Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South / Edition 1

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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. Huber explores the origins and development of this music in the Piedmont's mill villages and offers vivid portraits of a colorful cast of Piedmont millhand musicians, including Fiddlin' John Carson, Charlie Poole, Dave McCarn, and the Dixon Brothers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Huber deftly examines a remarkable assemblage of unpublished autobiographies, interviews, and lyrics written by Piedmont textile workers."—Louisiana History

"Compelling. . . . An excellent first foray into an important but often overlooked chapter in the history of American popular music."—Studies in American Culture

"[A] splendid book . . . one of its principle achievements, due to its author's subtle but insistent writing, is to encourage the seeking out of [the performers'] work. Huber provides a very useful discography, rightly flagging up the sterling work done by labels such as Document, County and Bear Family in the dissemination of early country music recordings."—Journal of Popular Music

"Well-researched and truly enlightening. . . . Huber's biographical approach makes for fast-paced, enjoyable reading, and scholars of country music and southern culture will immediately recognize the importance of this work."—Technology and Culture

"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

"Paints a picture of a vibrant time in southern piedmont. . . . Should appeal to those interested in early country music."—Journal of Southern History

"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

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

"Provides the industrial context for one of the more important centers of early country [music]. . . . Recommended for collectors of pre-1940 country music, and for readers interested in the southern industry, religion, and labor activism."—ARSC Journal

"Based on an interdisciplinary approach that utilizes perspectives prominent in history, sociology, literary criticism, folklore, and popular music scholarship, Linthead Stomp provides a sensitive and invaluable assessment of working-class adaptation to social change."—Georgia Historical Quarterly
"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

"In this groundbreaking study of the derivation of hillbilly music . . . Huber comprehensively explores the working-class origins and early development of the idiom. . . . Four colorful biographical chapters . . . form the meat of the book. . . . A fascinating glimpse into some hitherto unexplored territory."—Sing Out!

"A new, canny take on Old, Weird America, this colorful, contrarian book does much to dispel a spate of antediluvian tropes, musical and otherwise."—The Atlantic Monthly

"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

"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'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

"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

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807832257
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 10/20/2008
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 440
  • Sales rank: 807,131
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.40 (d)

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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Table of Contents


1 King of the Mountaineer Musicians: Fiddlin' John Carson
2 Rough and Rowdy Ways: Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers
3 Cain't Make a Living at a Cotton Mill: Dave McCarn
4 A Blessing to People: The Dixon Brothers, Howard and Dorsey
Appendix A. Directory of Southern Textile Workers Who Made Hillbilly Recordings, 1923-1942
Appendix B. Discography of Southern Textile Workers' Commercial Recordings, 1923-1942, Reissued on CD

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