Today I talked to Paul O. Jenkins about his book Bluegrass Ambassadors: The McLain Family Band in Appalachia and the World (West Virginia UP, 2020). This episode covers a band that defies expectations. Coming from Hindman, Kentucky, this band formed in 1968 served as ambassadors of U.S. culture in over 60 countries. They were also fairly unique in being an intergenerational band and by having female band members who were both singers and musicians. roles beyond being singers to be musicians as well. The episode explores how bluegrass music varies from country music, and how musically inventive the group was. Finally, comparisons to the Beatles close out the episode.
Paul O. Jenkins is the University Librarian at Franklin Pierce University. A music lover since childhood, he has written books and articles on numerous musicians, including Richard Dyer-Bennet, the McLain Family Band, and the Beatles.