Day 3- Black History Month 🎼🎤🎶
The “Chitlin Circuit” story is really their story – the musicians, crew members, managers, and the bus drivers/mechanics. If you were a black performer in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s you were severely limited in where you could play, or how you could make money.
Thankfully, there was a network of venues that went by the name of the “Chitlin’ Circuit” where black performers were welcomed to perform, socialize, dance, love ❤️, and sometimes eat chittlins. Imagine for a moment.
The name Chitlin Circuit came from the soul food known as chitterlings or chitlins’ depending on where you’re from. Chitterlings are actually stewed pig intestines; cleaned, of course. Often left with the pigs’ organs and undesirable parts after a slaughter, Black people found ways to cook them and feed their families. That was just the way it was.
Jim Crow and racism were at their 20th century worst and this severely limited the distribution of the music. That, plus the fact that the recording business was rigged in favor of the record company owners, meant that in order to make a living, black musicians had to hit the road and do shows to survive.
This included not only blues musicians, but big bands, pop stars, and popular comedians too. Everyone from Count Basie, to Billie Holiday, to James Brown, and Red Foxx… had trouble finding enough places to work.
They travelled up north and down south…and as far west as Texas & Kansas. Often in raggedly old buses that acted as transportation and lodging for the entire crew.
They played black audiences that craved music, to take their minds away from reality. And without these concert halls, clubs, restaurants, lounges, juke joints, and theaters, many black performers might not have survived, let alone been able to make mega hits that have withstood time!