The Charlie Poole Backstory

Last night as I was driving home I heard an NPR story about a new album by Loudon Wainwright III called High Wide & Handsome: A Tribute to Charlie Poole. Poole was among those early-twentieth-century musicians from Piedmont North Carolina mill villages whose hillbilly music and tunes from the textile mills helped shape what we now call country music. Wainwright discussed his 2-disc tribute album on Fresh Air back in August. Here’s a video about the making of the Charlie Poole project:

We’ve already got an appreciation for this banjo legend here at UNC Press. Charlie Poole’s image graces the cover of Patrick Huber’s award-winning book Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South. According to Huber, no group contributed more to the commercialization of early country music than southern factory workers. He 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 Poole, Fiddlin’ John Carson, Dave McCarn, and the Dixon Brothers.

If you pick up a copy of Wainwright’s tribute album and find your toe tappin’, you might like to pick up Linthead Stomp, too, and learn about the milltown music scene that spawned the legendary Charlie Poole.