Let’s keep it brief.
For the conference details, go to http://vafweb.org/Durham-2016 and click on the bold program and paper sessions links. To register and book the best and best-priced room in town, click on the register and lodging links.
For the mise-en-scène, the terroir, the good old Southern sense of place, read on and peruse the attached photos. You’ll have the opportunity to see the places that define our traditional piece of piedmont North Carolina: tobacco barns and fields; packhouses, striphouses, ordering pits, and farmhouses; rural and urban mill villages and mills; African-American schools, big and small, public and private; meetinghouses and churches; slave houses and plantation seats. We’ll hear about the Quakers and the Germans; working-class white folks and a few wealthy ones; African-American North Carolinians—free black and successful, enslaved, toilers in the mills, pillars in their middle-class communities.
You’ll also have the opportunity to eat and drink like a piedmont North Carolinian. We’re having a pig-pickin’ (with vegetarian options of course). Over the course of the conference, we’ll serve up collards, hush puppies, chicken pastry, black-eyed peas, cornbread, grits, banana pudding—all washed down by copious amounts of sweet tea. And a beer crafted just for us.
There will even be traditional piedmont blues and some boogie-woogie to listen and dance to. For the Saturday night banquet, we’ve engaged Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos with special guest John Dee Holeman. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM85ACbXSlY to see them playing together. (Watch the folks in this video: they should improve your dance-floor comfort level.) Mel is a nationally recognized blues harpist and Mr. Holeman is still going strong at 86, playing the piedmont blues as the Lord intended.
We look forward to seeing you and showing you how the people around here used to, and in many ways still, live.
Claudia Brown, Marvin Brown
Durham conference co-organizers