Up until now, the definitive blues documentary had to be Deep Blues, The Robert Palmer vehicle that took us all deep into the Delta on a ride we would never forget. Now comes a simple awesome chronicle of the blues genre, Blues Story, told by the people who lived the life and made the music.
The film is full of live interview segments, priceless commentary from folks like BB. King, Koko Taylor, R.L. Burnside, Charles Brown, Little Milton, Honeyboy Edwards, Pinetop Perkins, and so many, many others.
Othar Turner talks about Mississippi: Fife & Drum and B.B. King expounds on hard times and working a plow for 30 cents a day. Snooky Pryor and Ruth Brown get down to brass tacks about real blues, and we learn (at long last!) the true facts about Sonny Boy Williamson, and Sonny Boy #2.
The documentary is divided into sections like “Blues Pioneers,” - folks like BLind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Blake ( a favorite underground cartoonist R. Crumb), and Charley Patton would influence everyone from Jorma Kaukonen to Toy Caldwell to the Stones. Memphis Blues, Delta Blues, Chicago BLues, where we hear all about Buddy Guy’s 1960-67 stint as house guitarist for Chess Records.
We go inside Bettie’s Place, a Mississippi Juke joint, and listen as Ruth Brown talks about segregation at dances.
Many live performances highlight the DVD including, Koko Taylor doing her biggest hit, “Wang Dang Doodle,” and Magic Slim & The Teardrops rocking in Omaha, Nebraska. (Slim moved to nearby Lincoln several years ago from Chicago after falling in love with the area and Lincoln’s Zoo Bar).
What “Blues Story” is, is one of the finest blues documentaries ever made. A must have for any blues lover.
-Michael Buffalo Smith