learned a few tunes, bought the "Foggy Mountain Banjo" LP, and was on my way to being hooked.

My other passion is flying. I’ve been an airplane pilot since 1965, professionally since 1974. After stints of flight instruction, charter, Alaskan bush flying, scheduled night freight and commuter airlines, I finally got on with United Airlines as a pilot, where I am a captain today.

I started Folk Music Unlimited in 1982 to promote folk and bluegrass groups in Oregon for a while. I had a syndicated radio show, "Barry’s Bluegrass Show," on two stations and actually made money at it. This ended in 1985.

In late 1985, I read The Big Book of Bluegrass. It filled me with questions about bluegrass and how I could apply what I learned about bluegrass to my radio show, should I ever decide to start another (I never did). A book or pamphlet which started out to be just a deejay helper evolved into what you have in your hands—talk about overkill; I just found it impossible to quit in my search for the truth and in an effort to be as complete as possible. Bluegrass radio show host Wayne Rice later published a booklet just like the one that got me going in the first place. I don’t know how he was able to be so brief. I couldn’t do it. I guess one of the reasons it grew to such length is because I let the artists add to it and change it however they wanted, with the presumption that this was their story—not mine. I wanted to merely act as a vehicle for them to bring their story to you.

The final stages of the production of this book began in 1994 when I solicited the help of Dick Weissman to help me put all these two hundred or so biographies into some sort of cohesive and interesting format. We worked for some time and came up with its existing form and with the decision that I should self-publish; I did.


We are the author and the publisher.
Email with any questions, concerns or special requests.


Thank you for your interest.
Jan and Barry Willis

Email us

Jan and Barry Willis
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
(808) 325-0321

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Copyright 1997
Last modified: 08/08/09