The Roots of Rock, from Cardiff to Mississippi and Back
Peter Finch follows the trail of twentieth century popular music from a 1950s valve radio playing in a suburban Cardiff terrace to the reality of the music among the bars of Ireland, the skyscrapers of New York, the plains of Tennessee, the flatlands of Mississippi and the mountains of North Carolina. The Roots of Rock from Cardiff to Mississippi and Back mixes musical autobiography with an exploration of the physical places from which this music comes. It is a demonstration of the power of music to create a world for the listener that is simultaneously of and beyond the place in which it is heard. It also considers how music has changed during this time, from the culture-shaping (revolutionising) 50s and 60s to the present day, where it has evolved from the hard black vinyl of albums to the invisible digital mp3 file waiting to be summoned by mouse click.
Along the way Finch gives us sharp-eyed accounts of gigs from Champion Jack Dupree to the Garth Mountain Boys, muses on the importance of the Dansette record player, ponders why Elvis never came to Wales (except multiply in Porthcawl’s legendary Elvis Festival), visits musical shrines and theme parks – Dollywood, Grand Ole Opry, Graceland, Stax, rides along with singing cowboys and recalls his attempt to form a band, The Blueswailers. Add in music in Ireland and Wales (and in Welsh), the Bible Belt, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Etta James, Ray Charles, Bert Jansch, Taylor Swift, Alan Stivell, Chet Atkins, the Appalachian Mountains and Pigeon Forge and Finch’s world of music is as broad as the last six decades allows.
Each chapter is accompanied by a multi-track play list to help the reader have the full flavour of what Finch’s musical experiences and bring alive the many sharp witted stories and thoughtful cultural connections. The result is an entertaining, informative book from which the reader will learn much and hear more.