Until the late 1800s and early 1900s, the roads in this part of the country were more paths or tracks than roads. This, paired with the mountainous terrain, made any visitor a curiosity. The music later made a split with its spread into the Piedmont area, which lays between the mountains of the west and the Atlantic coast. The banjo takes on a more prominent role in Piedmont style, alternating with the fiddle as the lead instrument, weaving in an out of the lead.
Both areas, Appalachian and Piedmont, had both black and white population, and both played essentially the same type of music, for themselves and for each other. It was as common a century ago to see a black band playing for a white square dance as for a black square dance. Square dancing took no sides then; it was an equal part of the heritage of blacks as much as whites. Current times show a distinct minority of black country string bands. Then again, most blacks aren’t aware that the banjo was invented by blacks, who played the instrument long before leaving their native lands in the 1500s and later.
Following that fateful meeting at ASU, the three CCD members began getting together with Thompson on weekends to play. Later, the CCD added more area players to their weekend schedule, including Etta Baker and Algia Mae Hinton. If you’re not familiar with those names, shame on you! Do your homework or you’ll go to bed hungry.
CCD began tearing up the music circuit shortly after that first meeting, and now they’re world travelers, spreading the Piedmont Gospel far and wide. Between Thompson coming up with the music, and the CCD coming together for the music, not much happened in string band music overall, and even less in black string band music. The folk revival which took place in the 1950s and 1960s brought mainly whites together playing some of the music to mainly white audiences. The later bluegrass and newgrass bands were also almost solely a white domain. It wasn’t until four decades after the folk revival that several black string bands began forming, causing most blacks to express surprise or even dismay that these groups were playing what they perceived as white people’s music. Which explains both the group’s need for and mission of educating its audiences.