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Wednesday, January 4, 2012





NASHVILLE, TN – Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues, the new 90-minute documentary by famed music filmmaker Robert Mugge (, and an accompanying live CD produced by slide guitar master Ted Drozdowski, will be released as a special 2-disc CD/DVD set March 20 on VizzTone Records. The film and the CD both spotlight Drozdowski's Nashville-based band Scissormen (, and as a prelude to this joint release, the band will perform a special showcase on February 2 at B.B. King's in Memphis during the International Blues Challenge competition.

Big Shoes was produced during Scissormen's tour of the Midwest in February 2010 and is part road movie, part concert film, part history lesson, and part state-of-the-genre report. The film's central performance was shot and recorded at the Key Palace Theater in Redkey, Indiana. Additional live music and interviews were captured at the Slippery Noodle Inn in Indianapolis, Indiana; the Starr-Gennett Foundation in Richmond, Indiana; Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana (where filmmaker Mugge serves as an Endowed Chair Professor); and the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland Ohio. Still more interviews were shot at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum in Cleveland. For an 18 1/2-minute preview of the movie and a look at the CD/DVD liner notes, please use this link:

The movie premiered at the Starz Denver International Film Festival and was previewed at sea on the West Coast Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. After these initial screenings, the film continued on to other prestigious festivals and was shown at various cultural institutions, including Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Scissormen are led by renowned guitarist and music journalist Ted Drozdowski, and Matt Snow on drums and percussion. Both the film and the album feature original Scissormen drummer R.L. Hulsman and were made during a tour that reunited him and Drozdowski. Berklee College of Music graduate Matt Snow joined Scissormen full-time in November 2010 after the film was shot, relocating to the band’s Nashville home base to pursue his love of Mississippi grooves and to join Drozdowski in forging a shared vision of deeply rooted contemporary American music. Their latest release showcases the band’s contemporary take on Mississippi delta and hill country based blues. The late Memphis/Mississippi music icon Jim Dickinson offered this take on the band’s distinctive, tradition-steeped roots sound: “Ever wonder what would have happened if Bukka White had discovered the fuzztone? Scissormen play blues for the 21st century.”

Among the new songs debuted in the15 tracks on Big Shoes CD are the movie’s title track, which Scissormen frontman Drozdowski describes as a “blues protest number.” The tune is also a musical journey, starting with basic country blues licks and traveling to a place were the sounds of Africa, the late Junior Kimbrough and Pink Floyd are equally at home. Another new entry is “R.L. Burnside,” a true story of a night Drozdowski spent with the musical mentor who inspired him to found the band 10 years ago performed as an electric country blues. And there’s “Delta Train,” a ghost story set to a riveting Mississippi stomp. Four songs appear on the DVD that are not on the CD disc; and three songs on the CD do not appear on the DVD.

Ted Drozdowski has been on the American blues scene for 30 years. He began writing about the music in the early 1980s and received the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive Award” for Journalism in 1998. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Guitar World, Musician and dozens of other publications. He has also consulted on film projects including 2000’s Martin Scorsese Presents: the Blues PBS-TV series.

All the while he was also an active musician, and along the way he developed a stunning and unique command of slide guitar playing that straddles the provinces of Elmore James and the late jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock, another of Drozdowski’s mentors. He toured and made a live album with beat poet and activist John Sinclair, and co-wrote songs with Ronnie Earl that the blues guitar virtuoso cut with Irma Thomas and Kim Wilson. More recently Drozdowski produced Peter Parcek 3’s 2010 The Mathematics of Love, which received a Blues Music Awards nomination for Best Debut Album.

“I deeply loved blues all that time,” Drozdowski says, “but I believe an artist has to bring something of their own to the table and I just couldn’t find my own voice in trying to play Chicago, Texas or the other prevalent styles. When I started traveling to north Mississippi in the early ’90s and won the friendship of R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Jessie Mae Hemphill, slowly a door started to open. As a player, R.L. eventually had to almost shove me through it, but when he did I started to grasp that this was what I was supposed to do with my life.

“What’s wild is that I made my first trip to Junior’s juke joint to hear him and R.L. — who weren’t touring much yet — after seeing Robert Mugge’s film Deep Blues, where their performances blew my mind. So now, being in Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues brings me full circle. And blows my mind!”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Filmmaker Robert Mugge has...established himself as the cinema’s foremost music documentarian.” Over the past three-and-a-half decades, Mugge has made dozens of music-related films and TV series, including such acclaimed documentaries as Gospel According to Al Green, Deep Blues, Pride and Joy: The Story of Alligator Records, Hellhounds on My Trail: The Afterlife of Robert Johnson, Last of The Mississippi Jukes, Saxophone Colossus (starring Sonny Rollins), New Orleans Music in Exile, Blues Divas, Deep Sea Blues, The Kingdom of Zydeco and All Jams On Deck. Big Shoes was produced by Mugge and his partner Diana Zelman, and the film's central performance was recorded and mixed by Mugge's Ball State colleague Stan Sollars.

“As the film's title suggests, my primary goal with this film was to demonstrate how Ted simultaneously honors the past masters of blues while also seeking to extend their remarkable legacy,” says Robert Mugge in the album’s liner notes. “Like our late friend and major influence Robert Palmer - known best as the author of the extraordinary book Deep Blues and collaborator with me on the film of the same name - Ted does this both as a perceptive journalist and as a powerful performer. I believe you'll find ample evidence of both on the DVD, assuming it doesn't spontaneously combust on its way to your player. I say that because, yes, above all else, the playing of Scissormen is simply incendiary.”

Scissormen will tour extensively in support of Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues.

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