Neil V. Rosenberg | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Neil V. Rosenberg

Neil V. (Vandraegen) Rosenberg. Folklorist, teacher, b Seattle, Wash, 21 Mar 1939; BA history (Oberlin College) 1961, MA folklore (Indiana) 1964, PH D folklore and history (Indiana) 1970.

Rosenberg, Neil V.

Neil V. (Vandraegen) Rosenberg. Folklorist, teacher, b Seattle, Wash, 21 Mar 1939; BA history (Oberlin College) 1961, MA folklore (Indiana) 1964, PH D folklore and history (Indiana) 1970. Before and during his years at university he played banjo, mandolin, and other fretted instruments in folk or bluegrass groups in California (Redwood Canyon Ramblers 1958-60, 1963), Bloomington, Ind (Pigeon Hill Boys 1962-7), and Bean Blossom, Ind (Bill Monroe's Brown County Jamboree 1963-8), and participated in festivals in Roanoke, Va, in 1966, and Bean Blossom in 1967 and 1968.

Rosenberg moved to Canada in 1968 to join the department of folklore at Memorial U, St John's, Nfld; he was acting head 1971-2 and1978-9, head pro tem1973-4 and 1975-6, and director of graduate administration 1983-4. After serving 1968-76 as archivist in the university's Folklore and Language Archive he was its director 1976-90. In St John's, Rosenberg played banjo, guitar, and mandolin 1970-2 with Sneed Hearn and the Smiling Liberators and in 1972 joined another group, the Crooked Stovepipe. He also performed 1967-76 with Peter Aceves (Narváez) and in the Atlantic provinces with George Hector, John Lacey and Gordon Quinton, Vic Mullen, the Phillips Brothers, and Shelly Posen.

Rosenberg has researched both the traditional folk music and the pop music of North America; his particular interest has been the relationship between the two. He has become known as an authority on bluegrass. He has written and edited several books and many articles and reviews (published in Ethnomusicology, Bluegrass Unlimited, the Journal of American Folklore, and the JEMF Quarterly, among others) and has contributed to the New Grove Dictionary and to EMC. He was associate editor of the CFMJ 1979-82 and in 1990 became recorded sound reviews editor of the JAF. By 1990 he had edited and annotated 24 LPs of bluegrass for RCA, Folkways, Rounder, and other labels. Rosenberg has given many public lectures, seminars, and workshops in Canada and the USA. He served 1979-80 as a director of the CFMS (CSMT) and as president of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada. In 1988 he became an advisor to the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Selected Writings

- with Casey, George J., and Wareham, Wilfrid W. 'Repertoire categorization and performer-audience relationships: some Newfoundland examples,' Ethnomusicology, vol 16, Sep 1972

Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys: An Illustrated Discography (Nashville 1974)

Country Music in the Maritimes: Two Studies, Memorial U reprint series (St John's 1976)

'Studying country music and contemporary folk music traditions in the Maritimes: theory, techniques and the archivist,' Phonographic Bulletin, 14, May 1976

Folklore and Oral History (St John's 1978)

'Goodtime Charlie and the Bricklin: a satirical song in context,' J of the Canadian Oral History Association, vol 3, no. 1, 1978

'A preliminary bibliography of Canadian old time instrumental music books,' CFMJ, vol 8, 1980

'The folklorist and the phonograph record: an introduction to analytic discography,' Canadian Folklore Canadien, vol 3, 1981

'They started calling it bluegrass,' J of Country Music, vol 10, no. 3, 1985

Bluegrass: A History (Urbana, Ill 1985)

'Ethnicity and class: black country musicians in the Maritimes,' J of Canadian Studies, vol 23, Spring/Summer 1988

'Canadian bluegrass albums: a preliminary list,' Bluegrass Canada Magazine, (part 1, A-M) vol 1, Jan/Feb 1990; (part 2, M-Z) vol 1, Mar/Apr 1990