Furry's Gift

I first learned about Walter “Furry” Lewis (1893-1981) from Robert Gordon's book It Came From Memphis, which treated him less like a person than the living embodiment of old-time Delta blues. Since then I've become much more skeptical about the cult of authenticity that prostrates middle-class white kids before elderly blues shouters, and I didn't find much to change my mind in this black-and-white amateur video of Lewis, shot by Abraham Ravett at a Boston club in 1976. Blues aficionados present that night may have swooned at his ordinary vocal phrasing and rudimentary slide guitar, but death has since put Lewis in the company of Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf, and his onetime student Muddy Waters, where he just doesn't measure up. 60 min.

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