This book review of “The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ‘N’ Roll” is intended for fans of music and history. It is 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 evolved. It can also help avowed fans of any of the following musical forms: rock, jazz, blues, soul, and r&b gain a greater appreciation for current and past artists of those musical genres.
I know no more about the author of the book, Preston Lauterbach, than what is found on the inside cover of the book or on his website at prestonlauterbach.com. But what I do know is that Mr. Lauterbach has a great ability to present how Rock ‘N’ Roll evolved.
Mr. Lauterbach’s writings taught me how historical economic changes, political changes, and social/cultural changes in the US contributed to the evolution of music. This included an incredible presentation of how non-musical forces drove the development of the “chitlin’ circuit”, and then, in turn, how the chitlin’ circuit facilitated the development of an American musical art form along with an entirely new economic sector. : the combination of live music production, the recording industry and the broadcasting of music to air on radio and television.
One of the surprises for me: Before reading the book, I thought the chitlin’ circuit was a reference to a network of music clubs or venues located in the concentrated region of the southeastern states of the US. Instead, what I learned was that the chitlin’ circuit was a complex network located in a larger and sometimes changing group (depending on changing economic circumstances) of clubs, bars, cafes/restaurants, music venues and sometimes improvised places (barns). This network was located in the southeastern states of the US, as well as in Houston, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit, and cities on the East Coast.
I also learned that the chitlin’ circuit was both informal and formal. Mr. Lauterbach’s book shows the reader how smart club owners and booking agents/talent agencies linked together to develop a successful market for music performances that later spawned a profitable market for recorded music.
I also found an interesting presentation of “The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ‘N’ Roll” on how tour booking agents developed and controlled the circuit in the early days, which led to the development of successful clubs and other venues. for live music. Mr. Lauterbach tells us how the touring business and related live music performances spawned successful artists. Successful artists then produced creative new music which then brought about changes in the way live music was presented to audiences throughout the circuit. And those changes, in turn, spawned innovations for the recording industry, which eventually supplanted the touring industry as the primary economic force driving music in the US.
I also think that Mr. Lauterbach was giving the reader a bittersweet story based on historical fact. The bittersweet story involves the evolution of the segregated America of the past to a country that today is officially desegregated. The book explains how racial integration changed the urban economy of the US, which in turn ultimately led to the demise of “The Stroll”, which was located in every American city. “The Stroll” was another name for African American “cities within cities” and/or concentrated African American economic centers within each American community prior to the achievement of desegregation.
The word “bittersweet” is used here because this book presents sad stories caused by the cruel and unjust racism suffered by African-Americans in the US, the links of those sad stories to the development of beautiful music, and the classic stories of the rags to riches. of successful black music artists. The book tells us the rest of the story about how changes in public policy at the federal and local government levels (such as the federal government’s urban renewal and interstate highway programs) caused the Chitlin Loop landscape to fade. .
But at the end of the day: The book titled “The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ‘N’ Roll” shows us that the great music produced by the Chitlin’ Circuit remains and is there for each and every listener to enjoy. of music. .