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Mark Kemp

Mark Kemp

Mark Kemp is the author of Dixie Lullaby: A Story of Music, Race & New Beginnings in a New South (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2004; The University of Georgia Press, 2006). Mark has written new and features, columns, essays and reviews since the late 1980s for Option, Rolling Stone, THe New York Times, The Charlotte Observer, Harp, Paste, Business North Carolina and many other publications. He has served as music editor of Rolling Stone and vice president of music editorial for MTV Networks.

In 1997 he received a Grammy nomination for his liner notes to Farewells & Fantasies, a three-disc retrospective of music by ’60s protest folksinger Phil Ochs.

Mark began his journalism career in the early ’80s as a reporter at the Times-News of Burlington, N.C., and later as an editor at the science magazine Discover. In the early ’90s, he served as editor of the Los Angeles-based Option magazine, one of the chief chroniclers of the post-punk indie and alternative rock, hip-hop, contemporary jazz and avant-garde scenes, as well as a rich source of information on musical styles and trends from other countries and cultures.

In 2002, he returned to his home state of North Carolina where he continues to write about music, business and culture for a variety of publications and websites.

List of articles in the library by artist

The Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth: Thurston Moore and Mike D: Starpower

Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, July 1992

THE SCENE: A TRENDY RESTAURANT in L.A. called the Hollywood Canteen. Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth is sitting in a corner booth, slouched over a ...

Beck: Folk Futurist

Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, March 1994

Why do people like Beck? You know he's a loser, definitely. How do you fans like a song about Beck being a loser? He isn't ...

Beck: The Rolling Stone Interview

Interview by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, April 1997

"YOU gotta do the chicken thing again." Beck's manager interrupts the 26-year-old singer's lunch on the set of the British popular music show TFI Friday ...

Cindy Lee Berryhill, Kirk Kelly, Lach, Michelle Shocked, Roger Manning: New Folk: Folk You

Report and Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, November 1988

IT'S ANOTHER sweaty, late June New York City Friday evening, and Michelle Shocked is walking eastward across Chinatown's busy Canal Street. ...

Bob Mould, Jello Biafra: Bob Mould and Jello Biafra: Two Faces of Punk

Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, July 1991


John Cale, Lou Reed: John Cale/Lou Reed: 15 Minutes With You

Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, July 1990

THE HECKLER'S voice sounded its fury like a cannon about midway through Lou Reed and John Cale's performance of Songs For Drella, a pop requiem ...

Johnny Cash: Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (Legacy Edition)

Review by Mark Kemp, Paste, October 2008

IN THE DOCUMENTARY included with this new edition of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, daughter Rosanne shatters the mythology surrounding her dad, gently bringing him ...

Chickasaw Mudd Puppies, R.E.M., Vic Chesnutt: Michael Stipe: What Are Friends For

Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, September 1990

2 SODA FOUNTAIN glasses full of strawberry-banana smoothie, a plate of nachos covered with melted cheese, a gorgeous Manhattan spring afternoon: what more could a ...

Vic Chesnutt: Famous By Association

Interview by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, September 1996

Vic Chesnutt joins in his rock & roll heroes in the spotlight ...

Cindy Lee Berryhill: Beat Poetry

Profile and Interview by Mark Kemp, Spin, June 1989

Cindy Lee Berryhill, a bowl of musical trailmix, left California for New York. But she brought a lot of folklore with her. ...

Buddy Holly: Down the Line: Buddy Holly

Retrospective by Mark Kemp, Texas Music, January 2009

WHEN THE FIRST gentle notes ring from Buddy Holly's acoustic guitar on his cover of Mickey & Sylvia's 'Dearest', you could swear it was recorded ...

Lenny Kravitz: Circus

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, September 1995

IN THE TITLE TRACK of Lenny Kravitz's new album, the singer struggles with the dictates of reality that come to bear on fantasy. "Welcome to ...

John Lennon: The Vulnerable Beatle: John Lennon's Narrative-like Solo Catalog Tailor-made for Digital Delivery

Retrospective by Mark Kemp, Paste, October 2007

ONE OF THE MORE telling songs in John Lennon's solo catalog is the tender 'Look at Me.' Not the well-scrubbed version on his first album, ...

