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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.

63 articles

By Artist | By Date

List of articles in the library by date

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. ...

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 ...

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. ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Morrissey: Inside Looking In

Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, May 1991

MANCHESTER IS 185 RAILROAD MILES NORTH OF LONDON, LINKED BY SIGNPOSTS THAT READ RUGBY, BIRMINGHAM, AND STOKE-ON-TRENT; BY SPRAWLING MISTY GREEN MEADOWS, GUSHING STREAMS, AND ...

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

Interview by Mark Kemp, Option, July 1991

CLAWING THEIR WAY INTO THE '90S, BOB MOULD & JELLO BIAFRA EXPLORE THE PERSONAL & THE POLITICAL ...

Morrissey: Wake Me When It's Over

Interview by Mark Kemp, Select, July 1991

The Manchester scene is press-created, shallow, turgid, "a shuddering disappointment". Dance music has destroyed everything, it's "totally shocking and revolting". You are Morrissey and 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 ...

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: ...

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 ...

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 ...

Iggy Pop: American Caesar (Virgin) ****

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 14 October 1993

IGGY POP'S LAST ALBUM, Brick by Brick (1990), seemed as if it might be his swan song — one last blast of creative juice after ...

Uncle Tupelo: Anodyne

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 9 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 ...

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 ...

Lisa Germano: Stepping Out From John Mellencamp's Shadow, Singer and Violinist Lisa Germano Hits a Nerve On Geek The Girl

Profile and Interview by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 15 December 1994

"IT DOESN'T FEEL good to be stuck," Lisa Germano says, as she surveys the opening of a dark tunnel that cuts a 30-foot passageway through ...

Thurston Moore: Psychic Hearts

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 1 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 ...

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 ...

Fugazi: Red Medicine (Dischord) ***½

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 13 July 1995

FUGAZI HAVE never been quite as one-dimensional as their critics would have it. On their first full-length album, 1990's Repeater, the D.C. quartet reinvented the ...

Lenny Kravitz: Circus

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 21 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 ...

Coolio: Paradise Found

Interview by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 14 December 1995

Coolio completes his fantastic voyage from the mean streets of Los Angeles to the top of the pop charts ...

Merle Haggard: Down Every Road (Capitol) ****

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 2 May 1996

COUNTRY'S FIGHTIN' FUGITIVE ...

Bikini Kill: Reject All American (Kill Rock Stars) ****

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 16 May 1996

ON THEIR SECOND full-length album, Bikini Kill take some surprisingly gentle turns, supplementing their fiery, bash-'em-in-the-face punk with sweetly seductive pop. ...

The Gun Club, Jeffrey Lee Pierce: Jeffrey Lee Pierce 1958-1996

Obituary by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 26 May 1996

AS THE guitarist and singer for the Gun Club, Jeffrey Lee Pierce unleashed the primal passion of the blues onto Los Angeles' thriving early '80s ...

Beck: Odelay (DGC) ****

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 13 June 1996

THE BIG QUESTION that followed the runaway success of Beck Hansen's major-label debut, Mellow Gold, was: Can this precocious child of bohemian stock survive one-hit ...

Jimmy Buffett: Q&A: Jimmy Buffett

Interview by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 22 August 1996

IT'S BEEN nearly 20 years since Jimmy Buffett bided his time wasting away in Margaritaville. Today, rock's romantic poet-pirate has become a virtual one-man theme ...

R.L. Burnside, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: R.L. Burnside: A Ass Pocket Of Whiskey (Matador) **½

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 22 August 1996

...

Sebadoh: Harmacy (Sub Pop) ***½

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 5 September 1996

FOR YEARS, the '60s-garage-style dissonance and folk-inspired melodicism of this prolific indie band have been associated with the low-fi movement. But Sebadoh really make high-risk ...

Vic Chesnutt: Famous By Association

Interview by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 9 September 1996

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

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

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 19 September 1996

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

Beck: #1 Artist of the Year: Beck

Report and Interview by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 23 January 1997

ONE NIGHT a few years ago, I was doing laundry with Beck in Los Angeles, listening to him ruminate on whether he might be a ...

David Bowie: Sound + Fisson: David Bowie: Earthling (RCA Records) ***½

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 20 February 1997

David Bowie breaks it down on his new album, Earthling ...

David Bowie: All the Young Dudes

Report and Interview by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 6 March 1997

A cast of modern rockers helps DAVID BOWIE celebrate his 50th ...

