Christopher Wilkinson mined census records, newspaper articles, personal interviews and many other sources in researching his new book, “Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930-1942.” The book illustrates the relationship between the coal industry and the short-lived heyday of big band jazz that occurred in the Mountain State during the Great Depression and early World War II.
Wilkinson will speak at the West Virginia Book Festival at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Charleston Civic Center. He will autograph books immediately after his talk.
Wilkinson is a professor of music history at West Virginia University. A jazz historian, he teaches courses on that subject at the university and has presented talks to the general public on jazz. He also wrote “Jazz on the Road: Don Albert’s Musical Life,” published by University of California Press in 2001. “Big Band Jazz” is published by University Press of Mississippi.
The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame’s traveling museum will be stationed in the Festival Marketplace, featuring some of the musicians mentioned in the book. The Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting and preserving the rich and lasting contributions West Virginians have made to all genres of music.
The 12th annual West Virginia Book Festival will be held Oct. 13 and 14. The two-day event celebrates books and reading and offers something for all age groups. A variety of authors will attend, participating in book signings, readings, workshops and panel discussions. Activities for children include special programs and a section of the Marketplace filled with children’s activities. Admission to the festival is free.
The event is presented by The Library Foundation of Kanawha County, Inc., Kanawha County Public Library, the West Virginia Humanities Council, The Charleston Gazette and the Charleston Daily Mail and is sponsored by The Martha Gaines and Russell Wehrle Memorial Foundation, Pam Tarr and Gary Hart and Books-A-Million. For more information, visit www.wvbookfestival.org.