During the heyday of field recording in the late 1920s and 1930s, Charlotte ranked among the most-visited recording locations. In the late 1930s it hosted more recording sessions than Nashville! The city emerged in the 1920s as the hub of America’s new textilemanufacturing belt, a wholesaling and banking centre whose population swelled from less than 20,000 in 1900 to 100,000 by 1940. It sat astride the Southern Railway, “Main Street of the South”, linking New Orleans, Atlanta, Durham, and Washington, DC.
In 1922, WBT radio signed on the air, the second radio station in the South, and by the early 1930s its 50,000 watt signal covered the myriad small cotton farming towns that dotted the rolling
hills of the North and South Carolina piedmont region. The combination of good radio and lots of nearby places to play drew musicians from all over the South to perform live on WBT, making
Charlotte an attractive stop for record labels seeking talent. it is interesting to note here the degree of interchange between black and white musicians at the Charlotte sessions. Jim and Andrew Baxter, whose fiddle-based blues harkened back to the 19th century, travelled up from Georgia along with the white Georgia Yellowhammers string-band and they recorded together on “G-Rag”. The pop culture references and double entendres of the Cedar Creek Sheik and Virgil Childers sound quite similar to songs cut at the same sessions by white Blues players such as Jimmie Davis and Cliff Carlisle. And the instrumental virtuosity of Luke Jordan’s “Church Bell Blues” and “Cocaine Blues” draws on the “crossover” sounds of ragtime, rather than the deep Blues heard in the Mississippi delta.
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