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Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia

By By Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr

University of North Carolina Press, 384 pages, $34.99

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen, May 2015

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"Wayfaring Strangers" is an informative look at the musical history of the Appalachia region, which has its origins in Scotland and Ulster. Included is a foreword from Dolly Parton and a CD that includes 20 songs, including the likes of Pete Seeger and Dougie Maclean with songs that provide a companion to the coffee table collection.

As a physical offering, "Wayfaring Strangers" is a beautiful book. There is a blend of full color artwork and photos with black and white historical pieces. It is professionally compiled and looks like a high end textbook.

From an ethnomusicologist perspective, this text is a comprehensive study of the important history of the folk music that gave birth to country music as we know it today. The book covers the folk traditions of the old country and guides readers through the journey to America and the evolution of music in Appalachia. There are notable sections on the influence of African music, The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.

As a whole, "Wayfaring Strangers" is an excellent collection for readers interested in the history of American music, especially folk and country.