I really thought I knew the blues well, that is until I watched this
fantastic documentary Last of the Mississippi Jukes on the roots and
culture based genre of music. Even though most music comes from that
wellspring of humanity, the blues has a long and colorful history
unlike any other. I had previously enjoyed the CD soundtrack of this
project; little did I know there was so much more. I had a feeling
the DVD would be quite interesting after hearing the CD and the story behind it.
There is a strength and commonality amongst the cultural phenomena
called Juke Joints. It has an unusual bond with its artists and audience.
Although the performers are generally black, white musicians have
gravitated more to the style of music over the years as well, gradually
pushing the style to become multiracial. The audiences are certainly
full of folks from all sorts of lifestyles and cultures making the
experiences at a live event all that much more interesting socially.
They all gather at these places because they love the blues. You leave
any preconceptions or prejudices at the door before taking your seat.
What you get on this DVD is commentary from people and artists that
grew up around this art form. You will come to know the people and
the music through their stories and commentary. Although the music
it is not plentiful, there is enough to give you an idea what all
the people are talking about. If you want purely the audio tracks
in their entirety, I would suggest getting the CD, having both the
DVD and CD is the only way to go though.
There is old black and white footage of the racial suffrage the blacks
endured for many years in the south and how the idea of the juke joint
first started with folks that worked in the cotton fields and they
would gather outside to sing, dance, eat, and drink the day and night
away. That is how it all began. Noted blues historian Dick Waterman
is on hand to add his expertise during the interview sections as well.
Many of the juke joints are old and falling apart. People are fighting
to keep these places standing because the aura and mystique of the
music and culture lives inside the buildings; it is not something
tangible nor duplicated if you decide to build a new site rather than
restoring what is already there. If a new building takes the place
of the old one it has to build its own history and memories, and that
is something you simple cannot manufacture, it comes from inside the
people and the musicians that populate the rooms of the jukes. Folks
are working very hard to restore these monuments to the blues and
its followers and it is a noble cause indeed.
This DVD is not only a documentary to a music and culture it is story
about Americans and how important these places are to our heritage.
If you love this music then you need to get this DVD and to find out
what the blues really is. If you think you know the blues just by
listening, think again, and then get this DVD, you will have an entirely