From the Barn to the Bowery and Back Again: Musical Routes in Rural Ohio, 1800-1929

Howard Sacks

Abstract

Drawing on a community study of musicians from Mount Vernon, Ohio, I examine the interpenetration of regional and national musical cultures by examining the repertoires and life histories of Dan Emmett, founder of the first professional blackface minstrel troupe in 1843; the Snowden Family Band, African American stringband musicians who performed in the 1850s through 1920; and John Baltzell, a champion fiddler of the 1920s. Instead of viewing national trends as destructive of regionality, I propose that artists are (and were) selective, active participants in the process of forming repertoire and style. Community-based musicians respond to a variety of national musical influences while maintaining a continuing attachment to locality.