Fans of the blues and lively music clubs will find this fascinating.



An account of an extraordinary Southern musical oasis and the tragedy that shut it down.

“Throughout the 1980s, Jackson Station Rhythm & Blues Club of Hodges, South Carolina, was one of the liveliest places to be,” writes sociology professor Harrison in this well-reported book. In terms of musical significance, Jackson was like a juke joint for a new generation, a place for musicians to sustain and nurture themselves and to play until sunrise for increasingly lubricated fans. It was also run by two openly gay men in a region not known for its tolerance; the no-nonsense mother of one of the men worked the door and turned away anyone she didn’t like. It was something of a safe haven where nearly anyone—gay, straight, White, Black, redneck, hippie, etc.—could mingle and enjoy the music. There were usually a few cows outside, and you could find marijuana, cocaine, and LSD if you knew where to look. Jackson served as a crucible for Widespread Panic in its early days and launched the career comeback of Nappy Brown, and it was the home away from home for touring blues artists and a place where newer acts, many from Athens, Georgia, could find a booking. Sadly, it all came crashing down when co-owner Gerald Jackson, a Vietnam vet seemingly beloved by everyone, followed a drunken customer into the parking lot to argue over a small amount of money. The customer hit Jackson in the head with an ax, which didn’t kill him but left him a quadriplegic “who needed twenty-four-hour attention.” Though Harrison tries to do a little too much with the narrative—an amalgam of musicological analysis of the history of the blues, a sociological and historical survey of the region, and the function of such a club within it—the basic facts of the story make it abundantly clear that Jackson was truly something special.

Fans of the blues and lively music clubs will find this fascinating.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64336-145-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Univ. of South Carolina

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

  • National Book Award Winner



The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?