Linthead Stomp

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

PATRICK HUBER
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 440
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9780807886786_huber
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  • Book Info
    Linthead Stomp
    Book Description:

    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. InLinthead 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 Drawing on a broad range of sources, including rare 78-rpm recordings and unpublished interviews, Huber reveals how the country music recorded between 1922 and 1942 was just as modern as the jazz music of the same era.Linthead Stompcelebrates 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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0621-7
    Subjects: Music, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-42)

    On August 9, 1927, theCharlotte Observerboasted of the Victor Talking Machine Company’s upcoming field-recording session in a front-page story headlined “Records Made in Charlotte to Perpetuate Mountain Ballads.” “Mountaineer musicians of western North Carolina who know little of cities except by legend and who play by native instinct will come to Charlotte today to perpetuate their art for an invisible audience of hundreds of thousands of people,” the newspaper reported. “They will make records for the Victor Talking Machine company for distribution in a dozen nations, it was declared yesterday by Ralph S. Peer, scout for the company....

  5. 1 KING OF THE MOUNTAINEER MUSICIANS: FIDDLIN’ JOHN CARSON
    (pp. 43-102)

    In 1923, a middle-aged former textile weaver nicknamed “Fiddlin’ John” Carson unexpectedly helped to launch a new genre of American popular music at an experimental recording session in downtown Atlanta. There, inside a vacant loft converted into a makeshift recording studio in mid-June, he recorded two selections for the OKeh label—“The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane” and “The Old Hen Cackled and the Rooster’s Going to Crow.” The producer of the session, OKeh A & R (artist and repertoire) man Ralph S. Peer, of New York City, was less than thrilled with Carson’s performance. Carson’s fiddling was...

  6. 2 ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS: CHARLIE POOLE AND THE NORTH CAROLINA RAMBLERS
    (pp. 103-161)

    As early as 1924, even before he appeared on radio or records, the hard-drinking textile millhand Charlie Poole was already broadcasting his high-spirited, percussive dance music throughout the mountains of southwestern Virginia. Besides performing for paying audiences at formal stage shows, the renowned five-string banjoist and his brother-in-law, fiddler Posey Rorer, often entertained in private homes for parties and dances around Franklin County, Virginia, where Rorer had been born and raised. Sometimes the duo “broadcast” using their host’s hand-crank telephone, thereby sharing their music, via the telephone party line, with avid listeners in the community. During the mid-to late 1920s,...

  7. 3 CAIN’T MAKE A LIVING AT A COTTON MILL: DAVE McCARN
    (pp. 162-215)

    In May 1930, Dave McCarn found himself in Memphis, Tennessee, six hundred miles from home and nearly flat broke. When the onset of the Great Depression threw him out of work, McCarn, a twenty-five-year-old Gastonia, North Carolina, millhand, and his fourteen-year-old brother, Homer, joined tens of thousands of other unemployed workers wandering across the country in a desperate search for jobs. Hoboing out west, the McCarn brothers hopped freight trains and thumbed rides, slept in city parks, and picked up odd jobs wherever they could find them. But after several weeks, with opportunities for work becoming ever scarcer and their...

  8. 4 A BLESSING TO PEOPLE: THE DIXON BROTHERS, HOWARD AND DORSEY
    (pp. 216-274)

    Carolina textile singer and songwriter Dorsey Dixon was never supposed to live. At birth, he was a puny, oxygen-starved baby weighing only three pounds, what in the vernacular of the day was called a “blue baby.” “I heard [my parents] tell friends and neighbors many times that I was a blue baby. Which I did not understand,” Dixon later explained in one of his autobiographical writings. “But I have learned that such babies requared the greatest of care by doctors and nerses. and was right up next to imposible to keep one of them from slipping out from the living....

  9. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 275-282)

    Collectively, oral histories, labor histories, sociological studies, journalistic exposés, photographs, and even phonograph records reveal beyond any reasonable doubt that throughout the late nineteenth century and much of the first half of the twentieth century the lives of ordinary Piedmont textile workers were riddled with poverty, hunger, hardship, disease, and, in some cases, despair. Before the passage of the New Deal’s National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933, these workers, disparagingly called “lintheads” or “factory trash” by townspeople and farmers alike, operated clattering weaving looms and spinning frames for ten or eleven hours a day, five days a week, plus a...

  10. APPENDIX A. Directory of Southern Textile Workers Who Made Hillbilly Recordings, 1923–1942
    (pp. 283-300)
  11. APPENDIX B. Discography of Southern Textile Workers’ Commercial Recordings, 1923–1942, Reissued on CD
    (pp. 301-306)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 307-364)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 365-392)
  14. DISCOGRAPHY
    (pp. 393-398)
  15. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 399-402)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 403-416)