Dixie Lullaby
A Story of Music, Race, and New Beginnings in a New South

Mark Kemp

"Kemp's grace and insight into a complex cultural scenario forms a combination that's hard to beat."


"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."
Publishers Weekly

"A cathartic treatise on the author’s life in and with the music of his formative and adult years and the musicians who brought it to him. . . . For anyone who digs the music but never gave the politics a fleeting thought, this book is a must. It will open your eyes and your mind, whether you’re white or black, a southerner or a recent immigrant to this land of paradoxes."
Jackson Free Press

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In Dixie Lullaby, a veteran music journalist ponders the transformative effects of rock and roll on the generation of white southerners who came of age in the 1970s--the heyday of disco, Jimmy Carter, and Saturday Night Live. Growing up in North Carolina, Mark Kemp burned with shame and anger at the attitudes of many white southerners--some in his own family--toward the recently won victories of the civil rights movement. "I loved the land that surrounded me but hated the history that haunted that land," he writes.

Then the down-home, bluesy rock of the Deep South began taking the nation by storm, and Kemp had a new way of relating to the region that allowed him to see beyond its legacy of racism and stereotypes of backwardness. Although Kemp would always struggle with an ambivalence familiar to many white southerners, the seeds of redemption were planted in adolescence when he first heard Duane Allman and Ronnie Van Zant pour their feelings into their songs.

In the tradition of Nick Tosches, Peter Guralnick, and other music historians, Kemp maps his own southern odyssey onto the stories of such iconic bands as the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and R.E.M., as well as influential indies like the Drive-By Truckers. In dozens of interviews with quintessential southern rockers and some of their most diehard fans, Kemp charts the course of the music that both liberated him and united him with countless others who came of age under its spell. This is a thought-provoking, searingly intimate, and utterly original journey through the South and its music from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Page count: 328 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $26.95

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Mark Kemp is the editor of SF Weekly in San Francisco. He has served as music editor of Rolling Stone, vice president of music editorial for MTV Networks, and editor of the Charlotte, North Carolina, edition of the alternative weekly Creative Loafing. In 1997 he received a Grammy nomination for his liner notes to the album Farewells and Fantasies, a retrospective of music by 1960s protest singer Phil Ochs.