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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label Memphis Blues Festival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Memphis Blues Festival. Show all posts

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Deep Blues - Blues Documentary


This superb documentary vividly illustrates the enduring vitality of country blues, an idiom that most mainstream music fans had presumed dead or, at best, preserved through more scholarly tributes when filmmaker Robert Mugge and veteran blues and rock writer Robert Palmer embarked on their 1990 odyssey into Mississippi delta country. What Arkansas native and former Memphis stalwart Palmer knew, and Mugge captured on film, was that the blues was not only alive but still intimately woven into the daily lives of rural blacks.

Palmer, a former rock musician and Memphis Blues Festival cofounder best known for his bylines in The New York Times and Rolling Stone, had already chronicled the saga of Southern blues in his seminal book that provides the film's title. He's an astute guide, and Mugge underlines this role by pairing him with British rocker Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), whose avid interest in the music makes him an effective foil.

The film's real triumph, however, rests in the team's success in capturing modern day blues survivors and inheritors playing in the bars, juke joints, and barns of delta country. Palmer, who had returned several years earlier to the delta to capture these artists for his scrappy Fat Possum label, introduces us to the now-amplified but still elemental blues of R.L. Burnside, the late Junior Kimbrough, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes, and other keepers of the faith. Mugge, whose profiles of Al Green, Sonny Rollins, and other musicians probed their cultural and artistic contexts with intelligence and sensitivity, captures both the music and the milieu in crisp color footage. Deep Blues thus triumphs as a testament to the blues' deep roots and an unintentional eulogy for Palmer, who would pass away in the mid-'90s just as the gut-bucket music of Burnside and Kimbrough served notice that the blues were alive and kicking.
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