The Chitlin' Circuit

The Chitlin' Circuit

And the Road to Rock 'n' Roll

Book - 2011
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A definitive account of the birth of rock 'n' roll in black America, this book establishes the Chitlin' Circuit as a major force in American musical history. Combining terrific firsthand reporting with deep historical research, Preston Lauterbach uncovers characters like Chicago Defender columnist Walter Barnes, who pioneered the circuit in the 1930s, and larger-than-life promoters such as Denver Ferguson, the Indianapolis gambling chieftain who consolidated it in the 1940s. Charging from Memphis to Houston and now-obscure points in between, The Chitlin' Circuit brings us into the sweaty back rooms where such stars as James Brown, B. B. King, and Little Richard got their start. With his unforgettable portraits of unsung heroes including King Kolax, Sax Kari, and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Lauterbach writes of a world of clubs and con men that has managed to avoid much examination despite its wealth of brash characters, intriguing plotlines, and vulgar glory, and gives us an excavation of an underground musical America.
Publisher: New York :, W.W. Norton,, [2011]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2011
ISBN: 9780393076523
Characteristics: xi, 338 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Chitlings circuit


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Feb 21, 2018

Before what we now recognize as "rock and roll" came to be, a bunch of hard-working black performers traveled across the south playing a fantastic blend of blues music with rowdy jazz and other energetic influences. The book does a great job of providing a window into the seedy locations where all this took place. Its only major flaw is how disorganized things are, with the author jumping around from character to character and place to place with confusing frequency. At the same time, it's certainly worth reading.


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