(CLARKSDALE) – M FOR MISSISSIPPI, the new documentary celebrating the raw, raucous spirit of Mississippi’s surviving blues scene, is now available on DVD, along with a companion CD soundtrack.
The film follows blues producers Jeff Konkel of Broke & Hungry Records and Roger Stolle of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art 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.
M FOR MISSISSIPPI features such well-known blues figures at T-Model Ford, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Robert Belfour and Robert “Bilbo” Walker along with lesser-known but equally talented artists including Pat Thomas, L.C. Ulmer and Cadillac John Nolden.
"Most music documentaries today rely heavily on overused file footage or new shots from big clubs and festivals. Our film isn't about all that,” Stolle said. “It's about capturing a disappearing music and culture as it really is – in the juke joints, cotton fields and house parties of Mississippi. Our project isn't about the big names. It's about the names you need to know – whether it's an 80-year-old guitarist you've never heard of or a juke owner who just doesn't give a damn."
The filmmakers admitted to a sense of urgency in getting the film made. “The sad fact of the matter is that you couldn’t make this film a decade from now,” Konkel said. “When you talk about young Delta blues artists, you’re talking about guys in their fifties. Many of the artists in this film are well past 80. They’re the last living link to a rapidly vanishing blues tradition. We’ll always have blues, but it won’t be like this. This film aims to celebrate this music and the musicians while they’re still here and can benefit from the exposure.”
In addition to their roles in front of the camera, Stolle and Konkel are among the film’s producers.
This is Stolle’s second film project, falling on the heels of his acclaimed documentary Hard Times, which documented the life and music of bluesman Big George Brock. Stolle’s label Cat Head Presents also has released three acclaimed CDs on Brock, including most recently Live at Seventy Five, which is nominated for a 2008 Blues Music Award in the “Traditional Album of the Year” category. Stolle also is owner of the celebrated Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art store in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Earlier this year he received a prestigious “Keeping the Blues Alive” award from the Blues Foundation.
Konkel is the owner of Broke & Hungry Records, a label dedicated to promoting and recording raw blues from Mississippi. His work netted him Producer of the Year recognition in the 2007 Living Blues Awards. To date, his label has issued four acclaimed records, including two on Bentonia, Mississippi blues guitarist Jimmy “Duck” Holmes. Holmes’ most recent CD, Done Got Tired of Tryin’ is nominated for Acoustic Album of the Year for the 2008 Blues Music Awards. This spring Broke & Hungry released The World Must Never Know, the debut-recordings of a mysterious 78-year-old blues guitarist from the Delta.
M FOR MISSISSIPPI also benefits from the contributions of co-producer Kari Jones whose Mudpuppy Recordings will recently launched with a bang with the release of jack daniel time, a new record by legendary Delta bluesman James “T-Model” Ford.
Behind the camera and editing desk is filmmaker Damien Blaylock, whose past projects include the documentary Hard Times, the Big George Brock documentary. Blaylock’s forthcoming projects involve actor/musician Steven Seagal and also include Super Chikan: Child of the Delta and Blind Faith, a documentary on blues sculptor Sharon McConnell.
Mississippi blues guitarist Bill Abel was brought on as the project’s sound engineer. Abel’s past engineering efforts include critically acclaimed offerings by T-Model Ford, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Odell Harris, Terry “Big T” Williams, Wesley “Junebug” Jefferson and several of Abel’s own recordings.
For more information on the movie and it’s accompanying CD soundtrack, contact Jeff Konkel at firstname.lastname@example.org or Roger Stolle at email@example.com.