Mussels and Music: Mississippi River Valley Migrant Life In the Early Twentieth Century
Tuesday, July 23 | 6:00 p.m. | Gazebo
Presentation and Music Performed by: Dennis Stroughmatt

In a time almost forgotten, the Midwest and upper South were once home to thousands of Americans who lived and worked on the rivers as sharecroppers, fishermen, mussel shellers, button cutters, traveling minstrels, and even moonshiners. Work was their life, and the work was hard. But though they were the backbone of industry in cities like Muscatine and Cairo, they played too, enjoying the music of Memphis and St. Louis along their way.

In this presentation and performance, internationally acclaimed fiddler and historic preservationist Dennis Stroughmatt will introduce the audience to the often-unknown industry of the river-based mussel shellers and button cutters plus reminisce and perform (with fiddle in hand) many of the songs well known during his great-grandfather and grandfather’s generation of minstrels and mussel shellers who worked and performed along the Mississippi and Wabash River in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

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