Bars, Blues, and Booze (Hardcover)
Stories from the Drink House (American Made Music)
University Press of Mississippi, 9781496806390, 272pp.
Publication Date: April 27, 2016
Bars, Blues, and Booze collects lively bar tales from the intersection of black and white musical cultures in the South. Many of these stories do not seem dignified, decent, or filled with uplifting euphoria, but they are real narratives of people who worked hard with their hands during the week to celebrate the weekend with music and mind-altering substances. These are stories of musicians who may not be famous celebrities but are men and women deeply occupied with their craft--professional musicians stuck with a day job. The collection also includes stories from fans and bar owners, people vital to shaping a local music scene. The stories explore the "crossroads," that intoxicated intersection of spirituality, race, and music that forms a rich, southern vernacular. In personal narratives, musicians and partygoers relate tales of narrow escape (almost getting busted by the law while transporting moonshine), of desperate poverty (rat-infested kitchens and repossessed cars), of magic (hiring a root doctor to make a charm), and loss (death or incarceration). Here are stories of defiant miscegenation, of forgetting race and going out to eat together after a jam, and then not being served. Assorted boasts of improbable hijinks give the "blue collar" musician a wild, gritty glamour and emphasize the riotous freedom of their fans, who sometimes risk the strong arm of southern liquor laws in order to chase the good times.