‘Black Cowboys’ and ‘The Best Country Blues You’ve Never Heard’ Chart New Trails through Old-Time Music

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I spent a goodly portion of 2008 writing my way out of a rabbit hole.

We all know the feeling: a random Google search or YouTube video turns into a never-ending chase down some particularly arcane path, resulting in some momentary expertise about whatever was down that path, possible membership in an equally arcane Facebook community, and lost sleep.

My excursion was a bit more pronounced, having played itself out on these pages over the course of a year. It began as something of a trend piece on current black bands investigating long-past strains of black music. But the digging that piece prompted, and the releases of new scholarshipseemingly timed to keep me ensconced in my excavations, took me back nearly a century before I could find a resting point. It wasn’t really a resting point as much as it was a surrender; if I’d really wanted to I could have kept drilling and weaving my way down any number of forgotten tributaries some more (and in some respects, I’ve done exactlythat).

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