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Broke & Hungry/Cathead (BHDVD001 )

A documentary DVD and accompanying CD featuring Terry ‘Harmonica' Bean, Big George Brock, Jimmy ‘Duck' Holmes, Anthony ‘Big A' Sherrod, Robert Lee ‘Lil' Poochie' Watson, Louis ‘Gearshifter' Youngblood, Elmo Williams & Hezekiah Early

A few years ago, Jeff Konkel (of Broke & Hungry Records) and Roger Stolle (of Cathead Records) undertook a road trip through Mississippi to discover and document how and where blues music was still being played and enjoyed in bars, clubs, juke joints and other venues. The resultant DVD, M For Mississippi, accumulated numerous awards and a number of the blues artists they encountered subsequently went on record and release their own albums.

So what better way to follow this up than by taking in a similar journey to see how things have changed and capture more of the music as it is now being played? The over-riding impression gathered by Jeff and Roger, as evidenced in this captivating DVD, is that change has palpably happened, and mostly for the worse. Venues previously visited have now closed down, or their owners have found alternative ways to survive to putting on live music. As a consequence, blues artists now have fewer opportunities to play and find an audience.

While the message of the documentary may appear a little dispiriting, the lasting impression from repeated viewing of the performances as presented on-stage in the DVD (or on listening to the CD) is the sheer musical quality of the artists involved. Great bluesmen are still out there if (like Jeff and Roger) you know where to look, able to knock your socks off with authentic life-affirming juke blues. Just get a load of Li' Poochie and Hezekiah Early's You Know I've Tried (which takes the riff from John Lee Hooker's Dimples but plays it with an urgency and intensity rarely heard before) or Louis 'Gearshifter' Youngblood's humorous Get Rich And Marry You and you will see what I mean. And, I just love the sinewy guitar on Call Me A Lover by Big A & The All-Stars.

We can only hope that the exposure given to living Mississippi blues from the success of M For Mississippi will similarly occur on the back of this release. For sure the artists featured herein are deserving of a wider audience for their music and Jeff and Roger can only be commended again for the care and effort that has gone into bringing us this wonderful documentary DVD and CD. Highly recommended.

Review Date: June 2012

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