Friday, April 08, 2005

Blues Film Collection

Martin Scorsese has organised a series of seven movies, each made by a different director, documenting that director's vision of blues music. For some reason, Clint Eastwood's Piano Blues is not destined for a cinematic release, but is out on DVD. Of the six that have been released, three are being shown as part of the World Cinema Showcase in Dunedin. Missing in action are:
  • Godfathers and Sons which explores the heyday of Chicago blues and juxtaposed with contemporary hip-hop;
  • The Road to Memphis featuring BB King and other Memphis originals;
  • Warming by the Devils Fire about the director's upbringing in a religious home where blues was seen as “the devil’s music”.
First to be shown is the one directed by Martin Scorcese himself, Feel Like Going Home. In this movie, Corey Harris takes us on two journeys. The first is into the roots of the Mississippi Delta blues scene, looking at musicians like Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, Lead Belly and Muddy Waters. Good stuff, even if I had seen bits and pieces of the footage in previous movies. But then Harris shifted the action completely, by taking us to Mali, in order to demonstrate it is the source of African-American music. There, we meet and listen to snatches of music from Salif Keita, Habib Koité and Ali Farka Toure. I'm a little ashamed of this, but I actually lost track of who was who here - there was one artist with whom Corey spent quite a lot of time talking and jamming, both doing acoustic blues. I think it was Ali Farka Toure. The point of this particular jam was that they were both playing their guitars, playing the same tune - but they'd switch singing duties. Harris would do some of a John Lee Hooker number (such as Catfish Blues) but then Toure would cut in with a song of his own, but to the same music.

I'll update when I have seen the other two.


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