While the circuit relied on black media for publicity, it received much of its operating revenue through the vice industry.
Circuit pioneer Walter Barnes got his start leading the band at Al Capone’s Cotton Club, pre-Depression, when Capone was one of several underworld supporters of swing.
The vice-chitlin’ circuit correlation went two ways with Denver Ferguson. Gambling both funded his chitlin’ circuit venture and influenced its conduct. Ferguson got rich operating a numbers racket in Indianapolis, and financed his talent agency, Ferguson Bros., with the proceeds...Read More