Evans, David, ed.: Ramblin' On My Mind
Evans, David, ed. Ramblin' on My Mind: New Perspectives On The Blues
Published: 2008 University of Illinois Press, 430 pages
Ramblin' On My Mind is a collection of unrelated essays on the blues. Chronologically, the essays span almost a century, from Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff's essay on sheet music, vaudeville, and the commercial ascendancy of the blues to John Minton's description of the rise and continued popularity of zydeco in Houston. Geographically, the range is from Gerhard Kubik's exploration of possible Africanisms in the blues to Elliott Hurwitt's discussion of the relationship of W. C. Handy and Abbe Niles in New York City to several essays on Missippi blues.
Pros: The subject matter is varied enough that most readers should find at least several essays of interest. A few of the articles are outstanding, particularly those of Elliott Hurwitt (Abbe Niles) and Abbott and Seroff (sheet music, vaudeville, and early blues).
Cons: Although there is some organization to the essays - they're roughly chronological - the overall feel of the book is fairly random. A few of the essays really needed to be whipped into shape by the editor, as they're so filled with academic jargon as to be almost unreadable. One wishes that David Evans would try a rewrite of his essay on blues nicknames, as it features a plethora of information on an interesting subject, but, as written, it never quite seems to find a way to organize and present that information clearly.