Lynyrd Skynyrd: On Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ed King, and Trayvon Martin

Letters by Mark Kemp, Rock and Rap Confidential, July 2013

JUST WANTED to let you folks at RRC know that Ed King, ostensibly one of the more enlightened original members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and a former member ...

Meat Puppets Saved By Show Biz

Profile and Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, July 1995

IT WAS LIKE A MIRAGE. The Meat Puppets ambled onstage at the KROQ Christmas Party last December, and nearly every member of the largely teenaged ...

Thurston Moore: Psychic Hearts

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, June 1995

THURSTON MOORE has said that although he's flattered when younger bands cite Sonic Youth as an influence, it would be nice if the group were ...

Morrissey: Inside Looking In

Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, May 1991


My Bloody Valentine: Beauty In The Beast

Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, March 1992

WELCOME TO "God's Own Country," as a Texas politician recently decribed his home on the range, "where the grass grows tall and the wind blows ...

Phil Ochs: Pioneers: Phil Ochs

Retrospective by Mark Kemp, Texas Music, Spring 2009

WHEN CONVERSATION turns to the great lyricists of the '60s and '70s, Bob Dylan's name invariably comes first. Then maybe John Lennon, Neil Young, Bob ...

Yoko Ono Reconsidered

Profile and Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, July 1992

LIVING WELL may be the best revenge, but vindication is just as sweet. In Yoko Ono's case, the payback is that while many of her ...

Pavement: Wowee Zowee

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, February 1998

WHAT DOES A defiantly anti-corporate rock band do when it starts getting too much attention? In Pavement's case, they recoil. ...

The Pixies: Democracy Cuban Style

Profile and Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, January 1991

"OH, DON'T print this," Black Francis says, in a gentle voice, catching himself midway through a tell-all about a one-time Spider From Mars. ...

Public Enemy: Hank Shocklee: Turntable Terrorist

Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, May 1991

WHEN NEW YORK hiphop filtered down from Harlem and the Bronx into the suburbs of Long Island around the turn of the last decade, a ...

R.E.M.: New Adventures In Hi-Fi (Warner Bros.) **** ½

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, September 1996

New Day Rising: R.E.M. make a great new album in the face of disaster ...

Radiohead: Pablo Honey, The Bends, OK Computer (reissues)

Retrospective by Mark Kemp, Paste, March 2009

WHILE THE BRITISH PRESS argued over whether Oasis' Definitely Maybe or Blur's Parklife would be the savior of mid-'90s U.K. rock, Radiohead sneaked a spanner ...

The Rolling Stones: Bridges To Babylon (Virgin) ****

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, October 1997

ON THEIR last two albums, the Rolling Stones proved that they still had verve and stamina, and that they could re-create the sounds of their ...

Jessica Simpson: Gone Country: On Jessica Simpson's Nashville Conversion

Comment by Mark Kemp, Texas Music, January 2009

ASIDE FROM HIP-HOP, country music is the most wildly popular musical style people love to hate. The Bottle Rockets once wrote a song about a ...

Uncle Tupelo: Anodyne

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, December 1993

BEFORE UNCLE TUPELO'S No Depression sneaked out of Belleville, Ill., in 1990, the respective sounds of Sonic Youth and Lynyrd Skynyrd probably never occupied a ...

Tom Waits: Weird Science

Interview by Mark Kemp, Harp, December 2006 To strike (someone or something) with a sharp blow; slap.2. Slang: To kill deliberately; murder.n.1. A sharp, swift blow.2. The sound made by a ...

List of genre pieces

Rap and Rebellion

Comment by Mark Kemp, Option, July 1992

"We have been more unified in the last four days than we have been in the last 30 years...To the brothers and sisters out there: ...

Sampling: Name That Tune

Report by Mark Kemp, Option, May 1989

"You see you misunderstood A sample's just a tactic. It's a portion of my method, A tool in fact. It's only of importance When I ...

The New Southern Rock

Book Excerpt by Mark Kemp, Novello Festival Press, April 2008

Essay published in music anthology: Wicker, Ann, ed., Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas. Charlotte, NC: Novello Festival Press, April 2008. ISBN: 0615159699 ...

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