Mill Towns and the Birth of American Music

You are invited to explore the musical history of our country during a one-day conference titled Mill Towns and the Birth of American Music on Thursday, April 11, at WinMock at Kinderton in Bermuda Run, North Carolina. The conference and an evening concert will follow the thread of musical influences and traditions that were born out of mill and factory towns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

During this period, migrants came from across the countryside to the growing cities and towns in search of work in factories and textile mills. These newcomers included musicians who introduced each other to the rhythms, techniques, and musical styles they played. At the same time, the business of music was taking off with the burgeoning recording industry, the expanding reach of radio, and an economic incentive for writing original songs. The combination of these forces led to the creation of new musical forms which spread throughout the country.

The conference will feature musicians, songwriters, authors, scholars, and others interested in how cultural and economic forces helped shape popular music. New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash, who wrote The Last Ballad, will be the keynote speaker and Patrick Huber, author of Linthead Stomp, will also be presenting.

The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast and ends at 5 p.m. A concert follows the conference at 7:30 p.m. in Winston-Salem, and will feature Ralph Berrier Jr., Sarah Bryan, Bob Carlin, Hunter Holmes, Kinney Rorrer, Lightin’ Wells, Tony Williamson, and others.

Registration for the conference, which includes breakfast, lunch, panel discussions, breakout sessions, the keynote address, admission to the evening concert, and a copy of The Last Ballad is $130. Cost to attend the lunchtime keynote address only is $50. Preregistration is required for both. Concert tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.

Mill Towns and the Birth of American Music is made possible with support from Come Hear NC, a campaign celebrating North Carolina’s rich musical heritage. Learn more at Additional sponsors include the National Endowment for the Arts, National Council for the Traditional Arts, the North Carolina Folklife Institute, The Old-Time Herald, and Bookmarks.