The smoke was thick, the music was loud, and the beer was flowing. In the fast-and-loose 1980s, Jackson Station Rhythm & Blues Club in Hodges, South Carolina, was a festive late-night roadhouse filled with people from all walks of life who gathered to listen to the live music of high-energy performers. Housed in a Reconstruction-era railway station, the blues club embraced local Southern culture and brought a cosmopolitan vibe to the South Carolina backcountry.
Over the years, Jackson Station became known as one of the most iconic blues bars in the South. It offered an exciting venue for local and traveling musical artists, including Widespread Panic, the Swimming Pool Qs, Bob Margolin, Tinsley Ellis, and R&B legend Nappy Brown, who loved to keep playing long after sunrise.
The good times ground to a terrifying halt in the early morning hours of April 7, 1990. A brutal attack—an apparent hate crime—on the owner Gerald Jackson forever altered the lives of all involved.
In this fast-paced narrative, Live At Jackson Station: Music, Community, and Tragedy in a Southern Blues Bar (U South Carolina Press, 2021)emerges as a cultural kaleidoscope that served as an oasis of tolerance and diversity in a time and place that often suffered from undercurrents of bigotry and violence—an uneasy coexistence of incongruent forces that have long permeated southern life and culture.
Daniel M. Harrison earned a BA in Social Sciences from New College of the University of South Florida and MS and PhD degrees from Florida State University. He is currently Professor of Sociology at Lander University. He lives in Greenwood, SC, with his wife, artist Rebecca Salter Harrison, their two daughters, three dogs and two cats.
Harrison's other work has appeared in journals such as Media, Culture, and Society, Sexualities and Current Perspectives in Social Theory.
Morris Ardoin is author of STONE MOTEL: MEMOIRS OF A CAJUN BOY (2020, University Press of Mississippi). A communications practitioner, his work has appeared in regional, national, and international media. He divides his time between New York City and Cornwallville, New York, where he does most of his writing. His blog, Parenthetically Speaking, can be found at www.morrisardoin.com. Twitter: @morrisardoin