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LEGENDS OF COUNTRY GUITAR featuring Chet Atkins, Merle Travis,

Doc Watson & Mose Rager by Cary Ginell

In 1894 Sears-Roebuck began offering several guitar models in its mail order catalogue for the first time. Up until then, the banjo and fiddle had been the favored folk instruments among rural Americans. But with new traditions developing from a variety of sources: Mexican music from the southwest, ragtime from southern Blacks and the romantic, sweeping sounds of Hawaiian guitars, the guitar soon enveloped the United States, with styles and stylists established in every region.

In country music, white musicians did not start playing the guitar with any regularity until the early 1920s. In joining the fiddle and banjo in forming the modern country string band, the guitar quickly became an intricate part of American culture. Early stylists ranged from the simple rhythm accompaniment of cowboy singers from the southwestern plains to the intricate fingerpicking of musicians in the eastern mountains.

Mose Rager is acknowledged as being one of the founding fathers of the Kentucky-born style known as the “Muhlenberg Sound.” Rhythmic and lively, Rager’s sound was a direct predecessor to that of his disciple, Merle Travis, whose own adaptation of the style became identified as

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Chet Atkins & Merle ravis

Photo courtesy of Chet Atkins

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