chitlin' circuit (Dec. 1966)
bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 17 06:34:40 UTC 2014
Excellent find, Wilson! This isn't exactly what Lou Rawls was talking
about in the '60s, but it's a significant predecessor. The 1953
example appears in "Hocus-Pocus" by Bill Sachs, Billboard's column on
the world of professional magicians. Sachs used "the Grits and
Chittlins Circuit" again the following year, and as before he is
referring to the vaudeville magicians Mal and Maxine Lippincott:
Billboard, Feb. 21, 1953, p. 57
Mal. B. Lippencott [sic], playing his usual route over the Grits and
Chittlins Circuit thru the South, typewrites from Natchez, Miss.,
under date of February 4, to report that business is okay but that
heavy opposition in the territory is making booking tough.
Billboard, June 19, 1954, p. 51
The Lippincotts, Mal and Maxine, after an extended season in Flordia
and several months on the Grits and Chittlins Circuit thru Alabama and
Georgia, begin a 150day stand at Fontaine Ferry Park, Louisville.
The Magicpedia entry on Mal Lippincott gives another 1953 example:
The April 1953 Tops reported that "Lippincott, veteran tent show and
free act worker, also down in the "chittlin' and grits" circuit."
I'm not sure if a term used by (white) vaudeville magicians could have
transformed into the Rawlsian "chitlin circuit," but as a wise man
once said, youneverknow. My guess is it was independent invention, in
both cases perhaps inspired by "the borscht belt."
On Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 12:42 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> Billboard - Feb 21, 1953 - Page 57
> Magazine - =E2=80=8EFull view
> ... playing his usual route over the
> _Grits and Chittlins_ Circuit
> thru the South, typewrites from Natchez, Miss., under date of February 4,
> to report that business is okay but that heavy opposition in the territory
> is making ...
> On Sun, Feb 16, 2014 at 11:30 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
>> On NPR's Code Switch blog, Tanya Ballard Brown has a piece on the
>> origins of the term "chitlin' circuit," citing Jon Lighter and me,
>> among others:
>> There's a modest antedating in there -- a Dec. 3, 1966 Billboard
>> article that edges out the Jan. 8, 1967 L.A. Times article noted by
>> Bill Mullins on the list back in '05. As with the other early
>> examples, Lou Rawls is the credited source of the term:
>> "As a result of the disk hits, [Lou] Rawls has become an artist in
>> demand. He's booked solid through next August and is first starting to
>> play cities off the 'chitlin' circuit,' his affectionate name for the
>> small blues clubs."
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