I am still going strong on day eight of SXSW as I manage to fit in some live music and a couple of documentaries today. In stopped by the Canadian showcase of talent at the bar called Friends on 6th St and listened to a couple of cool bands hey. Nice mix of rock and country by our friends up north.
The first documentary for the day was Born in Chicago, about the passing down of the blues from one generation to another. The Chicago blues in the 1960s and young white musicians headed to the other side of the tracks to learn at the feet of the masters - Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, BB King and Buddy Guy. It is the same old story of the music only being recognised on a broader scale once white musicians bring it to the rest of the world. Thankfully there was Chess Records in Chicago that was releasing these artists such as Muddy Waters and Hownlin' Wolf, otherwise these local white musicians and the up and coming British bands such as The Rolling Stones (who took their name from a Muddy Waters song), The Yardbirds and The Animals would not have heard the music and come in search of the masters of blues. As a result we got the globalisation of the blues with bands such as The Butterfield Band, The Electric Flag and artists such as Bob Dylan and Canned Heat feeling the influence of these young white musicians from Chicago. The film focuses on guitarist Mike Bloomfield, harmonica player and vocalist Paul Butterfield, pianist Nick Gravenites, harmonica player Elvin Bishop, pianist Barry Goldberg, harmonica player,Charlie Musselwhite, harmonica and piano player Corky Siegel and guitarist Jim Schwall and how they found the blues, went in search of the great players to learn from and what influence they had on the blues. What is interesting about this film is that Bloomfield and Butterfield are both talked of as master musicians and are revered,however film just lists the date of each man's death in the 1980s. I had to go and find out that Mike Bloomfield destroyed himself with heroin and died of an overdose in 1981 at the age of 38 and Paul Butterfield died of a drug related heart attack in 1987 at the age of 45.
I then went on to see Milius, a documentary on the film maker John Milius, the contemporary of Steven Speilberg and George Lucas and the writer of Apocalypse Now, Dirty Harry, Conan The Barbarian, Big Wednesday and Red Dawn (the first one), and self styled zen anarchist. This documentary tells the story of his life, films, influences, politics, the man, the myth and most importantly the storyteller. Very interesting. He was so controversial in Hollywwod that at one time the only work her could get was script doctoring. This is the man who wrote these lines