While the Goose Island Ramblers are a remarkable group, they are entirely representative of the many bands who, from the 1920s through the 90s, have synthesized an array of "foreign," "American," folk, popular, and hillbilly musical strains to entertain rural, small town, working class audiences throughout the Midwest. Based on more than twenty years of field research, this study of the Goose Island Ramblers alters our perception of what American folk music really is. The music of the Ramblers - decidedly upper Midwest, multicultural, and inescapably American - argues for a most inclusive, fluid notion of American folk music, one that exchanges ethnic hierarchy for egalitarianism, that stresses process over pedigree, and that emphasizes the pluralism of American musical culture. Rootsy, constantly evolving, and wildly eclectic, the polkabilly music of the Ramblers constitutes the American folk music norm, redefining in the process our understanding of American folk traditions.

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