“Step It Up and Go”

Step“Step It Up and Go: The Story of North Carolina Popular Music, from Blind Boy Fuller and Doc Watson to Nina Simone and Superchunk,” (2020, University of North Carolina Press). Find it on amazon.com , bookshop or bn.com. Beyond America, the book is available in England, France, Germany, Spain, Japan, India and New Zealand.

Short trailer

“Step It Up and Go” — the Spotify playlist

Raleigh music playlist (also on Spotify)

Readings and Events

Tuesday, Aug. 25 (7 p.m.) – Virtual event with novelist David Goodwillie and writer/musician Kelly Crisp, via Page 158 Books, Wake Forest.

Wednesday, Oct. 14 — “History @ High Noon” talk on beach music, virtual event via North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh.

Monday, Oct. 19 (7 p.m.) — Virtual event with Scott Huler via Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh.

Saturday, Oct. 24 — Record Store Day at Schoolkids Records, Raleigh.

Thursday, Oct. 29 (6 p.m.) — Virtual discussion with Jon Wurster and Tom Maxwell via Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill.


goodread reviews



David Menconi has been in attendance or helped with coverage of every meaningful music event, concert or festival in the piedmont of North Carolina that I can remember over my 20-year career. He deserves to be the one to deliver this comprehensive look into North Carolina musical history.
— Woody Platt, Steep Canyon Rangers

Music is one of North Carolina’s greatest calling cards to the world, and David Menconi is an unmatched ambassador for that music. Weaving together the genres, artists, and songs that feel like the fabric we all wear, Menconi showcases a keen ear for a story, and a journalist’s sense of history.”
Joe Newberry, musician & Kindness Ninja ™

At long last, David Menconi has given us the musical overview the Tarheel State truly deserves.
Jon Wurster, Superchunk

“Step It Up and Go” stands alone as a comprehensive, thought-provoking narrative detailing a century’s worth of the entire North Carolina music scene, from the bravado of Charlie Poole and his banjo-driven string music to the wildly creative 9th Wonder and his shepherding of a vital North Carolina hip-hop scene. Menconi’s writing gifts, years of journalism, and direct contact with many of the state’s music figures makes the stories sing from inside and out. North Carolina has needed this book and all its music lovers should celebrate its arrival.
— Thomas Goldsmith (author, “Earl Scruggs and Foggy Mountain Breakdown: The Making of an American Classic”)

Menconi has written a history of North Carolina music that is as lilting as a Piedmont ballad, as pleasurable as a Libba Cotton pick-and-strum, and with all the forward drive of a Fulton Allen solo. That is to say: you should read this book.
— Osha Gray Davidson (author, “The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South”)

“Step It Up and Go” is a landmark publication that tracks the state’s rich musical history. David Menconi eloquently introduces early musicians like Shirley Caesar, Elizabeth Cotton, Blind Boy Fuller, Clyde McPhatter, Theolonius Monk, Charlie Poole, Earl Scruggs, Nina Simone, and Doc Watson, as well as contemporary performers like the Avett Brothers, Phonte Coleman, Rhiannon Giddens, Mandolin Orange, Megafaun, Tift Merritt, the Red Clay Ramblers, Southern Culture on the Skids, Superchunk, and Mike “M.C.” Taylor. Menconi delivers a long overdue salute to North Carolina as an unending source of musical talent that has defined the fields of old time country, bluegrass, gospel, blues, jazz, rock and roll, and hip hop.
William Ferris, UNC professor and Grammy winner 


343 Collection podcast interview


No Depression wrapup of upcoming Fall 2020 books

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