Right to the Juke Joint

A Personal History of American Music

Notes from a lifetime loving American music

The cowboy songs and dusty Texas car rides of his youth set Patrick B. Mullen on a lifelong journey into the sprawling Arcadia of American music. That music fused so-called civilized elements with native forms to produce everything from Zydeco to Conjunto to jazz to Woody Guthrie. The civilized/native idea, meanwhile, helped develop Mullen’s critical perspective, guide his love of music, and steer his life’s work.

Part scholar's musings and part fan's memoir, Right to the Juke Joint follows Mullen from his early embrace of country and folk to the full flowering of an idiosyncratic, omnivorous interest in music. Personal memory merges with a lifetime of fieldwork in folklore and anthropology to provide readers with a deeply informed analysis of American roots music. Mullen opens up on the world of ideas and his own tireless fandom to explore how his cultural identity—and ours—relates to concepts like authenticity and "folkness." The result is a charming musical map drawn by a gifted storyteller whose boots have traveled a thousand tuneful roads.

"Patrick Mullen is again our generous host, dispensing delicious BBQ, Southern roots dance music and agile musical insights from 'Be-Bop-A-Lula' and Randy's Record Shop—the radio station of "Rhythm and Blues' onward. The new book lets us ride shotgun with Mullen on his journey from Beaumont, Texas boy to Ohio professor to dancing to 'Don't Be Cruel' and 'The Twist' amidst the diversity of American Music. Read Pat Mullen at his expansive best.”--E. Cecilia Conway, author of African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia: A Study of Folk Traditions

"Right to the Juke Joint is an evocative journey through music that tracks the life of its author—Patrick Mullen—from his childhood to the present. Mullen's enduring love for music inspired his life as a folklorist. Beginning with Ray Charles's 'I Got a Woman,' he moves the reader from blues, rock and roll, and rockabilly in the Fifties to jazz, country, and Tex-Mex voices. As one musician told Mullen, 'There ain't but one race created on earth, and that's the human race.' Right to the Juke Joint eloquently shows how music reveals our shared humanity."--William Ferris, author of The South in Color: A Visual Journal

Publication of this book was supported by a grant from the L. J. and Mary C. Skaggs Folklore Fund.


Patrick B. Mullen is professor emeritus of English and folklore at the Ohio State University. His books include The Man Who Adores the Negro: Race and American Folklore and Listening to Old Voices: Folklore, Life Stories, and the Elderly.

To order online:
//www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/35bkr7nx9780252041648.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
The Shadows Rise

Abraham Lincoln and the Ann Rutledge Legend

John Evangelist Walsh

Foggy Mountain Troubadour

The Life and Music of Curly Seckler

Penny Parsons

Bluegrass Generation

A Memoir

Neil V. Rosenberg

Bill Clifton

America's Bluegrass Ambassador to the World

Bill C. Malone

Twentieth Century Drifter

The Life of Marty Robbins

Diane Diekman

Peggy Seeger

A Life of Music, Love, and Politics

Jean R. Freedman

Czech Bluegrass

Notes from the Heart of Europe

Lee Bidgood

Don't Give Your Heart to a Rambler

My Life with Jimmy Martin, the King of Bluegrass

Barbara Martin Stephens