Country and Midwestern: An Evening with Mark Guarino
The Book Stall is pleased to partner with The Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District for an in-store event with acclaimed journalist and author Mark Guarino on Thursday, September 21 at 6:30 pm. He will be discussing his new book, Country and Midwestern: Chicago in the History of Country Music and the Folk Revival, a riveting look at the untold story of Chicago’s pivotal role as a country and folk music capital. Casting a cross-genre net that stretches from Bob Dylan to punk rock, Country and Midwestern rediscovers a history as sprawling as the Windy City, celebrating the creative spirit that modernized American folk idioms, the colorful characters who took them into new terrain, and the music itself, which is still kicking down doors even today. He will be signing his works following the talk! This event is free with registration, to register, please visit our website.
More About the Book: Chicago is revered as a musical breeding ground, having launched many major figures in the music industry. Far less known, however, is the vital role Chicago played in the rise of prewar country music, the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s, and the contemporary offspring of those scenes. In Country and Midwestern, veteran journalist Mark Guarino tells the epic century-long story of Chicago’s influence on sounds typically associated with regions further south. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and deep archival research, Guarino tells a forgotten story of music, migration, and the ways that rural culture infiltrated urban communities through the radio, the automobile, and the railroad.
Years before Nashville emerged as the commercial and spiritual center of country music, major record labels made Chicago their home and recorded legendary figures like Bill Monroe, The Carter Family, and Gene Autry. The National Barn Dance, broadcast from the city’s South Loop in 1924, flourished for two decades as the premier country radio show. Guarino chronicles the makeshift niche scenes like “Hillbilly Heaven” in Uptown, where thousands of relocated Southerners created their own hardscrabble honky-tonk subculture, as well as the 1960s rise of the Old Town School of Folk Music, which eventually brought national attention to local luminaries like John Prine and Steve Goodman. The story continues through the end of the twentieth century and into the present day, where Jon Langford, The Handsome Family, and Wilco meld contemporary experimentation with country traditions.
More About the Author: Mark Guarino covers national news and culture from Chicago for the Washington Post, ABC News, the New York Times, and other outlets. He was the Midwest bureau chief for the Christian Science Monitor for seven years. Visit mark-guarino.com for more information.