Tuesday, November 17, 2009

HUM 223: Links - and reading assignments - for 'Red, White & Blues' video

Today and Thursday we'll watch a video of the TV show "Red, White and Blues" directed by Mike Figgis. It's about how the blues traveled to the United Kingdom (mostly England) and the English bands brought it back to America. Like the other videos in Martin Scorsese's Public Broadcasting series "The Blues," it has a background Web site and - like the other videos - I'm giving you a copy of the credits so you can spell everybody's names right when you write your final exams. (Capice?) The introduction says:
During the 1960s, the UK was the location for a vibrant social revolution. London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle all had their own music scenes. Musicians from Belfast and Glasgow moved to London to be part of the club scene there.

The post-war traditional jazz and folk revival movements produced the fertile ground for a new kind of blues music — entirely influenced by the authentic black blues of the USA, and, for the most part, entirely ignored by the good citizens of the US. It was new in the sense that certain key musicians took the blues and molded it in an entirely personal way to fit the new awareness of the UK in the sixties.

Importantly, for the most part they continued to pay homage to the originators of the music and to make a huge global audience aware of the likes of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Freddie King, etc. ...
You can - and should! - read the rest for yourself.

Speaking of what you can - and should - read, there's also an interview with director Mike Figgis on the Web site. Says Figgis, who is white and who played with a British blues band for a while:
What characterized that period, which is the middle and late sixties, early seventies, was a very open attitude toward music and culture, and toward race, as well. So the idea that, for example, in a place like Britain, which was far enough removed from the problems of race as they were experienced in America and the problems with blues musicians there, you could listen to a very eclectic range of music, from, say, Ray Charles, to a guitarist like Steve Cropper, or to the Beatles, and think of them as coming from the same idea. There wasn't a wall between those cultures.
He has a lot more to say, as well. You should read it (but you already knew that). Oh, let's just make the Web site a reading assignment.

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