‘I Am a Blues': Film Review

Daniel Cross’ doc plays fly on a wall with Southern blues performers who aren’t as famous as they should be.

A rambling, unobtrusive strain documentary done in a suggestion of Alan Lomax and Les Blank, Daniel Cross’ I Am a Blues tags along by Mississippi and Louisiana as aged performers barter songs and recollections with any other. Bobby Rush is a closest thing to a domicile name here, yet connoisseurs will be only as happy to see Lazy Lester, Barbara Lynn, and others, many still in excellent voice. It’s not a kind of prolongation that begs widespread arthouse play. But as a doc tours a nation in melodramatic bookings, it will be tenderly welcomed by lovers of strain that hasn’t had a severe edges sanded away.

Rush is a mobile beam here, articulate from a driver’s chair as we journey down toward a crawfish boil in Louisiana, yet Jimmy “Duck” Holmes plays an equal purpose by staying in one place: He’s been manager for 4 decades of a cinder-block shed called a Blue Front Cafe, pronounced to be a oldest juke corner in Mississippi. Anyone not certain what creates a “juke joint” will be edified here, as we’re treated to both stories of a Chitlin’ Circuit’s heyday and scenes of reduction orderly present-day spree — with a handful of congregation dancing in midday to whomever picks adult a guitar to play.

With a difference of a unison seen quickly during a film’s unequivocally end, no opening here seems to have been orderly for a profitable public. There’s a infrequent disturb to some of a unpretentious personification we witness: R.L. Boyce, sitting on an amp in a front yard, contributes some of a best moments, with buddies on harmonica and a singular drum jumping in when they feel like it. Others spend some-more time swapping memories: L.C. Ulmer, for instance, gets a giggle recalling how even a fearsome Howlin’ Wolf was “scared of Jimmy Reed.”

As a film shifts concentration to that crawfish boil/old-timers’ reunion (presumably orderly for a doc’s benefit, yet it feels unforced) we get some some-more required yet no reduction beguiling storytelling. Carol Fran recalls a one-night mount that desirous her strain “Emmit Lee,” ripping adult as she listens to a single’s final notes; Texan Barbara Lynn demonstrates a surprising approach she uses her ride while personification electric guitar. Talking about a themes and tropes of blues lyrics, somebody tosses off a pleasing regard that “the Devil got blamed for a lotta things he didn’t have nothin’ to do with.”

The film’s speakers spasmodic hold on a amicable realities that gave birth to and are reflected in Blues music, yet creation clarity of that large design isn’t unequivocally this movie’s point. Somewhat formless (in an beguiling way) and lacking any clever account throughline, this medium yet profitable request resonates easily with a matter nearby a end: “Let me tell we somethin’. A lotta times, it ain’t good, it ain’t bad. It’s what we have.”


Production company: Eye Steel Film

Director-Screenwriter: Daniel Cross

Producer: Bob Moore

Executive producers: Mila Aung-Thwin, Daniel Cross

Director of photography: John Price

Editor: Ryan Mullins

Venue: Quad Cinema


106 minutes

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