I Am the Blues

| July 13, 2017

When I see a film about the Blues and it opens up with a guy who I know is familiar, but I just can’t put my finger on his name, I know it’s going to be a great documentary. In this case, it was the great Chicago Blues legend Bobby Rush, and I was in for a treat.

The documentary is called I Am The Blues, and Film Movement premieres this Daniel Cross’ feature-length film in New York on July 12; and it will also be available on the same day on VOD.

“Heartache never sounded so good.”- Chris Knight, National Post

“Joyful and exultant” – Molly Laich, Missoula Independent

Film Movement brings a vibrant, reverential, and nostalgic musical tour of the juke joints, back roads, and church halls of the Mississippi Delta in I Am The Blues. Diving deep into America’s last generation of Blues devils, the film takes the audience on an enthralling journey through the swamps of the Louisiana Bayou, the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta, and moonshine-soaked BBQs in North Mississippi Hill Country to visit with many unsung living legends of Blues, including 83-year old Bobby Rush – whose latest recording, “Porcupine Meat,” won him his first Grammy for Traditional Blues Album in February.

I Am The Blues highlights a generation of veteran Blues musicians rooted from the genre’s heyday, many of whom are now in their 80’s, still living in the American deep South and touring the Chitlin’ Circuit, including Barbara Lynn, Little Freddie King, Lazy Lester, Henry Gray, Carol Fran, Bilbo Walker, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, RL Boyce, LC Ulmer and Lil’ Buck Sinegal. Called a “stirring snapshot” by the Montreal Gazette, I Am The Blues is directed by award-winning writer-director Cross, a multi-disciplined filmmaker and professor who also produced the award-winning Canadian films Up The Yangtze and Last Train Home.

Rush talks about the “Chitlin’ Circuit,” which he describes first as the “bolonga circuit,” because he said one time in his early career, he was paid in sandwiches, which he split with the band members and then sold the rest on the street to make more money. I love a Blues documentary that goes deep into the rural area to show the old greats in their comfortable environs. I was treated to “off-the-cuff” jam sessions as L. C. Ulmer (now deceased) and Jimmy “Duck” Holmes discuss the good old days of the Blues.

A visit to a local club, with patrons hanging around just jamming to the music being played or the music in their heads was such a treat. There is nothing ostentatious about this documentary, and its authentic flavor makes it that more enjoyable.

Following its premiere at IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam), I Am The Blues, an Official Selection of Hot Docs Int’l Film Festival and SxSW, captured the “Best Feature-Length Documentary” and “Best Cinematography” honors at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards.

I Am The Blues opens at New York City’s Quad Cinema on July 12, and will play in select cities, including Dallas, Cleveland, Seattle, New Orleans, Austin, and Louisville. For more information, visit http://iamthebluesmovie.com/.

About Film Movement
Celebrating its 15th year, Film Movement is a North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films based in New York City.

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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