Beck: The Rolling Stone Interview

Interview by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 17 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 ...

Radiohead: OK Computer (Capitol) ****

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 10 July 1997

THE DAYS of whine and poses may be over, but don't tell that to Radiohead singer Thom Yorke. He has survived the demise of grunge ...

Coolio: My Soul (Tommy Boy) ***

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 21 August 1997

Paradise Lost ...

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan 1948-1997

Obituary by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 2 October 1997

STAR OF PAKISTAN DEAD AT 48 ...

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

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 2 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 ...

Sublime: Bradley Nowell: Life After Death

Retrospective and Interview by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 25 December 1997

Two months before the release of his band's finest album, Bradley Nowell stuck a needle in his arm and died. In the 18 months since, ...

Pavement: Wowee Zowee

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 2 February 1998

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

And Now, For Something Completely Different

Comment by Mark Kemp, Creative Loafing, 11 May 2005

HAVING SERVED as The Charlotte Observer's entertainment editor for the past two and a half years, I've often picked up the latest issue of Creative ...

Shakira: Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 (Epic)

Review by Mark Kemp, Paste, 23 August 2005

Beyond the Belly: Colombian songstress trumps lazy stereotypes with raw talent ...

Tom Waits: Weird Science

Interview by Mark Kemp, Harp, December 2006

Whackv.tr.1. 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 ...

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, ...

Dolly Parton: Backwoods Barbie **½

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone Online, 6 March 2008

NO MATTER how flamboyantly pop Dolly Parton's music became in the early Eighties, she was always a country girl at heart. ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Lightning Rod

Review by Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone, 19 February 2009

Ex-Trucker takes on heartland rock and brooding weepers. ...

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

Retrospective by Mark Kemp, Paste, 27 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 ...

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 ...

Welcome to Fez: The Sacred Music Capital of the World

Report and Interview by Mark Kemp, unpublished, 1 June 2010

"The city of Fez lies below, very slowly disengaging itself from the morning mist and smoke, while a million cocks crow at once." Paul Bowles, 1947 ...

Backstreet Boys, One Direction: Just me and the boybands…

Retrospective by Mark Kemp, Creative Loafing, 21 June 2012

IT WAS BEGINNING to get very surreal. For months we'd been broadcasting live out of a brand-new studio overlooking Times Square, first as MTV Live, ...

Madonna: Q: When will Madonna stop being relevant? A: When we stop asking if Madonna's still relevant.

Comment by Mark Kemp, Creative Loafing, 14 November 2012

WHEN MADONNA drolly announced to fans packed into the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24, that "we have a black Muslim in the ...

Madonna: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

Live Review by Mark Kemp, Creative Loafing, 16 November 2012

IF YOU WALKED away from the Madonna spectacle Thursday at Time Warner Cable Arena with only the image of the 54-year-old pop icon's ultra-fit ass ...

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

Letters by Mark Kemp, Rock and Rap Confidential, 17 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 ...

The Sonics' 'Witch' Craft: Huntersville Resident's 1960s Garage-Rock Band Invented Punk

Retrospective and Interview by Mark Kemp, Creative Loafing, 17 May 2017

WHEN MILD-MANNERED Rob Lind isn't on the links at Birkdale Golf Club with his wife Suzanne, or on his boat with his son Robbie during ...

Vadim Kolpakov, Madonna: Dance of the Roma: How a Russian Guitarist From Charlotte Wound up on Tour With Madonna

Profile and Interview by Mark Kemp, Creative Loafing, 28 March 2018

THE YEAR WAS 2008. Charlotte-based Russian guitar virtuoso Vadim Kolpakov was onstage in front of 60,000 Madonna fans packed into Park Izvor in Bucharest, Romania. ...

The Mighty Shamrocks: 'The Troubles' with Mickey: Local Singer Revisits the Wasteground of His Northern Ireland Youth

Retrospective and Interview by Mark Kemp, Creative Loafing, 16 May 2018

THE SINGER AND guitarist for the Mighty Shamrocks was packing up his gear one night after an early-'80s pub gig in the Bogside neighborhood of ...

Aretha Franklin: The First Lady: Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018

Obituary by Mark Kemp, Rock's Backpages, 16 August 2018

CHILDHOOD MEMORY: I'm ten years old and sitting on the floor in the living room of the family home in the early 1970s, vinyl albums ...

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