This story is structured like a traditional twelve bar blues song, with three sections each made of four chapters. It follows blues musician Lem Taylor's harrowing journey across Arkansas of the late twenties, hunted for a crime he didn't commit. He and his blues companion find a gig in a "juke" outside a small town. Their music takes it by storm leading even to a well connected man offering a recording session. However, that night, they accept the invitation of two ladies to go home with them, a fatal mistake, as one of the ladies' lover is a white man who happens to belong to a powerful bootlegging family. The result is a triple murder with only Lem and his lady friend left standing.