Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South

Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South

by Patrick Huber
     
 

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Contrary to popular belief, the roots of American country music do not lie solely on southern farms or in mountain hollows. Rather, much of this music recorded before World War II emerged from the bustling cities and towns of the Piedmont South. No group contributed more to the commercialization of early country music than southern factory workers. In Linthead

Overview

Contrary to popular belief, the roots of American country music do not lie solely on southern farms or in mountain hollows. Rather, much of this music recorded before World War II emerged from the bustling cities and towns of the Piedmont South. No group contributed more to the commercialization of early country music than southern factory workers. In Linthead Stomp, Patrick Huber explores the origins and development of this music in the Piedmont's mill villages.

Huber offers vivid portraits of a colorful cast of Piedmont millhand musicians, including Fiddlin' John Carson, Charlie Poole, Dave McCarn, and the Dixon Brothers, and considers the impact that urban living, industrial work, and mass culture had on their lives and music. Drawing on a broad range of sources, including rare 78-rpm recordings and unpublished interviews, Huber reveals how the country music recorded between 1922 and 1942 was just as modern as the jazz music of the same era. Linthead Stomp celebrates the Piedmont millhand fiddlers, guitarists, and banjo pickers who combined the collective memories of the rural countryside with the upheavals of urban-industrial life to create a distinctive American music that spoke to the changing realities of the twentieth-century South.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A very well researched and written history. . . . The first book-length study of the musical culture of Southern millhands. . . . A valuable addition to America's story of Country Music.— BC: Blogcritics Books

For lovers of music and its history—especially our homegrown Southern sound—the more we know, the more we want to know. . . . An enthralling tuneful journey into the birth and influence of a heretofore undervalued contribution to the genre. Guaranteed to set readers' toes tapping and then tramping out to track down the recordings included in the Linthead Stomp discography.—Tennessee Advocate

A careful exploration of the significance of regional variations in the music. . . . A remarkable and helpful summary.—The Journal of American History

With respect and passion, Huber puts . . . pioneering artists in well-deserved perspective, gracefully illuminating the birth of an American art form.—Publishers Weekly, web exclusive starred review

Well-researched, carefully argued, and beautifully written. . . . An impressive contribution to our understanding that country music was not born in some pristine corner of America, untouched by the winds of change. . . . A splendid account of [country music's] development in the vital crucible of the Piedmont South.—American Historical Review

"Huber's reverential and enlightening descriptions of country music's pioneers leave readers yearning for their actual recordings. Fortunately, an appended discography and directory of other early hillbilly musicians direct readers to more foot-stomping tunes..—Our State

A fascinating history of Piedmont textile workers and their role in the development of country music. . . . Opens a window on a new view of country music. Recommended.—Choice

Huber is to be commended for his passionate, detailed research in a rarely explored area of American music history. . . . Well-conceived narrative and vivid portrayals. . . . Anyone interested in the roots of modern American popular music will find this book to be a valuable addition to their personal library.—South Carolina Historical Magazine

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Historian Huber may surprise music fans by tracing the roots of country music and some of the most popular pre-WWII American sounds to city slickers, rather than hayseeds, living in the boomtowns of the American South's Piedmont region. At the turn of the century, textile companies dominated the South, employing thousands and, in some cases, effectively running the small cities that sprang up around them-complete with music programs for workers. What was known derisively as "hillbilly music" found its legs and growing popularity in these mill towns, and most "old time" musicians lived and recorded in cities like Atlanta, Charlotte and Greensboro. Huber traces the growth of the sound through four artists who personified it: Fiddlin' John Carson, a marginally talented but media-savvy violinist; hard-drinking banjo player Charlie Poole; guitarist Dave McCarn, whose luckily-recorded track "Cotton Mill Colic" made his legacy; and the Dixon Brothers, who devoted their songs to tragedy and the decline of Christian morals. Not surprisingly, happy endings are few; bad business deals, alcohol and drug addiction, obscurity and poverty threaten practically all involved. With respect and passion, Huber puts these pioneering artists in well-deserved perspective, gracefully illuminating the birth of an American art form.
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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781469621913
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
12/01/2014
Pages:
440
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Patrick Huber has uncovered a hitherto unexplored influence on the development of early country music: southern textile mill workers. He weaves the multiple threads of his research—in history, sociology, discography, and genealogy—into an absorbing narrative and a persuasive argument.—Tony Russell, author of Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost

Meet the Author

Patrick Huber is professor of history at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and the author or editor of five books, including The Hank Williams Reader.

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