“A lot of things you just couldn’t avoid, obviously,” Menconi said, reeling off a list of names and places, including Watson, bluegrass banjo legend Earl Scruggs, alternative rock pioneer Mitch Easter and the Winston-Salem scene, and the 1990s Chapel Hill scene that spawned Superchunk, Ben Folds Five, and Squirrel Nut Zippers. But some seemingly obvious artists didn’t make the cut.
“I played with a chapter of Ronnie Milsap, but ultimately decided that was beyond the scope of that,” Menconi said. “He’s one of the greats, in the (Country Music) Hall of Fame and all, and I’m sure I’ll hear followers of him asking, ‘What the fuck? ‘
“Randy Travis was another. But in an attempt to cover as much ground as possible, it was like, ‘Well, am I doing a chapter on somebody in styles that I’ve already covered , or do I do the chapter on 9th Wonder and hip hop?’ So it was kind of an easy call.
Winston-Salem and the rest of the triad star in ‘Step It Up and Go,’ starting with country music pioneer Charlie Poole, who worked in textile mills in Alamance Counties and Rockingham. Menconi writes about how his artistry continues to reverberate in the bluegrass world and how his records have been massive hits – even though he has made little profit from them. One of Poole’s most successful records was “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down Blues”, released by Columbia Records in 1925.