On the Road Again


A film by Sherwin Dunner and Richard Nevins.  See J.E. Mainer and His Family Band playing “Run Mountain” at about 14:30.

from http://www.yazoorecords.com:

In 1963, a camera crew went on the road in search of traditional American music that was still as vital as it had been earlier in the century. The results of this odyssey are a fascinating slice-of-life portrait of the traditional music scene in America and the culture which sustained it. Musicians were located and filmed on their home soil – in the streets, churches, roadhouses and taverns of New Orleans, Houston, Nashville, and many other locales.

It was one of the last opportunities to document vestiges of the way of life that gave traditional music its power and immediacy. The rare eloquence of the music captured here, fueled and shaped on such turf, is forever gone from the American musical landscape today.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN opens in Texas with Mance Lipscomb singing “Goin’ Down Slow” on his front porch in Navasota, then follows piano player Buster Pickens as he leads the film crew through Houston dives and pool halls looking for other musicians. They locate Lightnin’ Hopkins in a garage partaking in a game of chance, and Hop Wilson playing bluesy steel guitar in Miss Irene’s Tavern. In Dallas-Fort Worth piano player Whistlin’ Alex Moore whistles along to a rolling boogie woogie, and B.K. Turner, who recorded in the 1930s as Black Ace, plays his signature tune on lap top National steel guitar.

In San Francisco, Lowell Fulsom, one of the foremost shapers of West Coast blues is filmed, then across the Bay King Louis H. Narcisse, the spiritual leader of the Mt. Zion faith, at his Oakland temple leads his congregation in stirring gospel rockers like “Let It Shine.” Heading east, Rev. Louis Overstreet brings the gospel to the winos, gamblers, and the down and out on the streets of Tucson, Arizona.

In the shadow of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, the Blind James Campbell String Band, one of the few traditional black string bands ever filmed, plays “John Henry.” At the easternmost point of the journey, J.E. Mainer and his family band play the fiddle breakdown, “Run Mountain” in Concord, North Carolina.

Celebrated New Orleans clarinetist George Lewis is filmed at the newly opened Preservation Hall playing “Royal Garden Blues” and a plaintive version of “Burgundy Street Blues,” which is enriched by images of French Quarter street life. Piano player Sweet Emma Barrett gives a rough barrelhouse treatment to “I Ain’t Gonna give Nobody None of my Jelly Roll,” and the Eureka Brass Band plays at a funeral in the New Orleans tradition.

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