Country music performance in northern Nova Scotia : an occupational study of Art Fitt, vernacular craftsman

Mackay, John Wisdom (1995) Country music performance in northern Nova Scotia : an occupational study of Art Fitt, vernacular craftsman. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This study of musical performance and its context examines the local scenes in which it occurs. Drawing on materials from academic and popular sources as well as fieldwork and interviews, the claim is made that country music is not only a mass mediated phenomenon but also a highly meaningful form of located expression in the vernacular milieu of working class Pictou County, Nova Scotia. The reflexive ethnographic presentation in the study also uses biographical detail to suggest the dilemmas of being a native observer. -- Using the ballad and folksong study of W. Roy Mackenzie (1883-1957) as a starting point, the analysis points to ways in which contemporary country music inherits elements of earlier narrative song forms and shows how those forms take root in one place. In doing so, a distinction is made between the inclusive term country music and the categories within it which are meaningful to local residents and their musical taste communities: bluegrass, honky tonk, old-time, and country rock. Such categories are not genres in the usual sense, but together make a complex of musical canons. -- The focus is on one country music craftsman and his occupational folklife, his work world. Art Fitt's apprenticeship in a musical coal mining family and at house parties in Stellarton provided early skills which he later employed in professional bands across Canada. He now earns his livelihood as a one man band and running talent contests for amateur singers. These performances are held at taverns, lounges, clubs and Legions, mostly in Stellarton, Westville, and New Glasgow. His public performance is contrasted with his brother's more domestic performance style. -- The career of Art Fitt is shown to be substantially unlike that of famous stars. His knowledge of the cultural environment provides him with special skills which he employs to succeed in the business of performance. It is shown that his ties to his audience, and to the larger local community, condition his repertoire and make him an effective organic intellectual.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/911
Item ID: 911
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 225-255; Discography: leaves 257-259
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1995
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Nova Scotia--Pictou (County)
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Fitt, Art; Country music--Nova Scotia--Pictou County; Country musicians--Nova Scotia--Pictou County; Music--Nova Scotia--Pictou County--Performance; Popular music--Nova Scotia--Pictou County

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