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The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966, Vol. 1

58 customer reviews

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(Aug 26, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Reelin’ In The Years Productions, in association with Experience Hendrix, bring you the American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 Volumes One & Two. The AFBF was an annual event that featured the cream of American blues musicians barnstorming their way across western Europe every fall from 1962 through 1966. Recorded live in a small TV studio in Germany, these historic and unseen performances have been lost for nearly 40 years. Filmed with superb camera work and pristine sound, each DVD contains 18 complete performances from the greatest blues musicians of all time. Captured during their heyday in an era of scant video documentation, these DVDs are truly one of the most unique and precious visual documents of the blues.

The American Folk Blues Festivals featured a dazzling array of talent that included such greats as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson playing alongside other legends such as T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Memphis Slim and Big Mama Thornton to create the most significant group of blues artists ever assembled!

Unearthed some 40 years after the fact, this has to be one of the finest blues collections ever assembled on video. Thanks to a couple of young promoters who brought the musicians to Europe--where they were treated with a good deal more respect and dignity than in America--we get an extraordinary lineup of bluesmen and women: Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Sippie Wallace... the list goes on. Their concert performances (several in stagy but effective down-home settings) before a rather formal but appreciative German audience have them playing in some cool combinations (T-Bone Walker backing Memphis Slim, Otis Rush with Junior Wells), even introducing one another (Williamson on guitarist Lonnie Johnson, an elder statesman on the tour: "A very nice musician")--and all with great sound (mono, but still flawless) and visuals (in black and white). This is one for blues fans to treasure. --Sam Graham

Special Features

  • Songs: Call Me When You Need Me (T-Bone Walker), Hootin' Blues (Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee), The Blues Is Everywhere (Memphis Slim), I Can't Quit You Baby (Otis Rush), Another Night to Cry (Lonnie Johnson), Women Be Wise (Sippie Wallace), Hobo Blues (John Lee Hooker), Five Long Years (Eddie Boyd), Shakey's Blues (Walter 'Shakey' Horton), Hoodoo Man Blues (Junior Wells), Mean Stepfather (Big Joe Williams), Going Down to the River (Mississippi Fred McDowell), Weak Brain and Narrow Mind (Willie Dixon), Nine Below Zero (Sonny Boy Williamson), Spann's Blues (Otis Spann), Got My Mojo Working (Muddy Waters), Bye Bye Blues (Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon)
  • Bonus track from Earl Hooker in 1969, "Walking the Floor Over You/Off the Hook"
  • Photo gallery
  • 24-page booklet

