Past Event

Mussels, Moonshine, Music: Mississippi Valley Migrants in the 20th Century

A Road Scholar Program by Dennis Stroughmatt

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

Musician and cultural historian Dennis Stroughmatt will lead a voyage of discovery incorporating artifacts, photographs, folktales, and performances in river-based musical styles passed down from his mussel-shelling and river-working grandfather Chancy Stroughmatt’s generation. He will invite audiences to visit the history of early-20th-century Illinois and even sing along to the music of the age.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Arrowhead Community Center at 815-467-7275.