Live at Jackson Station: Music, Community, and Tragedy in a Southern Blues Bar

Univ. of South Carolina. Jan. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781643361451. pap. $24.99. MUSIC
Sociologist Harrison offers a social history of and love letter to Jackson Station, a legendary blues bar in rural western South Carolina. Owner Gerald Jackson had purchased an abandoned train depot for a dollar in the ’70s, then transported the depot to some land he had inherited; in 1978, Jackson Station was born. In the ’80s, Jackson Station was the place to be for bands and musicians, including Widespread Panic, Bob Margolin, Drink Small, Nappy Brown, the Swimming Pool Q’s, Sensible Pumps, Sweet Betty, and Tinsley Ellis. Harrison paints a vivid portrait of Jackson as a music aficionado, a businessman, a Southerner, a mama’s boy, a visionary, and a gay man in a committed open relationship. The venue was a great unifier; patrons came from all walks of life—from blue-collar workers to college students and professors—and people of all races and sexual orientations gravitated to it. Alas, the music stopped the night Jackson was attacked in the bar’s parking lot by two angry patrons who had been asked to leave for refusing to pay the cover charge; Jackson was paralyzed in the attack.
VERDICT This well-researched account of a significant musical site, and its place and time in history, will appeal to blues fans and readers interested in U.S. Southern culture.
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