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Music History Review   



Dixie Lullaby:
A Story of Music, race, and  New Beginnings in a New South
by Mark Kemp
Free Press, 2004
Hardcover, $26.00 (295 pages)
ISBN: 0-7432-3794-3
Dixie Lullaby is as evocative as the music it celebrates. Mark Kemp, who grew up in North Carolina, instinctively understood rock and roll, particularly SOUTHERN rock and roll, was his salvation.

Like most southerners of his generation, Kemp (who came of age in the 1970s), heard racial epithets among his older relatives , was the first in his family to attend a racially integrated elementary school, and watched television sitcoms depicting the south and southerners as dimwitted rednecks. Taught to respect his elders, he took umbrage with his relatives' attitudes toward the changes going in his hometown, the south, and the United States.

When he was introduced to southern rock music -- the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd -- he felt a keen kinship with the bands. Kemp found a new identity through their music. No longer a small town boy with a racist heritage, he identified himself with tolerance and forgiveness.

In Dixie Lullaby, Kemp chronicles the course of southern rock and roll from the Muscle Shoals Sound in the 1960s, through the heyday of Capricorn Records, Jimmy Carter's administration,  R.E.M., and, more recently, the Drive-By Truckers, coming full circle. Along the way, Kemp becomes alienated from his father, leaves his hometown for New York, served as music editor for ROLLING STONE, was the vice president of music editorial for MTV Networks, married, developed a problem with addictions, divorced, recovered, reconciled with his father, and wrote this memoir.

Music fans should not miss this memoir. Kemp's interviews and insights are worth much more than the price of the book.

Kemp now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he's the entertainment editor at The Charlotte Observer.
Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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