This book review of “The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ‘N’ Roll” is for fans of music and history. It’s recommended reading for anyone who appreciates the intersections of music and history.
The book helps any music fan share with others how today’s popular music has evolved. It can also help self-proclaimed fans of any of the following music forms: rock, jazz, blues, soul, and r&b to better appreciate current and past artists in those musical genres.
I don’t know any more about the author of the book, Preston Lauterbach, than what is on the inside cover of the book and/or on his website at prestonlauterbach.com. But what I do know is that Mr. Lauterbach has a great ability to present the evolution of Rock ‘N’ Roll.
Mr. Lauterbach’s writings have taught me how historical economic changes, political changes, and social/cultural changes in the United States have contributed to the evolution of music. This included an incredible presentation of how non-musical forces led to the development of the “chitlin’ circuit” and then in turn how the chitlin’ circuit facilitated the development of an American musical art form as well as a sector entirely new economy itself: the combination of live music production, the recording industry and live music broadcasting via radio and television.
One of the surprises for me: before reading the book, I thought that the chitlin circuit was a reference to a network of clubs and/or music halls located in the concentrated region of the southeastern states of the United States. Instead, what I learned was that the chitlin circuit was a complex network set within a larger and sometimes changing (depending on changing economic circumstances) group of clubs, bars, cafes/restaurants, music halls and sometimes makeshift places (barns). This network was located in the southeastern states of the United States as well as Houston, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit, and cities on the east coast.
I also learned that the chitlin’ circuit was really both informal and formal. Mr. Lauterbach’s book shows the reader how savvy club owners and booking agents/talent agencies networked to develop a thriving musical performance market which then spawned a profitable market for music. recorded.
I also found an intriguing presentation of “The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ‘N’ Roll” on how tour booking agents developed and controlled the tour early on, which led to the development of clubs and other hotspots for live music. Mr. Lauterbach tells us how touring and live musical performances spawned successful artists. The successful artists then produced creative new music which then produced changes in the way live music was presented to audiences throughout the circuit. And these changes in turn spawned innovations for the recording industry – which eventually supplanted the touring industry as the main economic driver of music in the United States.
I also think that Mr. Lauterbach offered the reader a bittersweet story based on historical facts. The bittersweet story involves the evolution from the segregated America of the past to a country that is now officially desegregated. The book discusses how racial integration changed America’s urban economy, which ultimately led to the demise of “the Stroll” which was located in every American city. “The Stroll” was another name for Black American “cities within cities” and/or Black American economic centers concentrated within each American community prior to the realization of desegregation.
The word “bittersweet” is used here because this book presents sad stories caused by the cruel and unjust racism endured by African Americans across the United States, the connections of these sad stories to the development of the beautiful music and classic stories from rags to riches. of successful black music artists. The book gives us the rest of the story on how public policy changes at the federal and local government levels (such as the federal government’s urban renewal and interstate highway programs) then made disappear the landscape of the circuit of Chitlin.
But at the end of the day: the book called “The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ‘N’ Roll” shows us that the great music produced by the chitlin’ circuit remains and is here for all music listeners can take advantage of it.