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VINE VOICEon December 26, 2011
This was a work that kept me interested and excited to learn more about individuals who in total were responsible for Rhythm and Blues, which was later morphed into Rock-n-Roll.

The Chitlin Circuit referred to the grand tour of ever changing southern bars, taverns, holes in the wall, barbeque joints, and makeshift venues for dancing or simply those to showcase new black artists, while turning a substantial buck on the booze sold. The era described extended from about 1930 to the mid 1980s. At the beginning of that era, the featured performers had larger orchestras and preferred to play SWING, while the crowds would rather hear smaller bands that played R&B. The promoters agreed with the crowds as the guarantees were much smaller for bands than orchestras.

One of the added bonuses of this book were the numerous B/W photos of the many people who made this musical form popular. The author's telling of this story is done in a rapid fire staccato pacing. An example being "He modified what Mother Nature gave him to compensate for what Father Time took away." How can you not love a line like that. It was just so easy to see the scenes depicted through the author's voice. Even the chapter titles as "The Loser Goes to the Hospital, the Winner Goes to Jail!" has a certain panache and verve that sets the tone of the place and period. There were numerous vignettes of the many important personalities of the era that enabled you to get to know them on a more personal level. We get to know the history of how Riley King morphed into B. B. King, Richard Pennington into "Little Richard", John Alexander Jr. into Johnny Ace, Willa Mae Thornton into Big Mama Thornton and all the intrigue and events of the daily life on the circuit. This is a must read for anyone interested in that period of our history and it background and certainly for all interested in the roots of R&B. A great read!
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on November 25, 2011
I was in the middle of reading another book when I saw this title on amazon. It was at that point I realized there is not much material dedicated specifically to the chitlin' circuit. I immediately set my book down to finish later and ordered "The Chitlin' Circuit".

Lauterbach's book is a fun, informative read about a time in pop music history that must have been in a constant state of chaos. I can only imagine all the personalities that were involved in the chitlin' circuit, as well as the frantic nature of making dates, trying to communicate back and forth, housing challenges, unpredictable venues, and keeping up with the constant change of popular music taste.

The book is well researched and I appreciate the specific names and locations. For example, among the events and stories I learned about included Walter Barnes and the song "The Natchez Fire," that Gene Gilmore performed about Barnes. This specific account shows that not every gig was fun and games.

The content is full of colorful characters and accounts of scheming and drama. Pop music history buffs will certainly devour this book in no time. It's also accessable to the casual music fan. "The Chitlin' Circuit" is begging to be made into a miniseries or a documentary! Ken Burns are you listening!?
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on March 20, 2012
In this book Preston Lauterbach has dug deep into the origins and the workings of the chiltlin' circuit, a place of mystery that I knew by name as a signifier for down-home music and what I imagined to be wild and behaviour you wouldn't take down-home. I know a great deal more now because Lauterbach's scope of research and ability as an historian is astounding. For a writer in 2011 to have found the information and pieced together the puzzle that is contained in this book is a remarkable achievement.

For work of this kind I am always on the lookout for errors that will tell me the real depth of a writer's research and commitment. I'm not an expert but I can pick a faker, all I found were a couple of very minor factual errors; Mr Lauterbach is the real deal in music history and I hope that he continues his commitment.

Aspects of the book that I really liked were finally Roy Brown getting due credit for his achievements. I also liked that we weren't spoon-fed the R&B + C&W = Rock and Roll myth again. Elvis Presley while a significant artist and cultural influence had nothing to do with `creating' Rock and Roll, that work was done. Presley's significant achievement was the brief popularising of rockabilly; music which he quickly abandoned (as the public did) in favour of the already existent Rock and Roll. I love Elvis, but I also love those who came before and who Mr Lauterbach pays tribute to in this book.

After all this praise of the book I have to say that the Lauterbach's writing style needs some work. At times I found the book a little difficult to get through and I am ready to admit that it may just be me, or maybe that there is so much new that you need to take it a little slowly. I found the writing overall a little too earnest, and the attempts at humour often a bit forced. The writing style overall made me work a little bit too hard when it should have carried me along for the ride.

It is Preston Lauterbach's first book and a great achievement. His writing will improve, his research and historical analysis skills are there already. I recommend this book to people who really care about the multi-layers that went into the creation of rock and roll and want to look past the standard simplistic history.
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on April 2, 2014
columbus 'discovered' america, right? (of course not). the history and common knowledge we use everyday is filled with mistakes and omissions. especially when it comes to minorities (and i'm including the jews, the irish and other groups that influenced america and didn't get recognition immediately for it).

if you think you know something about black music because you bought Run DMC and Public Enemy when they first came out, shut up and read this book. this book not only discusses some of the development of black music, but the development of a black middle class that sought to expand, improve and compete with white culture (which shut it out).

hence the chitlin' circuit and all it has given us - blues, soul, jump, jive, swing, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, funk and more.

even if you are fairly knowledgeable about this stuff, you'll learn something new every other page.
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on May 19, 2018
I have always wondered how the Beatles and Rolling Stones got inspiration for their music from black musicians from the early days of rock n roll. Now I know. Fascinating history and I am learning more and more how southern black culture has heavily influence American culture.
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on December 24, 2012
Mr. Lauterbach has given us the gift of an insightful history of a little know corner of American culture. Yes, this book is about the development of Black Music in the 20th Century, but is also a parallel story of the United States. It is told through the stories of larger than life entrepreneurs, brothels, jake joints, juke joints, Bronzevilles, gambling houses and the tides that gave rise to the development of the road for black musicians. The Chitlin' Circuit was the backbone of Black Music. Without it I doubt we'd ever see James Brown or BB King. From big bands to blues combos, this book covers it all and gives a very strong argument for Rock and Roll's birth from the Mother Circuit. But It Now and celebrate Mr. Lauterbach's genius.
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on October 16, 2017
Very informative read. A lot of detail some readers may not be too interested in such as lay out and demographics of cities and towns. I enjoyed this as it gives a better picture of the times and histories of different places where these artist were living and preforming. If you are interested in history and music I'd very much recommend this book.
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on March 26, 2012
If you have any interest in the blues and its influence on the fledgling rock n' roll, you will learn a great deal about the "progression" of the blues from the dance halls to the recording studios. As the post-war economy forced larger traveling bands to downsize to smaller, more affordable combos, the style and rythmn of the music changed accordingly. The vocalist, for example, took center stage, as music transformed from "swing" to a mixture of jazz and blues. Chitlin' Circuit is a well written chronicle of a period in time that I wish I could have witnessed first hand. Preston Lauterbach's book is the next best thing to being there.
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on April 3, 2014
I've read quite a bit about music and musicians over the years. Some of it has been engrossing. Some has read like a PhD thesis in musicology. (Some of it probably was). This is neither the most exciting, nor the most dry writing I've ever encountered. I'd say it was well written, covered a subject I found interesting and wanted to know more about, and seems to be well researched. If you have an interest in the roots of the *business* side of American popular music (rock & roll, R&B), and would like to better know some of the early musical characters on the Chitlin Circuit, you should not hesitate to buy this book.
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on February 8, 2017
As a music journalist, I first heard this term "Chitlin Circuit" from Terri Lewis of Flyte Time, later called "The Time." I have never viewed modern or earlier music the same way ever since (a couple of decades). May the Powers That Be Bless these folks for writing this book. Our present-day music would sound very different if it weren't for these earlier music pioneers who suffered a lot of indignities to be heard. The book also traces a lot of the important influences each artist passed down to successive generations. A "Must Read" for anyone who claims to understand modern music." Such a gift--Invaluable insights.
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