By Gerald Haslam with Alexandra Haslam Russell and Richard Chon

University of California Press 34.95 380 pages

Most country music fans regard Nashville as the only significant source for country music. Author, Gerald Haslam details the history of country music in California, especially the under-rated Bakersfield sound of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. He discusses venues, artists, songwriters, promoters, and record companies, and he reels off a number of interesting and amusing stories about the Bakersfield scene. He also spends some less than effective time covering the Los Angeles country music and country rock scene, and such artists as The Long Ryders, The Byrds, and Dwight Yoakam.

As often true of historical surveys, although the author does weave some good stories and memorable moments into the history, there is something of a mind-numbing quality about this endless list of folks. There is also not quite enough discussion of why such artists as The Judds inevitably ended up in Nashville. It is good to see such artists as The Maddox Brothers and Rose covered in some detail, as well as some thoughtful discussion about Ken Nelson, a record producer for Capitol Records.

This book is a re-print of a 1999 book, and unfortunately contains no updates. I subtracted one star because although this is a university press, this book appears not to have been copy-edited. There are typos, misspellings, and unwelcome spaces between words that are so prevalent at times it is difficult to follow the text. We can only hope that this does not represent the future of university press publishing.

Reviewed By Dick Weissman

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