The Chitlin’ Circuit And The Road To Rock And Roll
By Preston Lauterbach
W.W. Norton and Company
[Rating: 4 stars]
The Chitlin’ Circuit And The Road To Rock And Roll offers a rich portrait of the music business kingpins who rose to prominence in the 1930s and 1940s during a time of dramatic social and economic transformation, as hundreds of thousands of black Americans “migrated” from farms to cities, and from Southern locales to fast-growing urban neighborhoods on the West Coast and throughout the Midwest. Creating a new entertainment network that came to be known as the “Chitlin’ Circuit,” those visionary black entrepreneurs helped set the stage for some of the most celebrated names in 20th century popular American music, from Louis Jordan and Ray Charles to James Brown and even Jimi Hendrix. This highly entertaining and enormously informative contribution to modern American history is especially notable for the author’s ability to bring colorful characters to life and place them in the larger context of social change and evolving urban history.