A Tribute to Real Blues Heritage
Shannon Riley | Mississippi | 11/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"JUKE JOINT, You Can Never Go Home Again
A film by Chris Thomas King
21st Century Blues Films, LLC, 2005
Program running time: 60 minutes
Directed by Chris Thomas King
Produced by Bradly Lathem, Patrick Lemy and Chris Thomas King
Documentary: Music and Performing Arts
Juke Joint, You Can Never Go Home Again, filmed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2005, commemorates Grammy Award-winning blues artist and actor Chris Thomas King's twentieth year as a blues guitar pioneer and innovator. The film was released following the loss of Mr. King's New Orleans home to Hurricane Katrina.
This outstanding film focuses on his father's historic blues club, Tabby's Blues Box and Heritage Hall, one of the South's last remaining authentic juke joints, closed by the city to make way for a railroad overpass.
In scenes shot only days before the club is bulldozed in the name of progress, Mr. King relates the history of Tabby's Blues Box, established in the 1970s, where blues lovers of all races and backgrounds could come together in peace to share a common interest.
Viewers are invited inside and treated to the simple elegance of a candlelit solo performance by this amazing artist.
Mr. King performs:
"KKKrossroads" (from his CD 21st Century Blues...from da 'Hood)
"Alive" (Red Mud Sessions)
"Wanna Die With a Smile on My Face" (Cry of the Prophets)
"Red Mud" (Red Mud Sessions)
"John Law" (The Legend of Tommy Johnson)
"Come on in My Kitchen" (Me, My Guitar and the Blues)
"Rambling on My Mind" (Red Mud Sessions)
"Me, My Guitar and the Blues" (Me, My Guitar and the Blues)
"Soon this Morning Blues" (Red Mud Sessions)
"Redemption Song" (previously unreleased)
Also included are clips from the Mardi Gras Ball, 29th Industry Appreciation, Blues on Parade, where his father, Tabby Thomas, is honored. However, painfully obvious is the fact that Mr. Thomas's famous club was targeted for destruction for no good reason, and words of praise were poor compensation for his loss.
Juke Joint's bonus features include three Chris Thomas King music videos, "Wanna Die with a Smile on My Face," Waiting Impatiently," and "Kickin' True Blue," which I will come back to in a moment.
Another special bonus feature is Mr. King's incredible performance of "Revelations," produced by Martin Scorsese at the "Year of the Blues" concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. With gigantic photographs of Son House forming a slideshow backdrop, Mr. King's dynamic vocals on the Robert Johnson song "If I had Possession Over Judgment Day" and his moaning slide guitar, together with DJ SPIN and a sample featuring Son House combine in this breath-taking arrangement.
Also included is a never before seen interview with Mr. King in which he discusses his gift of songwriting and his musical influences, specifically those of his father, Tabby Thomas, the musicians he worked with during his youth, and the impression that hip-hop during the 1990s made upon his style. His unique blend of hip-hop, rap and blues is a natural consequence of the music he grew up hearing and enjoying.
One of the bonus videos included is Mr. King's rap/blues song "Kickin' True Blue." This is one of the most powerful and original performances I have ever seen, but the lyrics are even more compelling. He instructs his people to know their own history, "the real blues knowledge," and he relates how rock and roll, originally rhythm and blues, was commandeered by white musicians over past decades who won fame while the original artists suffered.
As Mr. King explains, blues is a cultural experience of the African American people, and as that experience changes with time, blues must also change to be relevant in today's society.