Radio Bristol Book Club: Meeting Jimmie Rodgers

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club! Each month, readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together to celebrate and explore one book inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage. We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 11:00am when we will dig deep into the feelings and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

September 8 is Jimmie Rodgers’ birthday, which influenced our book pick this month: Meeting Jimmie Rodgers: How America’s Original Roots Music Hero Changed the Pop Sounds of the Century by Barry Mazor. This fascinating book explores the deep legacy of Rodgers, tracing the path of his career and examining the succcess of his music and how it manifested in his various performance personas – for example as “The Singing Brakeman” and “The Blue Yodeler,” the working musical cowboy and the suave ladies’ man. From his first recordings at the 1927 Bristol Sessions to his rapid and assured rise to stardom, Rodgers brought emotional clarity and a unique sense of narrative drama to every song he performed. His wistful singing, falsetto yodels, bold flat-picking guitar style, and sometimes censorable themes – sex, crime, and other edgy topics – set him apart from most of his contemporaries and made him one of the most influential musicians in country music, and beyond.

The cover of Mazor's book has a photograph of Jimmie Rodgers holding his guitar and wearing a stetson-style hat, along with the book title.
The cover of Barry Mazor’s Meeting Jimmie Rodgers.

Barry Mazor is a longtime music, media, and business journalist. He has been writing about country and roots music for the Wall Street Journal  since 2003 and is the host of the “Roots Now” music and artist interview show on Acme Radio Live out of Nashville, which streams weekly. He is the author of Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music and Connie Smith: Just for What I Am, and the former senior editor and columnist for No Depression magazine. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including American Songwriter, the Nashville Scene, the Village Voice, and the Washington Post. Both Meeting Jimmie Rodgers and Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music won Belmont University’s annual “Best Book on Country Music” award.

Barry Mazor stands at a podium in a darkened theater with a screen behind him that shows several pictures of different country music musicians and stars.
Barry Mazor spoke at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in 2017 to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1927 Bristol Sessions.
© Birthplace of Country Music

Be sure to tune in on Thursday, September 24 at 11:00am to hear the book club discussion about Meeting Jimmie Rodgers! You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. And be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. We look forward to sharing our thoughts on this wonderful musical journey!

Looking ahead: Our book pick for October is Hiding Ezra by Rita Sims Quillen, which we’ll be discussing on Thursday, October 22. Happy reading!

Head Curator at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum

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