Friday, July 21, 2017

Bluegrass: Funnier Than It Sounds by Rick Cornish - Book Review



Rick Cornish is bluegrass music's resident cartoonist. For years he has posted his cartoons on the California Bluegrass Association website and in Bluegrass Today, the go-to news source for bluegrass music. Now he has published a collection, which will become a treasured bathroom or tabletop piece for those of us who like a laugh with our bluegrass music.  Funnier Than It Sounds, illustrated by Donna Miklika and edited by Nanci Bolas, is written from the perspective of someone who loves bluegrass, knows its foibles and conflicts, and looks at it with gentle good humor. Much like Rick Cornish himself, who doesn't need to shout when he can speak quietly while keeping his pen sharp, the cartoons point in humor-filled ways to how bluegrass affects relationships, careers, and daily lives.


Often the bluegrass community may take itself and its music a bit too seriously. We worry about being seen as hillbilly music with hay bales sitting around the stage having adherents with a jug of moonshine sitting beside them. We long for serious consideration as serious music. And, of course, the stereotype and the scholarship are both elements of the music we love. So are the arguments about what constitutes bluegrass music. Nevertheless, what brings bluegrass people together, making them into a large, cohesive, and, sometime, argumentative community is their love of toe tapping music growing from Appalachia and reaching out to the world. Bluegrass continues as a music played by some of the best musicians in the world while it remains accessible enough to be played, sung, and enjoyed by those picking up their instruments for almost the first time.


Rick Cornish, before and after a career in educational planning and as a software entrepreneur, has always been a writer and humorist, as well as a bluegrass picker and volunteer for the California Bluegrass Association. He has written and published a collection of short stories and is working on another. He began cartooning when a friend challenged him to pen thirty cartoons in a month, and he realized that cartoons were simply extremely short short stories. He's been more than ably assisted by illustrator Donna Miklika and editor Nanci Bolas.

Rick Cornish


Many of these cartoons were first published in Bluegrass Today and on the California Bluegrass Association web site, for which I thank them, since their publication means I don't have to cut the pages out of my copy of this book to post a few of them. Bluegrass: Funnier Than It Sounds by Rick Cornish with illustrations by Donna Miklica and edited by Nanci Bolas is available from Amazon.com for $14.99. That works out to about 1¢ per smile/giggle/laugh. I was sent a copy of the book by the author and wrote a blurb for it.



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