When I was a kid, my mom told me a story about her grandfather: That he got in trouble with some white men down south, and escaped lynching by running to Chicago. That he chose his new last name "Jones," because it was the most common name in the phone book. That, for years, he would sit in his chair facing the door, shotgun on his lap, waiting for them to come for him.
Before the Civil Rights movement, segregated American cities helped give birth to the Chitlin' Circuit, a touring revue that provided employment for hundreds of black musicians. Rock historian Ed Ward profiles two recent books which illuminate the conditions these musicians endured.