Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Buster Bailey, Ida Cox, The Hall Johnson Choir, Lucky Millinder, Mamie Smith
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
The real stuff from some of the blues pioneers
William E Donoghue | Healdsburg CA USA | 12/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is a mixed bag, Bessie Smith singing "St. Louis Blues" with a Choir singing behind her (She's the Queen of the blues but a choir in a bar?), rare Ida Cox and Mamie Smith footage, Big Bill Broonzy field recordings and the best of the lot: an 11 minute 1997 film of
Alex "Rice" Miller AKA Sonny Boy Willliamson II from Sweden. It's Sonny Boy at his best; twirling the harmonica dramatically, playing it like a cigar sticking out of his mouth, singing a song about JFK a few days after he died (the film was made in 1963 not 1962 as stated) and putting up with the accompaniment of Swedish jazz bassist Sture Nordin and novice guitarist Lennart Nylen.
I corresponded with Nylen and he tells me that the three of them arrived at the studio in the morning and drank heavilly at Sonny Boy's insistance until about 4:00 PM when they finally taped this session. If the accompanists are a bit imprecise in their playing, remember they probably didn't usually drink as much as Sonny Boy who could down two or three fifths of whiskey a day -- every day. Sonny Boy, always the showman shows off for the camera. He's amazing and worth watching; Bessie Smith's performance is a huge bonus to view. This is a fine accompaniment to the American Folk Blues Festival DVDs which are essential viewing.
The Blues Is The Dues, Right?
Alfred Johnson | boston, ma | 01/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have mentioned more than once over the past year of reviewing blues artists in this space that most of my favorites in my youth had already, one way or another, passed from the scene and therefore I had not been able to see them in live performances. Thus, for the most part, I know this music from records, tapes, CDs, later covers and, on occasion, from a video clip (more so now with the increases in video technology and information spread that makes this material more accessible). That is the case here with the performances of Bessie Smith in "St. Louis Woman"; Mame Smith: Ida Cox: Bill Big Broonzy: and, Sonny Boy Williamson.
Those who follow this space know that I have commented previously on Bessie "The Empress Of The Blues" Smith and the legendary "Big Bill" Broonzy. They need no further introduction here. Mame Smith and Ida Cox were working at the same time and the same milieu as Bessie Smith although off their performances here they do not challenge Bessie's claim to the Empress title. "Big Bill" here mainly does some very nice guitar work but nothing memorable. Sonny Boy Williamson, aside from that `nagging' controversy about whether or what his right name was, kind of sneaks in here with some virtuoso harmonica performances. However, what you want to get this video for is Bessie singing "St. Louis Woman" in this short black and white clip from 1929. This is the old tale of a "fancy" man doing his woman wrong and she can't break his spell. Not even by singing the blues. Watch this thing. It is incredible. Then you will know why she was the Empress.