Desperate Man Blues: Discovering The Roots of American Music
The Story of Joe Bussard
By James Calemine
Desperate Man Blues tells the story of Fonotone Records founder Joe Bussard. For over 50 years, Bussard has collected rare records by traveling to Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Maryland. An avid collector of 78s, Bussard remains a tireless seeker of “America’s real music”.
This DVD and soundtrack contains songs by artists such as Lonnie Johnson, Son House, Blind Willie McTell, The Carter Family, Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton and many others in this documentary.
The original 2003 film won Best Documentary at the Dendy Awards and Winner of Film Critics Circle of Australia Award. This DVD, issued by archivists at Dust-To-Digital, contains 40 extra minutes—titled “King of the Record Collectors”—of additional footage.
Joe Bussard deserves this documentary because it preserves his legacy and his never-ending search for Cajun, bluegrass, blues, country, gospel and jazz music. This film contains footage of rural landscapes, Son House performing as well as veritable songs straight off the 78s played in Bussard’s basement. Part detective, part musician and music fanatic; Bussard entertains the filmmakers in the basement of his Fredrick, Maryland, home which contains 25,000 rare records. This film contains footage of Bussard relaying vital historic American music facts that serve as time capsules for lost musical idioms.
Bussard calls “rock & roll” the cancer of American music. His daughter tells a story of her father’s “old school” outlook on music when one day she brought a John Lennon record home, and Joe threw the naked black disc across the yard. This DVD also provides insight to Bussard’s singular radio shows.
Desperate Man Blues emerges as a priceless documentation on one of America’s greatest musical archivists.