New documentary celebrates the Delta’s surviving blues scene
(CLARKSDALE, MS) – A critically acclaimed new film celebrating the raw, raucous spirit of Mississippi's surviving blues scene will have its film festival premiere on
Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Oxford Film Festival in Oxford, Miss. The film, M for
Mississippi: A Road Trip through the Birthplace of the Blues, follows two blues
producers – Roger Stolle of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art and Jeff Konkel of
Broke & Hungry Records – on a weeklong journey across Mississippi visiting a dozen of the state’s most fascinating blues figures in rustic environments ranging from juke joints to cotton fields.
"We planned this road-trip movie for two years," said Stolle. "We avoided big concert stages and rock-star narrators in favor of intimate house parties and rockin' Delta juke joints. We hope the results speak for themselves."
M for Mississippi, which was filmed in spring 2008, is a co-production of Broke &
Hungry Records, Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art and Mudpuppy Recordings. The motion picture follows Konkel and Stolle as they travel the dusty highways and byways of Mississippi, calling on such seminal blues figures as James "T-Model" Ford, Robert "Wolfman" Belfour, Terry "Harmonica" Bean, Wesley "Junebug" Jefferson, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, Pat Thomas, L.C. Ulmer, Robert "Bilbo" Walker and more.
Joining Stolle and Konkel on the journey were filmmaker Damien Blaylock and co-producer Kari Jones of Mudpuppy Recordings. Recording engineer Bill Abel followed in his weathered Volvo station wagon packed with recording equipment. Over the next week, the tiny caravan traversed the state of Mississippi visiting some of the state's most original blues figures while the camera rolled.
The resulting film shines a long-overdue spotlight on these men, their music and the land from which the blues sprang. More than just a collection of concert performances, M for Mississippi collects the sounds, the images and the feel of both the performers and their native landscape -- an environment essential to their livelihoods and inseparable from their art.
"We aimed to capture the essence of the Delta's blues survivors and show why the
blues simply had to come from a place like Mississippi," explained Konkel.
The film festival premiere of the 94-minute M for Mississippi will be followed by Full Moon Lightnin’, another critically acclaimed documentary touching on Mississippi blue and showcasing Delta-born bluesman Floyd Lee. Fans of both blues and Southern culture are expected to attend the back-to-back screenings.
The Oxford Film Festival runs Feb. 5-8. M for Mississippi: A Road Trip
through the Birthplace of the Blues screens at the Oxford Film Festival (Malco 2
Theater) on that Saturday at 3:45 p.m. Full Moon Lightnin' screens at 5:20 p.m.
"We're thrilled that Floyd Lee's movie is showing back to back with M for
Mississippi since Floyd, John Gardiner [the director] and the crew are all friends
of ours," said Stolle. "Between our two films, attendees should get an excellent
idea of the state of real-deal, Mississippi-born blues in the 21st Century."
M for Mississippi also is available on DVD along with a companion CD soundtrack.
The DVD's bonus features include deleted/extended scenes, closed captioning, behind the scenes footage and more. The DVD and CD can be ordered at the film's official Web site, www.mformississippi.com. Retail store distribution is handled by
Burnside Distribution Corp.
Primary sponsors for M for Mississippi include the Roots & Blues Association of
Italy, LiveBluesWorld.com, the Mississippi Film Office and Delta Music Experience.
For more information about M for Mississippi, visit www.mformississippi.com. For more information on Full Moon Lightnin', go to www.fullmoonlightnin.com. For more information on the Oxford Film Festival, go to www.oxfordfilmfest.com.