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Dixie Lullaby Hardcover – August 24, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Part memoir, part music history and part social history, Kemp's book cannot decide quite what it wants to be. On the one hand, Kemp tells the story of his own experience of racism in the South and the ways that Southern rock bands helped him move beyond Southern racial attitudes. On the other hand, he regales the reader with sparkling tales of the evolution of Southern rock from 1968 to 1992. Born in Asheboro, N.C., Kemp, a white Southerner, struggled to understand the mysterious ways of segregation. After Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, he observes, a number of Southern rock bands emerged—among them the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd—that challenged the racial views of the South. Drawing on interviews with several musicians and producers, including Phil Walden, Mac Rebennack (Dr. John), Warren Haynes and Jimmy Johnson, Kemp expertly examines the early years of Southern rock (1968–1973), the evolution of redneck rock (1974–1981) and the reconstruction of Southern rock (1982–1992) in bands like R.E.M., Jason and the Scorchers, Gov't Mule and Steve Earle. Kemp's anecdotal and affectionate remembrance of Southern rock provides a solid panoramic view of an important chapter in the history of rock and roll.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In considering the role of his native South in rock-and-roll history, Kemp presents the ways black and white influences intertwined to spawn rock, which then affected how the South subsequently developed. With his bent toward atmospheric description, Kemp seems to aspire to a niche in the Greil Marcus-Dave Marsh sector of Rock-Crit Valhalla as he makes the case that his southern generation felt alienated from parents' traditional values and views of racial segregation. While Kemp's observations on the twin developments of southern rock as played by the likes of the Allman Brothers and Marshall Tucker bands and ostensibly nonracist, Christian Right-linked political conservatism are interesting, his take on rock history rather resembles the same old rock-crit bloviation piled higher and deeper. Behind the hyperbole lurks a may-be-significant look at the confluence of rock music and contemporary American reality. Coming from a guy who, as a youth, was suitably impressed with Funkadelic's classic album Maggot Brain, it couldn't be worthless, could it? Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (August 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743237943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743237949
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Segal Kemp (April 10, 1960) is the editor of SF Weekly in San Francisco. Born in Asheboro, North Carolina, Kemp has previously served as editor of the influential music and culture magazine Option, music editor of Rolling Stone, vice president of music editorial for MTV Networks, and editor-in-chief of the Charlotte, NC, alternative weekly Creative Loafing. In 1997, he was nominated for a Grammy for his liner notes to the CD box set Farewells & Fantasies, a retrospective of music by '60s protest singer Phil Ochs. Kemp's book Dixie Lullaby: A Story of Music, Race and New Beginnings in a New South was published by Free Press/Simon & Schuster in 2004 and issued in soft cover by the University of Georgia Press in 2006. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife Tarrah Segal-Kemp.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Grier on March 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow...I had withdrawal pangs after finishing this book! Kemp takes you on a sentimental tour of Southern rock music through scenery of the concurrent social and political events that affected the region and the nation. Just a small format change could have made it qualify as a music history textbook, yet somehow he has gracefully composed a harmony of history, memoir and good 'ole story tellin'. I learned things I never realized as a fan of many of the artists he discusses while I gained a deeper understanding of the events that rocked the country during my youth. The education was pure joy! His writing style is warm and inviting and keeps you fascinated with the stories as well as the chronology that could otherwise seem pedantic (I even read all the chapter notes!). Whether your youth lies in the 60's or 90's, you will find reading "Dixie Lullaby" a rich experience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Guild on October 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Civil rights freed the white southerner,particularly the young white southerner.It gave us grace,it gave us an opportunity to escape racism and politics of the Old South.We forget what a blessing Martin Luther King Jr. was to the south."..Phil Walden.

This book gives an excellent insight into the south,and particularly North Carolina and the changes that influenced the music of America since the 1960's.What we wre talking about is the blending of country,folk,hard rock and southern blues. Kemp takes us from the days before the Civil Rights Movement when blacks and whites simply could not and did not play in bands together. With the murder of Dr.King came, not only intregation in all sectors of life, but also in music.Rock and Roll came out of the south in the fifties and spread all over the world.In the 60's Kemp shows how Hard Rock in all its forms was also born in the south and likewise spread worldwide.

As you read through this book you are going to come across literally hundreds of musicians and bands and see how they are all intimately entwined.

Although I am now 70,and have never been able to relate completely to Hard Rock,I was amazed how many of the musicians mentioned were familiar and favourites of mine.Just to name a few David Allen Coe,Charlie Daniels,Cash,Jerry Lee Lewis,Springsteen,Cher,Chuck Berry,Little Richard,Bo Diddley,Ronnie Hawkins,Jimmy Carter,Bill Clinton,George Bush,B.B.King,Ray Charles,Allmans,Jefferson Airplane,Buck Owens,Dwight Yokum,John Lennon.Bono and U2,Elvis and on and on are all part of the journey Mark Kemp takes us on through 40 years of change and growth in America.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By dougrhon on September 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book by music writer Mark Kemp is hard to categorize. It is part memoir, part cultural and social history and partly a history of popular music. The author manages to tie the various threads together into a cohesive whole and has written a fascinating book.

Kemp was born in South Carolina in 1960 and came to outside awareness just as the civil rights movement kicked into the highest gear and the old Jim Crow order of the South was breaking down. Kemp had the good fortune to be born to freethinking progressive parents who did not raise him in the atmosphere of invidious racism that characterized the life of so many other southerners of that time. The book really begins with the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. Prior to that event, white musicians backed many of the great black soul and rhythm and blues singers. After King was killed, many blacks felt they could no longer work with either white musicians or white owned music companies. As Kemp points out, the book is not about the fascinating story of black music in the south but of white music. In the year 2005, it is difficult for one who did not live through it, to appreciate what the reputation of the South was in 1969. Even its own young considered the South backwards and indeed, "redneck". As for music, white southern music meant either hillbilly boogie or country western. Southerners did not perform rock music in an indigenous style and those from the South who desired to make it in popular music left for either California or New York and dropped their Southern roots, usually in embarrassment.

This all changed when a man named Phil Walden, former manager for Otis Redding decided to start his own label, which became the fabled Capricorn Records.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Todd and In Charge VINE VOICE on December 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Like Mark, I grew up in the south in the 70s and agree with many of his observations regarding the music scene, racism, and with the heart and soul of a "southern man." I also found his personal story engaging, as he traveled back to meet old girlfriends and go on a road trip through the South with his Dad.

Where I think the book could have been stronger is the somewhat conflicted message Mark leaves regarding the South and its legacy. It's unclear that the author has fully come to terms with his past, and perhaps that is too tall an order for one book anyway. But Mark at times is all over the map, sometimes adopting the rock snob critic persona when in two pages he provides the CW on such unfairly maligned records as the Stone's Black and Blue, The Who By Numbers, The Allmans' Win Lose or Draw, or Gregg Allman's marriage and relationship with Cher. Other times he goes against the CW, turning in a strong and thoughtful defense of Tom Petty's Southern Accents. His testy 1992 interview with Chris Robinson is also a hoot!

So in all I found the book engaging and a great idea, though at times I thought the execution could have been a bit stronger. I look forward to more from this author as he continues to mine and refine his thoughts on this subject.
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