Sideman: Long Road To Glory Film portrays legendary blues sidemen
On some of the greatest Chicago Blues albums you will find their names on the backside of your record. Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin and Willie “big eyes” Smith were the backbone of the best blues bands around. They made history as sidemen alongside Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf in the 50s, 60s and 70s. and now these legends are featured in documentary film SIDEMEN – Long Road To Glory.
Legendary Sideman of Muddy and Wolf
In the documentary artist like Bonnie Riatt recall that Hubert Sumlin’, Pinetop Perkins and Willie Smith were actually too big to be called sidemen and she is right. All these guys recorded multiple records, received Grammy awards, were inducted into the Rock nd Roll hall of fame and played the blues over more than sixty years. But it is amazing to see that their is a movie dedicated to not the blues bandleaders but the backing bandmembers.
You know Texas bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins mostly for his slow blues songs like ‘Mojo Hand’, but in ‘The Jake-head Boogie’ we meet Hopkins in another way. This song is fast, swings and is full of boogie rhythms.
It will take days to get through Lightnin’ Hopkins repertoire. He recorded for various labels like Arhoolie and Aladdin formed by the Messner Brothers in L.A, but over time you will discover more and more Lightnin’ songs that blow you away, and one of them is the Jake Head Boogie. It is one of the cool things about discovering the world of blues. That’s how I see it.
Lightnin’ Hopkins Jake-head Boogie
People have learned how to strum a guitar, but they don’t have the soul. They don’t feel it from the heart. It hurts me. I’m killin’ myself to tell them how it is. – Lightnin’ Hopkins –
Doo-Wop group formed in State Penitentiary Tennessee
About The Prisonaires you could write multiple books, even make a movie that shows more action than you see nowadays. As their name suggests, this doo-wop group was formed while each member was in the State Penitentiary, Tennessee, USA. The founding member was lead singer Johnny Bragg.
While in prison the group was paraded around a variety of receptions and civic functions as demonstration of the jail’s enlightened rehabilitation programme. Back in the day they played a mix of blues, gospel and pop songs under armed guard. It was the new warden James E. Edwards who arranged two talent scouts from Sam Phillips’ Sun Records to see the group. They were subsequently driven down to Memphis in June 1953 to record a song written by Bragg and fellow inmate Robert Riley, “Just Walkin’ In The Rain”. (source Sun Records)
Formed while serving 594 years
The Prisonaires were formed when Bragg joined up with two prison gospel singers, Ed Thurman and William Stewart (each of whom was doing 99 years for murder), and two new penitentiary arrivals, John Drue Jr. (three years for larceny) and Marcell Sanders (one-to-five for involuntary manslaughter).
About the life and legacy of the Prisonaires Cass Paley made a beautiful documentary which includes interviews with Sam Phillips Jonny Bragg. and warden James E. Edwards. A thing you probably did not know about Bragg was his training technique by putting a bucket on his head, to enlarge the echo of his voice. It gained him the Nickname “Buckethead”.
Director – Producer Cass Paley
Filmmaker and director Cass Paley is president of Cassel Productions, an independent, full-service production company that has produced numerous documentaries for American television and international broadcast over the past 20 years, including the Saga of Western Man series for ABC television and the Emmy Award winning National Geographic special, Journey to the Outer Limits.
You might know Paley as the archivist for the Roy Orbison Estate and has produced three DVD projects: Austin City Limits Concert, Roy Orbison’s Greatest Hits, and The 1973 Australian Concert.
I can highly recommend this documentary to all roots, blues and doo-wpo lovers. I have watched in any case with a whole lot of pleasure.
Fiind out more about ‘The Prisonares Documentary’ on Facebook and the official Website.
The Documentary about “The Prisonaires”. The Prisonaires were a vocal singing group in the 1950’s made up of incarcerated inmates serving time at the maximum penal facility in Nashville, Tennessee. The Prisonaires recorded several tracks at the now famous Sun Records and several hit songs including “Just Walkin in the Rain”. Johnny Bragg and Sam Phillips brought the vocal perfection of The Prisonaires to the public through very extraordinary measures and difficult political times. Thanks to the ernest efforts of then Governor Clement’s prison reform, The Prisonaires forever changed the landscape of music history.”
Willie Dixon is the man who changed the style of the blues. As a songwriter and producer, the man was a genius. If you wanted a hit song, you went to Willie Dixon. Played it like he said play it, and sing it like he said sing it, and you damn near always had a hit. Willie Dixon taught bass players how to rock ‘n’ roll.
Listen to him on Chuck Berry’s Chess recordings of “Rock and Roll Music,”and “Reelin’ and Rockin”. He took big band music and Mississippi blues and melded them into something new, opening the door for Motown and others to walk in and take it even further.
Britain played a huge part in the revival of the blues in the sixties. Bands like the Rolling Stones,The Animals, John Mayall and Cream all inspired by blues discovered this great genre back in the fifties. Where was this music comming from? What does all that slang lyrics mean? and what is a Howlin’ Wolf or a Muddy Water. All these question are answered in the fantastic documentary by How Britain Got The Blues by BBC 4.
“Was it the drabness of post-war austerity or the influx of blues records coming across by boat? Whatever, this is a film that any blues lover should watch. Featuring the likes of Muddy Waters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Chris Barber and Paul Jones, this tells the story of how Britain got the Blues and shipped it back to the States.”
Watch the Documentary here:
Second part of this brilliant film, showing how young Brits fell for the blues and changed the face of popular music forever.
Third Part of this brilliant documentary about the British blues boom of the 1960s. Featuring the Yardbirds,the Animals,Manfred Mann and the Pretty Things.
Part four of this excellent film deals with the period when American blues artists started to tour Britain. Some great stories from Paul Jones, Val Wilmer, Micke Fleetwood and others about their meetings with Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Jesse Fuller and Sonny Boy Williamson.
Part 5 shows hoe the second wave of blues purists, lead by Eric Clapton, rebelled against the bands with their eyes on the main chance. Featuring Jimmy Reed, Fleetwood Mac,The Yardbirds,The Pretty Things, The Bluesbreakers,Cream,Eric Clapton and others.
The final part shows groups like Cream and Led Zeppelin turned up their amps and moved from clubs to large stadiums overnight.