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 different outlook.