Product Details

  • Actors: Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Black & White, Full Screen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Hip-O Records
  • DVD Release Date: August 26, 2003
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AYL2M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,334 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By William E Donoghue on September 2, 2003
Verified Purchase
Miraculously unearthed and licensed by Reelinintheyears and released through Experience Hendrix, the 3-hours featuring 36 performances by 24 artists are the real thing filmed at the peak of many of their careers. Filmed in a Baden-Baden Germany studio with sets designed to reflect the realities of the urban blues, the sound and B&W footage is amazing. Imagine seeing Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Lightnin' Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton, Lonnie Johnson, Big Walter, otis Rush, Otis Spann, blues brother Matt "Guitar" Murphy (as exciting as he is today) and others (with 1969 bonus footage of legends Magic Sam and Earl Hooker) in your living room.
Watch closely Sonny Boy's virtuoso "Bye Bye Bird," "Mojo" with Sonny Boy and Muddy, a five-harp jam with Big Mama, John Lee, Big Walter, J. B. Lenoir and Dr. Ross, and the magic of Lightnin' Hopkins doing "Mojo Hand" and laying out enough hot guitar licks in one song to fuel a rocker's whole career.
Hip-O has released a highlights CD but these two DVDs must be seen to believe. These are the performances that American audiences have never seen since they were filmed but which inspired the Rolling Stones, John Mayall, Ten Years After, Yardbirds, Animals, Van Morrison, Ten Years After and so many of the British blues-rockers.
This was no small event. These artists played the finest concert halls of Europe, stayed in the best hotels, and ate in the best restaurants finding a deep respect they never lived to see in America. Their performances show it. Some didn't want to leave. Sonny Boy Williamson stayed on for over a year after the 1963 festival appearing in clubs and on numerous TV shows and recording with the Yardbirds, Animals, Jimmy Page, jazzman Chris Barber and even Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. Lovins HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 1, 2003
Get ready for some great blues, from the legends to the modern masters, acoustic to the electric featuring essential performances covering the last half-century of blues by the greatest of the great blues performers. Entire album reeks with every word and note from artists who aren't holding anything back. This has the feelings music is supposed to have, especially blues and this in right up there with the best of the best.
Sit back and enjoy "The American Folk Blues Festivals 1962-1966 Vol. 1", featuring Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Memphis Slim, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Big Mama Thorton, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf some of the legends that gave us our favorite genre...BLUES! Each cue is dead on, with detailed liner-notes and a little history of their background and accomplishments. This DVD is proof that once and for all Blues...was then and is very much alive and well. Blues is still some of the best music around...gotta love it!
Total Time: 80 mins ~ Hip-O Records 602498604120 ~ (8/26/2003)
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By King_Bee on October 16, 2003
Just got finished watching this last night and I was blown away. From Otis Spann to John Lee Hooker to Muddy Waters to Sonny Boy Williamson to Willie Dixon and on and on this is one dvd that anyone who loves the blues must own. COMPLETE PERFORMANCES!!!! One of the greatest music dvd's ever released. I can't wait to pick up volume 2. Picture and sound quality is outstanding. Crank up your speakers, sip on some wiskey, and let the blues flow like blood from your TV.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By twangmon on December 26, 2004
In 1962, two gutsy German concert promoters flew a host of top African-American blues musicians overseas to perform a string of shows in France, West Germany, Scandinavia, and England. The package tour was so successful it became an annual event that ran until 1970. For four years -- 1962-1966 -- these concerts were televised by Südwestfunk, one of Germany's broadcast networks. Using state-of-the-art cameras and audio equipment, Südwestfunk producers taped performances by Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, T-Bone Walker, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Lonnie Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson, Lightnin' Hopkins, and a passel of other greats. Unseen for 40 years, these well-preserved tapes were recently rediscovered, transferred to DVD, and released as a two-disc set, The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966.

Viewing these DVDs is like stumbling into a time warp: Rarely -- if ever -- did these musicians perform on American TV in the '60s. Consequently, there's precious little domestic footage of these giants coursing through the data stream. In fact, most blues fans have never actually seen Sonny Boy Williamson, Lightnin' Hopkins, or Howlin' Wolf work their mojo. But now we can, thanks to these discs.

Some highlights: The poised and urbane Lonnie Johnson, who started recording in the mid-20s, performs a swinging blues accompanied by a young Otis Spann on piano and the masterful Willie Dixon on upright bass. Backed by a piano trio, T-Bone Walker delivers a stunning version of "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong." His playing is packed with the trademark phrases and fat, archtop tones that set the standard for electric blues guitar in the '40s.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Docendo Discimus on September 30, 2004
Well, okay...but it is revelatory to finally be able to see men like T-Bone Walker, Lonnie Johnson and Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) performing live, even if it's only on TV.

This DVD includes 18 excellent black-and-white recordings, most of them taped in a small studio (although a few are "real" concert footage). Otis Rush is here, doing his first and biggest hit, "I Can't Quit You Baby", in front of a solely white (and quite formally dressed) audience. John Lee Hooker does a gritty "Hobo Blues" solely for the benefit of the camera. Pianist Eddie Boyd plays his classic "Five Long Years" (a great performance, marred only by his own awful solo). "Mississippi" Fred McDowell (from Tennessee) plays a great acoustic "Going Down To The River". And Lonnie Johnson, then in his mid-60s, does a soulful "Another Night To Cry", introduced by the towering Aleck "Rice" Miller, whose performance of "Nine Below Zero" is another highlight.

Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Working" is a bit more subdued than you might have expected, and he doesn't play his guitar, but it's great nevertheless, and Rice Miller on harmonica is an added bonus. And speaking of harpists...Junior Wells performs a slow "Hoodoo Man Blues", and Big Walter Horton is here, too, doing a tremendous swinging instrumental. And Sippie Wallace's spirited and supremely confident performance of "Women Be Wise" is a wonderful thowback to the 20s when brassy female blues belters were the order of the day.

The glossy 22-page booklet is well illustrated, well written, and very informative, and the DVD is worth its weight in gold. Keep 'em coming!
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