"I couldn’t put it down. Randy McNutt’s passion for music comes through loud and clear on every page." George Thorogood
Everyone knows the importance of Nashville, New York, LA, and Chicago to popular music, but what about Norfolk and Bakersfield?
When recording was more art than commerce, regional music centers flourished. From the 1940s to the 1970s, hundreds of hitsfrom "My Guy" to "Five O’Clock World"came out of New Orleans, Muscle Shoals, Memphis, Houston, Cincinnati, and other music centers that are too often forgotten today. The important role they played is described in Randy McNutt’s entertaining new book, Guitar Towns.
Paying tribute to neglected treasures, McNutt, a writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer and a record producer himself, traveled across America to seek the creators of pop music’s hits, misses, and myths. The book recounts his personal odyssey as it documents an important chapter in American cultural history.
McNutt persuaded singers, songwriters, disc jockeys, producers, and session players to talk to him about their lives and their music, and they responded with enthusiasm and flair. Guitar Towns is irresistible to anyone interested in pop music and culture.
Each spring my itch for sonic Americana worsened with the tree pollen. I navigated with two dozen old and new state and local maps, which I stored in a nylon briefcase on my back seat. Right away, I realized I couldn’t visit every music center. So I limited my journeys to areas with strong roots and music ties. I preferred the Soul Zone, a musical hothouse stretching from Cincinnati to the Gulf of Mexico and an area that wielded a disproportionate influence on American music for decades. Amazingly, Southern music teams, often consisting of blacks and whites, made high-quality records as their cities churned with racial conflict. from Chapter One
Indiana University Press